SPRING, 2002



10:50-12:05 TTH                                                                                                                                 Dr. Jane Chance


J.R.R. Tolkien is now recognized as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century for his masterpiece, The 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--the wraecca--and the community, otherness and heroism, identity and marginalization, revenge and forgiveness.


To locate The Lord of the Rings within a broader historical and literary context, we will trace the development of Tolkien's art, beginning with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a mythology for England and following up with The Silmarillion. Along the way we will investigate his works on fantasy and mythmaking, such as “Mythopoiea,” “Leaf by Niggle,” and “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; 2 papers (5-7 pages each); a midterm and a final examination.


Texts (in order of reading):

Readings (both required and recommended texts) will also be placed on reserve (see below). Prices are those at amazon.com. Please note that ISBN numbers are important in order to have a text with page numbers cited in class.


J. R. R. Tolkien, Letters, ed. Humphrey Carpenter (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), pb  ISBN 0618056998 $12.00

____. The Hobbit, rev. ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 1937; rpt. 1999), Pb 0-618-00221-9 $9.60

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Norton Critical Edition, 2002), trans. Seamus Heaney, ed. Denis Donoghue, pb.  0393975800 $10.65

J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien Reader, 2nd ed. (Ballantine, 1989), pb PR 6039.032T6  1966 0345345061 $6.99

____, The Fellowship of the Ring (Ballantine, 1986), pb ISBN 0-345-33970-3

J. R. R. Tolkien,  The Two Towers (Ballantine, 1988), pb ISBN 0-345-33971-1

___ , Unfinished Tales (Ballantine, 1988), pb ISBN 0-345-35711-6

___  , Return of the King (Ballantine, 1988), pb ISBN 0-345-33973-8

The Silmarillion (Manner Books, 2001), 2nd ed., pb. PR 6039 .O32 S5   1977 6-93078 $11.20



Chance, Jane, The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power, rev. ed  (UPK, 2001) pb 0-8131-9017-7 $13.65

____, Tolkien’s Art: A Mythology for England, rev. ed. (UPK, 2001), pb 0-8131-9020-7 $13.65

Foster, Richard, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: From the Hobbit to the Silmarillion (Ballantine), pb. PR6039.O32 Z49 1993 0-345-32436-6

Hammond, Wayne G., and Christina Scull, ed. J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (Houghton Mifflin, 1997, rpt. 2000), pb. NG797.T64 H36 1995 0618083618 $17.50

Tolkien, J.R.R., The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, Acacia Press, 1997, pb. 0-261-10263-X $22.95




Introduction: Tolkien’s Life and Times

Week 1

Jan. 15 Tues.

Read Letters #43, 163, 199, 213

      1892-1911 The early years: South Africa, Mabel Tolkien, King Edward’s School,              Father Francis  Morgan, Edith Bratt

      1911-1920  Oxford University, Edith Bratt, WWI, the germ of “The Silmarillion”

1920-25 Leeds University

1925-1959 Oxford University: C.S. Lewis, the Inklings, and the Tolkien Family

1917ff The “Lost Tales”

1929-37 The Hobbit

1937-1954 The Lord of the Rings

1959-73 Retirement and the `Silmarillion’

                                     I. A Mythology for England: The Silmarillion


Jan. 17 Thurs. The Evolution of Arda and Language as its Seed: A Revolutionary Linguistic Aesthetic

            Read Silmarillion, “Ainulindale”; “Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils,” pp. 1-112

Read Tolkien, Letters #131, 165, 186, 297


Week 2

Jan. 22 Tues.

