Course Registration

A Symposium on the Spirit World

1 PM - 3 PM
July 8, 15, 22, 29, and August 5, 2021





"Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life,” quipped George Bernard Shaw. To be sure there is truth in this observation, but it’s hardly the whole story. For millennia, human beings have been fermenting and distilling spirits and putting them to the widest possible range of uses, from topical antiseptics and poison ivy curatives to insect repellents and toothache remedies. Most enduring, however, are booze’s cultural achievements, which often come to be associated with producers and imbibers alike. This Humanities Seminars Program course will introduce students to a range of distilled spirits from around the world, not to celebrate ethanol (the alcohol at the heart of all the world’s spiritous concoctions), but rather to help reweave the spirits of the world into their cultural contexts. Among the topics we will explore are: Alcohol as Remedy and Poison Liquid Bread, the Marketing and Business of Booze, the Communion of Drinkers Litigating Liquor: A History of Moonshine Mandates, Ritual Proofs and Sacred Spirits, and Rye Whiskey I Cry: Liquor in Arts and Crafts. Importantly, this five-session course will not be organized around the topics above, but rather by the type of spirit. The topics above will be integrated throughout the course, which will help to keep the course focused on humanities topics rather than on the distillations and fermentations themselves. 

Registration will open online on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 8 AM (AZ Time)

  • Classes will be delivered online via the Zoom video conferencing platform. Course will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • All class sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students for a limited time to assist those who may not be able to attend the live class times.
  • Enrolled students may withdraw from a course and receive a tuition refund if the request is received before the second class session. See our FAQ page here for more answers to general program questions.

Watch the video to learn more about this course: 

Meet Your Professor

Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Program Innovation
College of Humanities

Ken McAllister is Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Program Innovation in the College of Humanities. A scholar of popular culture, Ken has published on topics ranging from bagpipe music and magic shows to video games and alien languages. He is also an avid collector and taster of uisge beatha and other regional spirits from around the world. He specializes in digital humanities, rhetorics of technology, and computer game studies. He has authored or co-authored six books, three edited collections, and dozens of articles and book chapters on media history, theory, and analysis. In his role as Co-Director of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive--one of the largest publicly accessible collections of computer games and related material in the world--he has also published and lectured widely on the politics and processes of digital artifact archiving and preservation.


This course will be offered ONLINE ONLY
Classes will be live streamed during the time and dates specified in the course details section above. Instructions about how to access the course online will be sent to all enrolled students before the course begins.

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