Lord of the Rings

map of Middle EarthTOLKIEN/HNRS  301H1-002
Friday, 9:00-11:40 a.m., FALL 2024, GEAR 129

Note:  No application required. This is a one-credit course.  Only register for one hour of credit.

Like elves? Throwing things into volcanoes? Think that hobbits have it good with second breakfasts? This Retro Readings course invites you to think critically about these and other matters, and to develop a more sophisticated appreciation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. You might think Tolkien’s work is all fantasy, but he was an Oxford professor of medieval literature, and he thought deeply about the power of myth, the justness of war, and humanity’s relationship to the natural world. In this course, we will read the Lord of the Rings. In particular, we will study the critical reception of Tolkien’s work, his status as a post-war writer, adaptations of his work, and his use of medieval literature in creating his own fictional universe. We might also read a small sampling of his professional scholarship as a professor of medieval literature.


Man pulls manuscript folio from protective coverAbout Joshua Byron Smith: 

Joshua Byron Smith, associate professor of English, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. His research concerns the multilingual literary culture of high medieval Britain, with particular attention to Latin, Anglo-Norman French, Old and Middle English, and Welsh. He is especially interested in discovering networks of textual exchange between Wales and England, and in studying the literary culture of Britain and Ireland during the long twelfth century (c.1066-1215). His current research projects include a study of Brut y Brenhinedd (Middle Welsh translations and adaptations of Geoffrey of Monmouth), a Middle Welsh textbook, and a monograph on the circulation of Brittonic books (both in Latin and Brittonic languages) in the long twelfth century. Prof. Smith is also a Senior Mellon Fellow in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School.