Skip to comments.Barnes & Noble Free Course The Lord of the Rings
Posted on 09/07/2002 12:54:11 PM PDT by Overtaxed
Title: The Lord of the Rings Course Type: Online Instructor-led Course Estimated Completion Time: 24 hour(s) Session Length: 4 week(s)
Take this course for FREE
Upcoming Sessions September 11, 2002 - OPEN
Prerequisites Have read or have a desire to read The Hobbit and the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings
Description This course provides an overview of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. We'll look first at Tolkien's biography, his writing life, the origins of the stories, and their publication history. We'll continue with lessons on each book, concentrating on Tolkien's construction of a mythological world and its peoples and languages, his characters and their development, and his thematic concerns. Finally, we'll look at Tolkien's lasting influence on 20th-century fantasy literature, as well as on cultural movements such as neo-paganism and environmentalism.
Objectives Read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy and follow the adventures of Bilbo, Frodo, and their friends in a war against evil See how Tolkien's background as a professor of languages at Oxford influenced his construction of a complete mythology of Middle Earth Explore Tolkien's influence, not only on 20th-century fantasy literature, but also on the development of neo-pagan religions and environmental activism.
Course Materials The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Boxed Set
Course Creator(s) Leslie Ellen Jones Leslie Ellen Jones earned a Ph.D. in Folklore and Mythology Studies at UCLA, and has taught at UCLA and Harvard. She is the author of Druid Shaman Priest: Metaphors of Celtic Paganism, and currently works in academic publishing.
sorry folk for letting it go lately... I have excuses, lots of them....
I'd like to hear about his background and Im' curious as to what she has to say about the neo-pagan/environmental activism. I have access to The Letters as an extra reference if needed
I distrust anyone from UCLA, but if they love Tolkien, then I can hope for the best, and with a little luck, I am dead wrong.
Ditto! but this is from your PC. Though I don't really expect them to "get" the Christian influence; much less the Spirit-filled Christian experience.
Dana Paxson graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Design, majoring in painting and sculpture. His art work has appeared in shows and fairs in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Rochester, New York. Dana is also an established professional writer of science fiction and fantasy, with four published stories in the nationally-distributed magazine Science Fiction Age. He has been writing long and short fiction since 1992. His nonliterary professions are systems engineering, high-tech intellectual property analysis, and modern art. He practices as an artist when time permits, and teaches modern-art appreciation.
And here's the final lesson outline, for those wondering about the environmentalist issues:
Tolkien's Legacy: Films, Paganism, and Environmentalism
The Hero with a Thousand Scripts
Nature Religions and Environmental Activism
However, the other lessons look promising. Here's the link to read the Lesson Outlines.
Don't know, I've never done one of these B&N classes before. I just came across this and it looked interesting. I'd like to learn more about Tolkien and his background etc. I wouldn't mind "hearing" about his influence on other writers ....but I'm not hanging around for any enviromentalist/neo-pagan crap.
Except for certian caractures of over zelous evironmentalist.
I'm not going to listen to a bunch of people who go around telling me that animals and trees and fish take priority over me.
God made man to dominate the lesser creatures of the earth.
God created the earth and the seas, the trees and plants and animals for the benefit of man.
There isn't any! I think that "environmental paganism stuff was projected onto Tolkien by the hippie crowd.
Those hippie types are forever ruining a good thing with thier agendas.
That's the way I figure it. I can see how the whole Isengard thing can be hijacked by the Greens but I have no clue how they get the paganism part to fit.
Reading Materials Your Instructor has carefully selected materials for the course to enhance your learning experience.
Materials You Will Need:
Your instructor has chosen these materials for in-depth use in this course and will refer to them in lessons and reading assignments. These materials are also used for class lessons, assignments and message board discussions. You should obtain these materials before your course session begins.
Title: The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Boxed Set
Product Type: Paperback
Synopsis: More than the most widely read and influential fantasy story of all time, The Lord of the Rings is arguably the most memorable and endearing tale ever written. Originally published in 1954 and drawing upon primal traditions of myth and legend, it set the framework upon which all epic/quest fantasy since has been built.
MATERIALS FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION:
Your instructor also recommends these materials for further exploration of course topics.
Title: J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
Product Type: Paperback
Synopsis: This thoughtful book examines The Lord of the Rings as a linguistic and cultural map, as a twisted web of story, and as a response to the meaning of myth. Tom Shippey presents a unique argument to explain the nature of evil and gives readers a compelling insight into the complicated interweaving of the many strands of the story.
Title: The History of the Lord of the Rings
Product Type: Paperback
Synopsis: Here is the story behind the creation of one of the most popular books of the 20th century, as told by J.R.R. Tolkien's son, whose unprecedented access to his father's estate allowed him to compile this four-volume set of rough drafts, unpublished passages, and other literary odds and ends that add greatly to a thorough understanding of the saga.
