Tolkien Literature – Fri. 3:00 PM with Nicholas Newman (2024-2025)

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Introduction to Tolkien Studies 

The works of Tolkien hold a central place in the development of Fantasy as a genre. It is Tolkien’s unique combination of scholarship, particularly of Norse and Anglo Saxon literature, his understanding of stories, particularly of “fairy stories,” and how we interact with them as people, and his Christian faith.

This course is divided into three parts: the man, the myth, the legend.

In the first part of the course, “the man,” students will get to know J.R.R. Tolkien the man, reading portions of his biography as well as looking at some of his scholarship. In this part of the course too, we will discuss how Tolkien views how humans interact with stories.

The second part of the course, “the myth,” will focus on reading sections of The Silmarillion. This will introduce the multifaceted world of Arda to the student and give a background understanding of its history and cultures.

In the final part of the course, “the legend,” students will read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The focus of this section will be on understanding literary allusions in the text, discussing Tolkien’s views of good and evil, sin and redemption, heroism, etc… Most importantly, the student will appreciate the beauty of Tolkien’s works.

Texts for the Course

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
  2. Tree and Leaf (On Fairy Stories and Leaf by Niggle)
  3. The Hobbit
  4. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  5. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  7. The Silmarillion

Further Reading

  1. The Nature of MIddle Earth
  2. Tales from the Peri
  3. The Shaping of Middle Earth
  4. Tolkien: Beowulf
  5. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. Unfinished Tales
  7. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
  8. Tolkien: The Fall of Arthur


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