Jan. 24 Thurs. Read Silmarillion, “Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils,” pp. 113-316

Read Tolkien, Letters #178, 180, 181, 211


Week 3

Jan. 29  Tues. Read Kalevala: Tale of Kullervo                      Paper #1 Due


II. Tolkien as Exile: “I Am in Fact a Hobbit

Jan. 31  Thurs. The Origin of the Name “Hobbit” and the Structure of the Children’s Story

Read Tolkien, Letter #257

Tolkien, The Hobbit, Chapters 1-7

            Week 4

Feb. 5 Tues. The Heroism of Bilbo Baggins

Tolkien, The Hobbit, Chapters 8-14

Feb. 7 Thurs.  “There and Back Again” Read Tolkien, The Hobbit, Chapters 15-19


III. The Origins of Tolkien’s Heroism: The Anglo-Saxon Beowulf and Beorhtnoth

Week 5

Feb. 12 Tues. Read Beowulf: The Hero Beowulf and Bilbo

Feb. 14 Thurs. Tolkien’s Recording of the Drama Tolkien, “Homecoming of Beorthnoth Beorthelm’s Son”

Read The Battle of Maldon (Hand-out)


Week 6

Feb. 19 Tues. Exile and Heroism     

            Read Tolkien, “Homecoming of Beorthnoth Beorthelm’s Son” (in the Tolkien Reader, pp. 3-27)

Feb. 21- Thurs.  Film: Tolkien Remembered


Week 7


Feb. 26 Tues.  Tolkien’s Artwork (Slide Lecture)

Read Hammond and Scull, ed. Tolkien as Artist and Illustrator                                 

Feb. 28  Thurs. Midterm Examination

Mar. 4-8  Midterm Break


III. The Lord of the Rings


Week 8


Mar. 11 Tues. The Composition of LOTR and the Issue of Allegory


Read Tolkien’s “Foreword” and Fellowship, Chap. 1

Letters #142, 215, 328; 129, 181, 203

Mar. 13 Thurs. The Hobbit and the Fellowship

Read Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1


Week 9

Mar. 18 Tues. The Hobbit: The Development of Frodo as Hero


Read Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring, Books 1-2

Read Tolkien, Letters #191, 192, 24

Mar. 20 Thurs. Religiosity and the Valar: The Elves, Galadriel

Elven Songs Sung by Tolkien (from The Road Goes  Ever On (Hand-out)

Read Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2 (cont.)

                Read the Chapter on Galadriel in Unfinished Tales, pp. 239-80


Week 10

Mar. 25 Tues. Saruman and his Adversaries: The Ents, the Lost Entwives, and the Entmoot

Read The Two Towers, Book Three

Tolkien's Reading of the Coming of the Ents (cassette)

Mar. 27 Thurs. Saruman and Gandalf: Two Wizards         

            Read “Palantír” and “The Istari” in Unfinished Tales (On Reserve, PR 6039 O32U5 1980)

            Tolkien, Letter #246


Week 11


April 2 Tues. Gollum/Smeagol

            Read The Two Towers, Book Four


April 4 Thurs. Male Society and Women: Eowyn and Shelob

Read Return of the King, Book Five


Week 12


April 9 Tues. Aragorn: War and Pacifism

Read Return of the King, Book Six


April 11 Thurs. The Return, Home Again: Samwise Gamgee


IV. Tolkien as Artist and Adaptations of His Works


Week 13


April 16 Tues. Tolkien and Faërie: The Quest for God

            Read Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories” (in the Reader), including “Mythopoeia” (Hand-out)


April 18 Thurs. Read Tolkien, “Leaf by Niggle” (in the Reader)


                                                                                                                        Paper #2 Due

Week 14


April 23 Tues. Cinematic/Audio Adaptations:  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 (1979) 96 mins. (Voices by John Huston [Gandalf], Orson Bean [Frodo], Roddy McDowell Samwise], Theodore Bikel, William Conrad, Glenn Yarborough)

            Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings (1978) 130 mins

            Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring


April 25 Thurs. Cinematic/Audio Adaptations:  How Well Do They Work (Selections) (cont.)

