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Tricksters - love them or hate them?

Loki - Tom and Jerry - Br'er Rabbit - Wily Coyote - Odysseus - Anansi the Spider - Reynard the Fox ... Why are they so fascinating?

Do we enjoy them as characters? Do we love them but hate what they do? Or is it the other way round?
Why do we admire their ability to trick people and get away with it? Why do we laugh when they get off scot free?

What truly valuable lessons can we learn from them?

The ability to find humourous or intelligent ways of getting out of difficult situations, the ability to solve riddles, the ability to avoid traps set by tricksters - these are all valuable skills to learn. They'll help you think smarter, think quicker, think funnier.

Are you up that?

If you are, they you've found a great course. 

As well as learning about tricksters and their tricks, we'll learn about dupes and how dupes get duped (no one wants to be an easy target, now, do they?)

We'll learn how riddles work.

And we'll learn why rules are important, but also how (and why) tricksters break rules. Break rule, or bend them? That's something we'll discuss together. Are rules made to be broken? What do you think?

Do storytellers, writers, journalists, and scientists trick us? If so, how? What about conspiracy theories? Are people out to trick us? How can we tell?

This 'Trickster Tales' course draws on a rich cultural heritage of oral storytelling, which brings the characters alive, and makes them relevant to us you today without losing any of their original power.

On this course you'll be:

  • Researching classic Trickster characters, their stories, and the contexts in which these stories originally emerged and were told.
  • Researching the context of a given Trickster Tale.
  • Exploring riddles - solving them, composing them, telling them.
  • Exploring reasons why we cheer tricksters on ... why we sometimes rejoice when laws are broken.
  • Exploring the need to play tricks.
  • Working out why heavyweight thinkers and writers were fascinated by Tricksters.
  • Writing a modern Trickster Tale.
  • Learning how orators use tricks to win their audiences over - and why.
  • Learning how writers use tricks to win their readers over - and why.
  • Learning about propaganda and conspiracy theories - the tricks they use, how they use them, and why.
  • Learning to evaluate and separate Trickster behaviours that work from Trickster behaviours that don't. Learn to love the good and hate the bad.
  • Learning to know where and when to take a stand, why it's worth doing, and how to do so safely.

About Leon

Leon is a teacher steeped in the wonder and wisdom of traditional storytelling and the integrated and integrative approach to the classical liberal arts. He is a keen supporter of living traditions, including living traditions of oral storytelling. He is author of several books including Aesop The Storyteller (Aladdin's Cave Press, 2008), a collection of 12 versified Aesopic fables, and History Riddles (Liberalis Books, 2013).


Students will need a standard A4 lined notebook or paper, standard stationery supplies, or access to digital facilities and Word Processing programme and EITHER a digital shared workplace OR a hard copy A4 ring-file binder with dividers. In both cases, they will need facilities to upload clear scans or pictures of homework tasks. All courses will be taught on line in a specialised learning environment - a fast broadband connection is advisable.

Accessibility and Flexibility

Content will be adapted to individual levels and interests as much as possible. Special needs students can be provided for (please contact the tutor to discuss before enrolling) and assessments can be handed in via video rather than in written format, with videos uploaded to YouTube and shared via private link.

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