Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tolkien Classes

Recently I got an email from the Chair of a high-school English department who wanted to know about classes in Tolkien or fantasy literature that might be taught at other high schools.  I realized I have no idea.  

Furthermore, I have no idea how many college courses are now devoted to Tolkien.  Back in 2003, when I was making the case to WVU Press that they should publish Tolkien Studies, I did a rough survey, searching for "Tolkien" and "syllabus" on the same page and then weeding out by hand.  This is no longer possible: there are 37,000 results, and many duplications.  

So, instead of brute-force googling (though I'm sure those with better google-fu than I could narrow it down), let's try the power of distributed intelligence and social networking.  

If you know of classes devoted to Tolkien or having a substantial Tolkien component, at the high-school or college level, post about them in the comments here or email me.  I will assemble all the data and make a new post.  You don't need to write much, just something like: 

Wheaton College, Norton Mass:  English 259: J.R.R. Tolkien, English 401: Sr. Seminar: Tolkien and Le Guin.  

Of course if there's a link to a syllabus, that's even better, but not necessary.  And if you don't have specific data, but can remember something like "I had a course on JRRT at University of X in 2002," that's fine, too. 

My gut feeling is that the number of courses has perhaps even doubled since 2003.  Just recently I was partnered with someone from another New England elite liberal arts college, and he just mentioned, in passing, that one of their new faculty members "does this course on Tolkien, of all things, and it's really very good." (I just smiled).  Anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of medievalists are now teaching a Tolkien course as well (and, yes, I'll be they are "really very good").  So I think these courses are now all over the place and are more "respectable" than they were even six years ago.  I'd like to see if this hunch is correct. 

(I'll save a description of my war with the raccoons for the next post)


Mike said...

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville OH. Dr. Holmes has a class on the works of Tolkein, ENG 422 BL: Tolkien, every other year (maybe every year, I'm not sure).

He also teaches an Old English class that he calls Tolkien's old English (mostly to increase attendance, methinks, but he does scatter bits of trivia about names and such from time to time).

Ian and Anke Collier said...

Hi if you want I can ask the TS Education Officer if she has a list and if she doesn't she can at least pass your search onto the education volunteers who may be able to collate info. Otherwise have you considered asking via the many and various Tolkien groups on Facebook?
Tolkien Society:

Mythopoeic Soc:


Ian Collier
TS Education Secretary

Ian and Anke Collier said...

Oh and further to my previous comment Leslie Donovan (UNM) emailed around September last year, asking all and sundry who taught Tolkien to fill in a web form detailing teaching methods and aproaches with regard to a potential new publication "MLA Approaches to Teaching World Literature Series, titled Approaches to Teaching Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Other Works". I don't know how many responses they had but given your post and standing with Tolkien Studies etc you may be able to get some information out of them pre-publication.

Ian Collier

Anonymous said...

Belmont University, Nashville TN: offered since 2003: LIS 3600: J.R.R. Tolkien in History, Political Thought, and Literature: Dr. Amy H. Sturgis

Anonymous said...

I've only taken your English 259 and it was really, very good :)

jeniffercox said...

I remember being part of that first fantasy seminar 6 years ago. It's still one of my favorite memories from Wheaton. Thank you for the experience, and best of luck with your research it (and winning the war with the raccoons). I'll see if I can find out if there are any courses at the University of SC.

Unknown said...

Crossroads College, Rochester, MN: HUM 2300 "Myth as Truth: Fiction of JRR Tolkein." Being taught Spring 09, at least.

theswain said...

I taught ENGL 101: Introduction to Literature, but the class was advertised as J. R. R. Tolkien and The LoTR: Influences and Influence in 2005, 2007 and 2008 at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Gerrit said...

Undergraduate capstone course (ENG 495) on Tolkien, Fantasy and Film at Brigham Young University. Taught every year or two by Steve Walker and Jay Fox. No syllabus but here are some of the readings for the course.

Thanks for the post. Looking forward to your compiled list of course offerings.

Cole Matson said...

I took an undergraduate Medieval & Renaissance Studies elective called Tolkien & Lewis: The Antiquarian Answer to Modernism in Fall 2004, I think, at New York University. It was taught by adjunct Adam Jason Coccaro.

jon porter said...

ID103 (now CC101, CC102) "The World of J. R. R. Tolkien," Butler University, Indianapolis. Spring 2006, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, which I teach as part of the Core Curriculum. It started as a Humanities Colloquium (part 2 of the English Comp sequence), it has now morphed into a First Year Seminar in our new core.

J. M. B. Porter

Helene said...

University of Maryland, College Park, Md
Undergraduate honors seminar: HONR208E J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
Graduate course: ENGL709A Seminar in Myth: Tolkien on War

Unknown said...

English 4301 (Studies in Selected Authors) at Texas Tech University. Every other year or so, it's about Tolkien and it is taught by Brian McFadden. http://epm049.engl.ttu.edu/~bmcfadde/syll4301s09.html

mb said...

I took a class in spring 2004 called "Tolkien and His Medieval Sources" at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. No idea if it's still being taught, unfortunately.

Bram said...

Various Tolkien classes are taught at University of New Mexico, all are split level (both upper and lower division as well as graduate level) and are taught by Professor Leslie Donovan.