Lifelong Learners Institute

The Lifelong Learners Institute offers open courses for the community independent of Canisius College degree programs. Our instructors come from a wide range of academic disciplines to give our courses a broad cross-section of knowledge, experience, and experience. No papers or tests are given! Just much good discussion!

Classes meet weekly for six weeks and are limited to 16 students. Cost is $60. Questions? Email us at

Fall 2022

From Odysseus to Harry Potter:

The Evolution of the Hero

Tuesdays, October 18 to November 22
1:00 – 2:30  PM
Canisius College, Lyons Hall 122

A scholar once said, “The hero has not disappeared but is reborn phoenix-like.” This six-week seminar will trace how patterns established in classical literature, particularly in The Odyssey, have been revived and modified by writers. The course will look at ancient and modern authors, such as Homer, Willa Cather, and J. K. Rowling, and films, such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Shane, to examine how they envision forms of heroism.

Wk 1: Introduction to heroic patterns

Wk  2: Odysseus in Homer & Tennyson

Wk 3: Literature & film from World War I

Wk 4: The hero in America

Wk 5: The hero in America, cont.

Wk 6: The Odyssey & Harry Potter

Robert J. Butler, Ph. D. is a Canisius College professor emeritus of English and directed the Honors Program for 21 years. He is the author or co-author of several books that focus on American and African-American literature. Butler is the inaugural recipient of the 2008 Honors Professor of the Year Award. This award recognizes a professor who has made exceptional contributions to the Canisius All-College Honors Program in teaching, scholarship and/or service. In May 2022, Dr. Butler also earned an honorary doctorate from Canisius.

Spring 2022

Witches & Wives: Women in the Middle Ages

Kara Larson Maloney (English)

Fall 2021

A Brief History of Byzantium

Jeff Brubaker (Classics)

Spring 2021

The Plague in Medieval Literature

Johanna Fisher (English)

The Crusades

Jeff Brubaker (Classics)

Fall 2020

Arthur: The Once & Future King

Kara Maloney (English)

Tempters & Temptresses: The Medieval Romance

Johanna Fisher (English)

Spring 2020

Jesus: From Messiah to God

Rebecca Krawiec & Matthew Mitchell (Religious Studies/Theology)

Fall 2019

The Vikings

Bridgette Slavin (History)

China & The Silk Roads

David Devereux (History)

Spring 2019

Medieval Art & Architecture

Eileen Sullivan (Art History)

From Odysseus to Harry Potter: The Evolution of the Hero

Robert Butler (English)

Fall 2018

Crown, Sword, & Charter: Making the Monarchy

Julie Gibert (History)

The Seven Wonders: Ancient & Modern

Erin Warford (Classics)

Spring 2018

The Great Persian War: Ancient Greek Influence on Modern Attitudes of War

Thomas Banchich (Classics & History)