Title: J.R.R. Tolkien
Product Type: Paperback
Synopsis: To write this definitive biography, Humphrey Carpenter was given unrestricted access to all Tolkien's papers, and interviewed his friends and family. From these sources he follows the long and painful process of creation that produced The Lord Of The Rings and The Silmarillion and offers a wealth of information about the life and work of the twentieth century's most cherished author.
Title: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Product Type: Paperback
Synopsis: Over the years Tolkien wrote a mass of letters -- to his publishers, his family, to friends, and to fans of his books -- which record the history and composition of his works and his reaction to subsequent events. Now newly expanded with a detailed index, this collection provides an invaluable record that sheds new light on Tolkien's creative genius.
I would love to go to Ireland some day as I have some ancestry from there and understand it is quite a beautiful country.
Tolkien did go to Ireland several times and enjoyed the country and the people very much.
However I believe that LOTR is more consciously patterned on the Nordic sagas and mythologies than the Celtic. Some Celtic influence may have been unavoidable in the story since the Celts occupied England before the advent of the Anglo Saxons. It is for the Anglo Saxons, though, that Tolkien was creating a mythology, since he felt it had been repressed by the Normans after they defeated the Anglo Saxons in 1066. I got this from reading Tolkien's letters + a book on him by Shippey, the guy who has Tolkien's post at Oxford now, and who is a great admirer of him.
I haven't made it to the end of those messages yet. I did see your comment about the print, though. I changed my screen resolution on the laptop to 800 x 600.
I have to get busy on The Hobbit. It's been a while since I've read it.
So far, I don't like the comments as well as the ones we've had going in the Green Dragon. I'm not seeing much linkage with Christianity, they seem mostly to attribute it to having been orphaned and to his having fought in WWII.
But, it's new, need more time there, and maybe I just need to learn to navigate better.
What's your opinion OT? BTW, the lower resolution did it, thanks, but I don't like it for my other stuff.
That's the way it sounds to me too. But then, we've only done a little biographical background stuff. We haven't actually gotten into the stories yet. Or at least I haven't. I've only done the first lesson and haven't even finshed all the comments.
The comments are harder to navigate because you can't trace backwards like you can on FR.
I change my resolution when I go to the lessons and then change it back when I leave. You think they'd make it so you could customize the fonts!
Hey, Gretchen, what's your name on the B&N site? I am "Lin". But, I haven't posted too much. I am a bit nutty reading all the Comments that attribute LotR to JRRT's having been in the war. I believe that I'd read he had begun constructing Middleearth long before he served in the war-- and languages, they jumped on his distaste for French; and thought perhaps he thought of that as a language of Black Speach, but never saw that Elven might just be his acknowledgement of a 'heavenly' language; and that like any spirit-filled Christian would have the ability to speak in 'other' tongues - -
Eh! too early
Off Topic Did any of you see Dateline last night? Do you know that our Special Forces in Afghanistan had grown beards and whatnot so they could 'blend' in- some of the men there working for 'relief' groups got upset (they too have facial hair) because Afghans couldn't distinguish between them (relief workers) and the special forces. So, the military has ordered the Special Forces to shave their facial hair. Now I ask you, is that crazy?! The SFs NEED to blend in- what in the world has happeded to commonsense? not to mention, how difficult is it for guys out in the desert to shave! I just can't believe that the military brass would cave to relief workers like that. They want to wear facial hair so they don't get shot, but they want the military to shave so they won't be mistaken for military - of course this leaves our guys sticking out like sore thumbs.
Sorry, I just can't get over how ridiculous things have gotten.
It seems to me that by creating a world in which religion is unnecessary because the spirituality of the people is a natural part of life (as seen in the Elves), Tolkien was making a very powerful point. All of the races have a definitive way of living and of keeping their culture alive. You can see in the relationship of Frodo and Sam, for example, that Hobbits have friendships built on spiritual foundations and not social ones, as socially Sam is not compatible with Frodo.
I would agree with that Amy. Don't think he wrote for the purposes of evangalizing anyone. At the same time, I do believe that the Christian themes found in his works are there as natural expressions of his world view.
The "Ainulindale" and "Valaquenta" are short stories that can be found at the beginning of the Silmarillion. The first is Arda's (the world that includes Middle Earth) creation myth and the second is basically a roster of its gods and goddesses, collectively called the Valar. But you're right in that Tolkien never develops any particular moral or ritual framework to which the people's of Middle Earth adhere. As an atheist, I personally don't find it to be problematic.
In fact, I consider the lack of overt religiosity to be one of LotR's strengths.
One can of course argue that there are several Christian themes underlying the books, and that is true to some extent, but I also think some people try a bit too hard to find connections.
