SPRING, 1998


10 MWF

Dr. Jane Chance

J.R.R. Tolkien is now recognized as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century for his masterpiece, Lord of the Rings (written during a period from the end of the thirties to the early fifties). As an Oxford Professor and eminent medievalist, he wrote out of what he knew about Old English, Old Norse, and Middle English literature. As a contemporary of T.S. Eliot, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and other modernists, he wrote out of what he had lived through. The course will trace the tension between the exile, or the wraecca , and the community, between otherness and heroism, between identity and marginalization, between revenge and forgiveness.

To locate The Lord of the Rings within a broader historical and literary context, we will trace the development of his art, beginning with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a mythology for England, following up with The Silmarillion, and then investigating his works on fantasy and mythmaking, such as "Mythopoiea," "Leaf by Niggle," "On Fairy-Stories." Clearly evident will be his interest in medievalness--especially the Old English Beowulf. Cassettes and films of and about Tolkien and his writings will supplement readings and discussions.

Requirements: Class attendance is mandatory; your grade will be based on class participation/quizzes; 5 essays (2-3 pp. each); and a final exam.



Week 1

Tolkien's Life and Times

Jan. 12 Mon. and Jan. 14 Wed.

Read Letters #43, 163, 199, 213

I. Tolkien as Exile: "I Am in Fact a Hobbit"

Jan. 16 Fri. The Origin of the Name "Hobbit" and the Structure of the Children's Story

Week 2

Jan. 19 Mon. Martin Luther King Day

Jan. 21 Wed. The Heroism of Bilbo Baggins

Jan. 23 Fri.The Origins of Tolkien's Heroism: The Anglo-Saxon Beowulf

Week 3

Jan. 26 Mon. and Jan. 28 Wed. Exile and Heroism

Jan. 30 Fri. Film: Tolkien Remembered Paper #1 Due

II. The Lord of the Rings

Week 4

Feb. 2 Mon. The Composition of LOTR and the Issue of Allegory

Feb. 4 Wed. The Hobbit and the Fellowship

Feb. 6 Fri. Structure and Cartography

Week 5

Feb. 9 Mon. The Hobbit: The Development of Frodo as Hero

Feb. 11 Wed. The Rings of Power and Power in Middle-earth

Week 6

Feb. 16 & 18 Mon. and Wed. Religiosity and the Valar: The Elves, Galadriel

Feb. 20 Fri. Saruman and Gandalf. Two Wizards

Week 7
Feb. 23 Mon.
  • Read "Palantír" and "The Istari" in Unfinished Tales (On Reserve, PR 6039 O32U5 1980)
Feb. 25 Wed. The Ents, the Lost Entwives, and the Entmoot; Saruman's Adversaries
  • Read Noel, The Languages of Middle-earth , section on Rohan

Feb. 27 Fri. Gollum/Smeagol

  • Read The Two Towers, Book Four
  • Tolkien, Letter #246

Mar. 2-6 Midterm Break

Week 8

Mar. 9 Mon. (See above)

Mar. 11 Wed. Male Society and Women: Eowyn and Shelob Paper # 3 Due

Mar. 13 Fri. Aragorn and Providence, Determinism, and Free Will

  • Read Return of the King, Book Five

Week 9
Mar. 16 Mon.

Mar. 18 Wed. War and Pacifism

Mar. 20 Fri. Samwise Gamgee

  • Read Return of the King, Book Six

Week 10
Mar. 23 Mon. (cont.)

Mar. 25 Wed. The Return: "Home Again"

Mar. 27 Fri.

  • Read Silmarillion, "Ainulindale"

III. Tolkien as Artist/Art

Week 11

Mar. 30 Mon. Tolkien's Artwork

  • Read Hammond and Scull, ed. Tolkien as Artist and Illustrator
April 1 Wed., April 3 Fri., and April 6 Mon, Cinematic Adaptations of Tolkien: How Well Do They Work (Selections)?
  • The Arthur Rankin, Jr. /Jules Bass Production of The Hobbit (1977) 76 mins. Voices by Orson Bean, Richard Boone, Hans Conried, John Huston, Otto Preminger, Theodore Bikel, Glenn Yarborough
  • The Arthur Rankin, Jr. /Jules Bass Production of The Return of the King (I 979) 96 mins. (Voices by John Huston [Gandalfl, Orson Bean [Frodo], Roddy McDowell [Samwise], Theodore Bikel, William Conrad, Glenn Yarborough) Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings (1978) 130 mins.
  • The BBC Recordings on Audio-Tape

Week 12
April 6 Mon. (cont.) Paper #5 Due

IV.A Mythology for England: The Silmarillion
April 8 Wed. The Evolution of Arda and Language as its Seed: A Revolutionary Linguistic Aesthetic
  • Read Tolkien, Letters #131, 165, 186, 297

April 10 Fri. Spring Recess

Week 13

April 13 Mon.

  • Read Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils," pp. 29-112

April 15 Wed.

  • Read Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils," pp. 113-316
April 17 Fri. A Mythology for England. Problems and Methods
  • Read Tolkien, Letters #178, 180, 181, 211 Paper #6 Due

Tolkien and Faërie: The Quest for God

Week 14
April 20 Mon. On Fairy-Stories and Mythopoeia

Read Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories" (in the Reader), including excerpts from "Mythopoeia"

April 22 Wed. "Leaf by Niggle": The Faerie Paradise?

Read Tolkien, "Leaf by Niggle" (in the Reader)
April 24 Fri.


Office Hours 11-12 AM Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and by appointment
Office 301 Rayzor Hall
Office Phone 527-8101 X2625
Department Phone (for messages): 527-4840

E-mail: Dr. Chance: jchance@rice.edu

Homepage (through Riceinfo; syllabus, readings, pictures, etc.

Please direct any questions, comments, or suggestions about this page to jchance@rice.edu

this page was last updated on Oct. 27, 1997