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Jul 21 2017
by Gwen Yockey

10 Colleges Where You Can Take a Class on J.R.R. Tolkien

By Gwen Yockey - Jul 21 2017
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Unoriginal corny overused joke aside, if you're like me and are either a closeted geek or unashamed at showing your fandom pride, you've probably had the thought of, "Why can't my school offer classes on my favorite (insert fandom, book, show, movie, etc. here)?" Well I'm here to tell you that you are only one finger scroll away from viewing 10 schools that I've found offering Tolkien themed courses for your pleasure.

1. Swarthmore College

Located: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 

Course Name: ENGL 046 Tolkien and Pullman and Their Literary Roots 

Description: This class is a study of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Pullman's His Dark Materials in the context of their early English courses. For Tolkien, this will include Beowulf, Old English riddles and elegies and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It is noted that some film versions will be included and is to be worth 1 credit.

2. Cardiff Metropolitan University

Located: Cardiff, Wales

Course Name: Monsters, Cyborgs, and Imaginary Worlds

Description: Not only does this course involve Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but also many other great authors' works. It focuses on looking at similarities between the three popular genres: Gothic, science fiction and fantasy. Not only will it explore monstrous beings (like vampires and aliens) and hybrid creatures (like centaurs and cyborgs), but it also goes over alternative worlds (from pseudo-medieval settings to parallel universes). You will gain an understanding of the ways in which myth, folklore and the supernatural intersect with science and technology to create some of the most memorable literary and cinematic texts of the last two centuries. It pulls in a whopping 20 credits!

3. Signum University

Located: Nashua, New Hampshire

Course Name: Tolkien Studies

Description: Signum University is simply amazing when you are looking for not just one class. Tolkien courses are available at a number of colleges and universities, but they are mostly limited to an elective class or two. At Signum University, they've created an entire concentration around Tolkien’s works and life. Currently, they offer eight courses related to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. Students seeking a M.A. or certificate with a concentration in Tolkien studies must take at least five of these courses. Keep in mind that some of these courses may rotate on a two to three year cycle. The most recent listed class is Tolkien's Wars and Middle-earth, and starts August 28, 2017.

4. Aquinas College

Located: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Course Name: Tolkien, Narnia, and the Catholic Imagination

Description: The basis of the class is that it is an analysis of J.R.R. Tolkien’s and C.S. Lewis’s imaginative worlds, Middle-earth and Narnia from the perspective of a Catholic worldview, Tolkien’s concept of mythopoeia and Lewis’s theological writings. This course is also considered a theology elective.

5. Wheaton College

Located: Norton, Massachusetts

Course Name: English 259 J. R. R. Tolkien

Description: For this one, you will read many of Tolkien's works including The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, as well as his medieval scholarship. It will also have its students examine Tolkien's sources, including Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Night, Old Norse poetry and saga and the Finnish Kalevala. The reading load for this course is greater than 2,000 pages (plus all three Peter Jackson films), which are definitely no hardship to watch for the ten-thousandth time.

6. Marquette University

Located: Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

Course Name: 4610 Individual Authors — J.R.R. Tolkien

Description: Whether you have no prior knowledge of Tolkien's work or you've reread them a hundred times over, this course was designed for a mix of first-time readers, frequent re-readers and people who are returning to the books for the first time as adults after many years away in mind. It will primarily trace the history, development and reception of Tolkien’s incredible magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings, but also take up Tolkien’s often contested place in the literary canon of the twentieth century, the uses and abuses of Tolkien in Jackson’s blockbuster films, the special appeal of Tolkien in politically troubled times and the ongoing critical interests and investments of Tolkien fandom today. 

7. Loyola University Maryland

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Course Name: The Moral and Political Ideas of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Description: The title of this class pretty much explains what this one is about. It explores the themes of friendship, war, mercy, treachery, possession, land and totalitarianism that can be found in the Lord of the Rings. A review of the same sort will be gone over concerning the film trilogy and various philosophical works Tolkien likely relied on when writing this masterpiece.

8. Dalhousie University

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Course Name: Tolkien And Medievalism

Description: This is yet another abroad option, Dalhousie University's Tolkien and Medievalism class will be analyzing Tolkien's extensive knowledge of medieval literature and Norse mythology, and incorporating modern concepts such as the anti-hero, pacifism, total war, weapons of mass destruction, industrialization and ecological devastation into their studies.

9. Leiden University

Location: Leiden, Netherlands

Course Name: The Medieval of Middle-Earth: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Anglo-Saxon World

Description: Not only is this school a great option for study abroad, but it also has a rich history. This course studies Tolkien's academic publications in the field of Old English, particularly Beowulf,  both in its own right and in the relation to his fictional world Middle-Earth.

10. Heritage University

Location: Toppenish, Washington

Course Name: ENG 545 J.R.R. Tolkien

Description: This last one evolves a detailed study of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, with particular emphasis on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Simarillion and Tolkien’s critical writings. Examination of genre considerations, including the origins of the world-building model of contemporary fantasy fiction and comparison of written and cinematic versions. Biographical, historical, formalist, feminist, ecocriticial and other approaches will also be explored by students enrolled for two credits, and students enrolled for three credits will practice teaching Tolkien at the secondary level.

Now whether or not you're actually planning to go to one of these schools or not is fine either way. If you're like me, sometimes you just let the internet lead you wherever it wants to take you, causing you to somehow end up on a top 10 video or article. The point is that now you are aware that there are both local and abroad colleges that offer Tolkien themed courses. 

Some of these schools almost make me want to rethink my own choice of college, just for a chance to attend one of their classes. But alas, I am quite attached to being a BG Falcon. Maybe I will try an abroad option in a year or two. How about you?

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Gwen Yockey - Bowling Green State University

Gwen attends Bowling Green State University where she is pursuing a major in Art Education and a minor in Sexuality Studies. She is a self taught artist that enjoys painting and writing in her free time. She also has a minor addiction to Spicy Dill Pickle Chips but her cat Loki doesn't care as long as his food dish is kept full and his three fourths of the bed is not intruded upon by his human.

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