Because of the length and richness of the text, this course will study and discuss Tolkien’s central work, The Lord of the Rings, over three semesters. The Spring 2022 course will focus on The Two Towers. It is not required that a fellow have taken the first course on The Fellowship of the Ring to enroll in the 2nd of the 3 courses. However, if a fellow has not read Tolkien’s work prior to this course, then it is expected that he/she will have read (not simply watched!) The Fellowship prior to beginning the course on The Two Towers.
In this 2nd course, we will continue to examine how Tolkien presents the extent of human autonomy before superhuman, evil forces. He returns his reader to an understanding of the centrality of community, the existence of providential powers that prevail over demonic ones, and the fundamental dignity of the human person. Questions the course will consider: What is the role of the person before overpowering evil? Does freedom exist and to what extent? How does Tolkien present friendship and community? Why is the Christian God not made explicit in Middle-earth? How is God both nowhere and everywhere to be found in Middle-earth? Why does Tolkien’s work continue to resonate with contemporary readers?
Course starts Tuesday, February 8th, 2022 at 5:30pm PST (8:30pm EST), and continues for EIGHT consecutive Tuesdays.
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999, 2002, 2005.
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Page numbers correspond with the standard Houghton Mifflin division. Universal Book and chapter numbers are also provided if a fellow does not have the matching edition.
Class I: Pages 15-46 / Book III. 1-2: Freedom and Limitation of Choice: Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas
Class II: Pages 47-90 / III.3-4: False and True Communities: The Orcs and the Ents
Class III: 91-130 / III.5-6: Acedia, Friendship, and Action: Théoden, the Rohirrim, and Gandalf
Class IV: 131-180: III.7-9: Courage, Sacrifice, Honor and Reward: the Battle of Helm’s Deep
Class V: 181-206: III.10-11: Deception and Division, Friendship and Trust: Saruman and Gandalf
Class VI: 209-255: Book IV: 1-3: Pity and the Extension of Friendship: Frodo, Sam and Smeagol
Class VII: 256-302: IV: 4-6: Unlooked for Friends: Faramir
Class VIII: 303-352: IV: 7-10: Betrayal, Death and Decisions: Samwise Gamgee