Examine the seminal and primary fictional texts of J.R. R. Tolkien.

J.R. R. Tolkien is widely regarded as a founding figure of modern fantasy literature. In this course, we examine his seminal and primary fictional texts, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, alongside Tolkien’s own theories of fantasy and world-building, encapsulated in a series of essays called Tree and Leaf. Tolkien’s enduring popularity and the recent adaptation of his texts to film will also be discussed.

There will also be some reference to Tolkien’s use of Celtic, Germanic and Christian myths and an introduction to some of the most formative and influential mythologies of European culture.

The overall aim of this course is to give students an opportunity to analyse some of Tolkien’s most notable works of fantasy within an academic framework and to consider his own ideas regarding fantasy world building and writing. We will examine his texts in relation to various theories of how fantasy operates – or ‘ought’ to operate – as a genre, and think about the ways in which Tolkien adheres to and departs from such theories. Competing definitions of fantasy will be considered and then duly applied to Tolkien’s texts.

You will join a class which is studying English (ENGLISH 306) as part of an undergraduate degree, but you will not attend tutorials, complete assignments or sit an exam – a no- stress learning opportunity. You will have online access to the course lecture notes.

Limited to 10 CCE participants.

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