Hi Norman, I agree with you that the "lack of overt religiosity [is]one of LotR's strengths." I can't read CS Lewis anymore, though I read Narnia to my kids. But Lewis uses symbolism with a sledgehammer. Tolkien is much more open to spirituality without defining exactly what the "correct" form of it is (as I think Lewis does).
Religion takes many forms.
My background is in the metaphysical, an universal force surrounding all things. This force has many names, including the word "love". The love between Frodo and Sam, is a very spiritual kind of love, representing "The Golden Rule". "Love one another as I had loved you."
It is interesting that evil "appears" to have overcome good, until it looks like all is lost. Only then, does the characters of the "fellowship" look within themselves, and find the courage that was there all the time to overturn the evil. The "good" within each of us prevails.
This is another concept of spiritual law. The ability of each of us to look within to find our "good". As Jesus stated, "You shall do these things and greater if you have the faith of a mustard seed." I believe Jesus was telling us to look within to find our courage, as was Tolkien.
I think you are very wrong- here's excerpts from his own letters, and by his authorized biographer.
"The Lord of the Rings," he wrote in a letter to a friend, "is of course a fundamentally religious and Christian work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." Humphrey Carpenter, author of Tolkien's authorized biography, takes this claim seriously. Tolkien's writings, he says, are "the work of a profoundly religious man." According to Carpenter, God is essential to everything that happens in The Lord of the Rings. Without Him, Middle-earth couldn't exist. But be forewarned: Evidences of God's presence are not as obvious in Tolkien's work as in Lewis' more allegorical style of writing. They are there, however - firmly embedded in the tales he insisted on calling "inventions about Truth." In fact, if you know what to look for, you may find them popping up everywhere.
As a spirit-filled Christian, I see Tolkien's spirituality everywhere Not the ritualized 'go-to-church' form, but the born in the spirit- touching the supernatural and having a communion and fellowship with God- type of faith.
In his work, you have the work of the Holy Spirit (Gandalf) ; of guardian, messenger, consoling angels (elves) ; death/redemption, the struggle and challenges of holding to that which is true; you have the evidences of that "hearing (internal) ear", healing and deliverance, words of knowledge and faith. Infact, all the gifts of the spirit.
You also have the other side of the supernatural spectrum- the fallen wizards - just as Lucifer fell, and fallen angels- the corrupted elves known as Orcs (goblins, wargs,etc) all fallen from their first estate. You also have the demon-oppressed and demon-possessed such as Gollum, the nine kings.
You have all of the characters challenges to overcome temptations, and discovering their inner conditions; these struggles are common to all, and have varying degrees of success.
You also see clearly that "To whom much is given much is required."
I can't imagine that anyone well versed in scripture could help but see the "shadows (inventions) of truth"
It seems to me that the faith-life in Tolkien was very strong, and the existence of an Almighty, supernatural God was a given. What he depicted was the struggle of Good vs Evil, the personal challenge to resist the Devil, and His ability to work all things for good in the lives of those that love Him.
Well, what do ya'll make of that?
The atheist certainly has no clue:
but I also think some people try a bit too hard to find connections.
If you know anything about Scripture or Christianity those "connections" hit you over the head and don't need to be found by trying too hard.
I know, I found myself tearing up in lots of places, and having Hallelujah breakdowns in others- that was the first run-through-
Now, since the Green Dragon I, II, & III, and re-reading with some idea where its going - well, it just blows your mind!
I'm just too old to go fishing for superficial stuff, ...
Hey, here's a cute saying that I say today.
Life must be a test- -
otherwise it would have come with better instructions.
Did you find any good comments this morning? I posted the best of what I read---and that didn't do much for me. Lin
You are certainly right about that! and it just proves that JRRT was a remarkable writer. Kinda like the Bible in that there are layer upon layers of meaning, the individual puts the brakes on at any depth they choose.
____But, as I said to OT, I'm just too old to waste much time with the trivial.
I'll read some more threads, but if it is just going to be a lot of folks trying to make his war experiences and his lack of parents the main focus, well, there's just too much good stuff to glean without getting the eyestrain.
How about putting out a Post to the list to see who is still interested?
I was really enjoying some of them, like Tuor, and Scott from the left coast, and haven't seen JenB for a long time, and remember Sam Cree. Those guys used to do some really great work, and there was an ecurbh(sic) haven't seen his posts forever! Though he did send in that Timeline. Lin
Not really...of course I didn't spend too much time there. The fonts hurt my eyes and I've got stuff to do. The comments were pretty obvious stuff and like you say, I'm too old to waste time on superficial stuff! :)
I like the discussion (and company, and pints, and wings) at The Green Dragon better.
Hehehe....not unless you want to include some of Tolkien's private or academic life. Anyone up to discussing the translation of Old English texts? That's as far as I've gotten in the course readings. I think we're way ahead or way deeper into the Middle Earth thing than most of the participants in this course. If I read another comment on how Elvish was based on Finnish, I'm going to scream!
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