Spring 2023 Undergraduate English Courses

358:363 Tolkien’s Fantasy Fiction

01   MTH2   CAC    05408    JACKSON    HH-B6

J. R. R. Tolkien was fond of pointing out that the word “spell” anciently meant narrative. To tell a story was to cast a spell, to hold an audience spellbound. If you have a sense of what Tolkien meant, you might enjoy this course. But join first and foremost because you are a fan of Tolkien, Middle Earth, and its inhabitants, or because you love fantasy fiction. Come for the adventure of the journey—and it is a journey: an epic one. While we will discuss the literary, we will also, I hope, have a great deal of fun rambling about in the mythic world of Middle Earth. We will study the art of world building by a master craftsman, look into theories of allegory, and examine topical themes such as race, history, time, and destiny. We will explore the occult world of magic, spell speech, and other supernatural forms. And we will look into the medieval origins of Tolkien’s mythology of dragons, warriors, wizards, animated nature, and unlikely heroes. Note, while it looks like a lot of reading, the pace of the stories moves quickly. The Hobbit is short, but The Lord of the Rings, while only a single novel (in three parts), is on the longer side. And we will divide it up in snack-size portions. These works are filled with all the action, mystery, and magic that fantasy readers love. They cast a powerful spell.

Expect quizzes, essays, and mandatory attendance.