harff        Arnold von Harff:                         harff

   Medieval Pilgrim, Plagiarist,

      Linguist, Liar, Artist, etc.

   In 1496 Arnold von Harff undertook a strenuous, 2-year journey to the three main pilgrimage sites of the Middle Ages--Rome, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compostela. But he also falsified his account with material from more than a half dozen other travelers, so that separating fact from fiction becomes an intriguing detective story.

The lecture is illustrated with several dozen pictures stemming from the pilgrim's original color drawings.


viking          The Age of the Vikings                                 helmet               

Between 790 AD and 1050 AD Vikings sailed from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, terrorizing the inhabitants of Russia, central and southern Europe (esp. the British Isles), Greenland, and even North America. Besides the standard "pillaging, looting, and burning," the Vikings often settled large tracts of land, where they engaged in farming and trade--often so successfully that they gave their name to Normandy in France and possibly even to Russia. Examination of the causes for the rise and demise of the Viking Age.

Richly illustrated with maps and pictures of artifacts from the Viking Age.



 powerIceland: Land of Fire mapand Ice                                                                 

 With a population of only 330,000, you will be surprised at the mark in the world that this small country just below the Arctic Circle has made.





beowulf                     Beowulf:                                       

The Film, the Old English Epic, and its Fairy Tale Roots

 A mildly scholarly look at the famous Old English epic, a mildly sarcastic comparison to the 2007 Hollywood film version, and a mildly serious description of the age-old fairy tale (honest!) that gave rise to much of the Old English epic.




           Scandinavian cosmosMythology                          goats                                                              

Except for a small number of people in Iceland, no one believes in the gods of Viking-age Scandinavia, but the myths surrounding them are as entertaining as those that have come down to us from Greek and Roman mythology. This lecture will describe how the people of medieval Scandinavia viewed the universe, how they thought world was created, and how it was destined to end. There will be stories about Odin, Thor, Freyja, Loki and other deities that illustrate their functions in the pantheon of Norse gods.

Where possible, fanciful pictures will be used to illustrate an otherwise factual, informative presentation.



  southern            How to Speak Southern                  dialects                           

 A mildly scholarly introduction to what makes Southern English different from other American dialects. Included will be a brief overview of the main dialect areas of the United States and a short historical explanation of how the primary dialect differences arose.



languagesGlobalization and Language

It is expected that globalization, both economic and cultural, will continue to increase, and that one very important component of culture, language, will be impacted as well.

Initially, language influence due to 18th- and 19th-century globalization, usually referred to as colonization, will be compared to the current wave of language spread and language change.  Which of today's languages will increase in their number of speakers and in importance, and which will lose?  Will some languages die out?  Which languages might be best to learn as a second or third language, and what is the foreign-language teaching situation like in different countries?  What are the changes that will probably take place in the international form of English?  These and other questions will be addressed in this illustrated lecture.