The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien

This course will explore J. R. R. Tolkien’s imagined world of Middle-earth through The Lord of the Rings and other writings, while also placing Tolkien’s creative work within the context of the real world in which Tolkien lived. Through historical investigation of twentieth-century Britain and Europe, literary analysis of Tolkien’s novels, and exploration of Tolkien’s linguistic scholarship, religious beliefs, and personal life, we will gain a rich understanding of Tolkien and his work. We will also consider Tolkien’s influence on fantasy literature, the 1960s counterculture, and other aspects of modern culture. Please note that this course is focused on Tolkien’s novels, not Peter Jackson’s movies (although we might spend a little time on the movies toward the end of the semester).