            The BBC Recordings on Audio-Tape

            Nicol Williamson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Others 

            Johan de Meij, Symphony no. 1, “The Lord of the Rings”         


Final Examination

On Reserve (in addition to works listed above):

J.R.R. Tolkien,  Book of Lost Tales PR6039.O32B6 1984

____________, Lays of Beleriand PR6039.O32 L3 1985

____________, The Old English Exodus PR1609.A3T6 1981

____________, Father Christmas Letters PR6039.O32F38 1991

____________, Lays of Beleriand  PR6039.O32 L3 1985

____________, Lost Road and Other Writings PR6039.O32 L64 198

____________, Morgoth’s Ring: The Later Silmarillion, Part 1 PR6039.O32 M67 1933b

____________, Peoples of Middle-earth PR6039.O32 P41996

____________, Pictures  N6797.T64 A4 1992

____________, Return of the Shadow PR6039.O32 L6374 1

____________, Sauron Defeated: The End of the Third Age PR6039.)32 L63743 1992b

____________, The Shaping of Middle-earth PR6039.O32    S461986b

____________, Treason of Isengard PR6039.O32 L6375 1

____________, Tree and Leaf PN3437 .T6 1965

____________, War of the Ring  PR6039.O32L6377 1990b


Beard, Henry N., and Douglas C. Kenney, Bored of the Rings: A Parody of J. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (Harvard Lampoon/NAL) PS3552.E16 B 6

Carpenter, Humphrey, Tolkien: A Biography  PR6039.O32 Z621977

Day, David, The Tolkien Companion  PR6039.O32 Z49 1993b

Day, David , Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia (Simon and Schuster, 1992), pb.  PR6039.)32 Z634 1991

Donaldson, E.T., trans. Beowulf PR1583.D6

Duriez, Colin, The J.R.R.Tolkien Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to his Life, Writings, and the World of Middle-earth  PR6039.032 Z639 1992

Flieger, Verlyn, Splintered Light PR6039.O32 S5325 1983

Fonstad, Karen Wynn, The Atlas of Middle-earth (Houghton Mifflin) G3122.M5 F6 1991

Giddings, Robert, J. R. R. Tolkien PR6039.O32 L6337 1982

Goodknight, Glen, ed. Proceedings of the J. R. R. Tolkien Centenary Conference, 1992 PR6039.O32 Z6641995

Gordon, R., Anglo-Saxon Poetry  PR1508.G65

Green, William, The Hobbit: A Journey into Maturity  PR6039.032 Z646 1995

Helm, Randel, Tolkien’s World PR6039.O32 Z66

Isaacs, Neil, and Rose Zimbardo, ed. Tolkien: New Critical Perspectives (Univ. Kentucky Press, 1981) PR6039.O32 Z85

W. Kilby, ed. Kalevala PH 324.E5 K5

Shippey, T.A., The Road to Middle-Earth PR6039.O32 Z8241983

Strachey, Barbara, Journeys of Frodo: An Atlas G3122.M5 S7 1992

Swann, Donald, The Road Goes Ever On M1621.4 .S93

Tolkien, John and Priscilla, The Tolkien Family Album   PR6039.O32 Z845 1992

Unwin, Rayner, The Making of the Lord of the Rings  PR6039.O32 Z6386 1992

Tolkien Remembered (videorecording) PR6039.032 Z855 1993

Tyler, J.E.A., The Tolkien Companion PR6039 .O32 Z49

West, Richard, Tolkien Criticism: An Annotated  Checklist, 2nd ed. (Kent State, 1981) Z8883 .4S.W45 1981

Paper Topics:


Paper #1: Select one of the volumes of The History of Middle-earth and explain the importance of one of the tales in relation to The Silmarillion, OR


                Explain the relationship of some aspect of The Kalevala to the Silmarillion.


Paper #2: Select some aspect of the film of The Fellowship of the Rings and explain it as an adaptation or interpretation of Tolkien’s novel. How successful is it? Does it Hollywoodize Tolkien, or does it project his mythology in a different way?


                Or explain how some tale in one of the volumes of The History of Middle-earth illuminates its parallel in The Lord of the Rings.


     Office Hours   3:30-4:15 TTH and by

     Office         501 Rayzor Hall

     Office Phone   713-348-2625

     Department Phone (for messages): 713-348-4840

     Department Fax: 713-348-5991

     E-mail: jchance@rice.edu









©Copyright 2001, all rights reserved.
Updated Oct. 31, 2001

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