Courses

Introduction to Old Norse

The first half of this course provides a focus on Old Icelandic grammar, and the second half allows students to begin reading from a selection of Old Icelandic prose and poetic texts.

Shakespeare and the Middle Ages

The course examines Shakespeare’s Comedies in the context of their medieval literary sources, his Histories in light of Tudor views of the recent medieval past, and his Tragedies in the context of medieval beliefs and cosmologies.

Tolkien’s World of Middle-earth

In this course, students will read Tolkien’s critical essays, translations, and imaginative stories to explore how his world and his myth developed over time.

Lewis & Tolkien

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien are two of the most widely read fantasy and science fiction authors in the modern era; however, their works are rarely studied together. Students will examine the friendship and work of Lewis and Tolkien in this course and their influence upon each other.

Folkloric Transformations

Folklore is a major source of modern imaginative literature and popular culture. Think of supernatural creatures such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and fairies, all populating the oral stories of generations of peoples. Think about the tales you heard as a child, “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” “Snow-White” (among many others), the origins of which are […]

Sherlock, Science and Ratiocination

“Tales of ratiocination,” as Edgar Allan Poe called them, are the intellectual sibling of science fiction, born of the same parents: the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Poe created the first scientific detective, C. Auguste Dupin, who in turn paved the way for one of the most enduring and beloved literary characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes. This […]

Tolkien & Tradition

How does “The Story of Kullervo” relate to Kalevala? How does Sigurd and Gudrún relate to The Volsung Saga? How does The Fall of Arthur relate to the medieval Arthur legends? Tolkien once said his immediate response to reading any medieval story was to want to write one like it.  He did.  Three times. “The Story of Kullervo” came from […]

The Story of the Hobbit

What were the literary precursors to The Hobbit? What inspired Tolkien to write The Hobbit? This course will examine the life of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  We will examine several important precursors of the book, works that helped establish the genre in which Tolkien was writing, or which influenced Tolkien’s own thinking.  We will then read not the […]

Mythologies of Love and Sex

This course explores some of the great mythologies of love that provide a background to today’s culture, sketched out along the twin paths of C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves and a chronological development of the ideas of love.

The Inklings and Science Fiction

Of the various men in the writer’s group the Inklings who met in Oxford primarily during the 1930s and 1940s, two achieved world renown with their writings: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Each had a strong interest in the developing field of science fiction. This course covers the Inklings’ creative and personal encounters with science fiction.

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