Here Be Dragons

Junior Expedition

“I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset…” Ursula LeGuin

Next offering: Stay Tuned!
(This class is for age 12-18; the class for ages 8-12 is here, and the class for adults is here.)
Tuition $500/student. 10% family discount if 2 or more members of a family register for either “Here Be Dragons” course in any combination

Out of the mists that shroud the earliest days of creation and from the pages of many of our most beloved books, one creature stares with piercing eyes as the chiefest and greatest of calamities: the dragon. Human fascination with dragons is near universal, and so to encounter them in the pages of literature is a terror and a delight.

But what is one, after all to do with a dragon? Befriend it or attack it? Hide it or reveal it? Can it be trusted? Is it the source of ancient and profound wisdom, or the greatest deceiver of them all? What, fundamentally, do dragons teach us about our world and ourselves?

This 9 week course for students ages 12-18 is as much about philosophy as it is about literature. We will read delightful books, some of which have been dear to generations, some of which are delighting their first generation. As we quest along with Bilbo, the Pevensies, and more, we will also have occasion to ask questions about courage, true friendship, duty, honor, and sacrifice.

This class will be offered live via Zoom. Students will need to prepare readings ahead of time, and come ready to discuss what they have read. A limited amount of financial aid is available (apply using the registration form).

Here is the schedule:

Week One: Know Your Dragons: Identification and Classification
Week Two: Earning a Dragon’s Friendship: Respect and The Power or Listening
Reading: Rebecca Rupp, The Dragon of Lonely Island, part I
Week Three: Taking on the Dragon’s Mantle: Kindness and Goodness
Reading: Rebecca Rupp, The Dragon of Lonely Island, part II
Week Four: Thrust upon a Quest: Longing and Destiny
Reading: Garth Nix and Sean Williams, Have Sword, Will Travel, part I
Week Five: Dragon Judgment: The Difficulty and Reward of Knighthood
Reading: Garth Nix and Sean Williams, Have Sword, Will Travel, part II
Week Six: “You Must Let Me Undress You:” The Trials of Becoming Fully Human
Reading: C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, part I
Week Seven: To Sail Beyond the Sunrise: Courage and Obedience
Reading: C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, part II
Week Eight: “A Lot More in Him than You Guess:” Rising to the Challenge
Reading: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, part I
Week Nine: Whose Treasure Anyway? Greed, Loyalty, and Honor
Reading: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, part II

What Former Students Say:

Dr. Johnson’s knowledge of theology, philosophy, and literature, combined with his engaging style of communication, make him an excellent intellectual guide. If you see fantasy as somewhat pointless or as something reserved for children, Dr. Johnson will correct your thinking. His class on dragons will both enrich and hone your imaginative and analytical thinking. Personally, this class deepened my appreciation for fantasy as a vehicle of truth and better equipped me with the perspective and hope that enable a person to face and bear hardship well.

Reynolds, former student

Dr. Johnson’s Dragons class is full of monsters, heroes, fame, destruction, triumph, and glory. It was incredibly fun and thought provoking. I highly recommend it to everyone!

Andrew, former student

Dr. Johnson is a fun, engaging, and personable teacher! This is a class designed to look at great writing and to explore the good, true, and beautiful.

Grace, former student
Photo courtesy Eric Guel

Junius Johnson, PhD (Yale) is a theologian, philosopher, and literary scholar who has been an educator for over 20 years. His classes have a reputation for combining the hilarious with the profound, for being equal parts fun and rigor.

He is also a lifetime lover of dragons and reader of fantastical literature. He has an impressive number of hours in the field hunting, observing, battling, and conversing with dragons. Perhaps it is this that has earned him the moniker Doctor Draconicus, or “Dragon Doctor.” But the truth may be even more shocking, for he is widely rumored to be, himself, a dragon. And while he refuses to confirm this, he won’t deny it either, which you have to admit is suspicious.

To be notified of upcoming classes, including registration windows for future instances of “Here Be Dragons” please join the mailing list.

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