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Tolkien: Scholar, Critic, Writer (TRU3025)

30 credits

J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century – and one of the most neglected figures in academic literary criticism. This module aims to redress this situation by examining Tolkien as a writer, critic, and scholar, and by investigating the popular culture inspired by his work in film, music and ephemera. The course will begin with Tolkien as a student of Old and Middle English philology, before focusing on his translations and criticism of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval poetry. The central component of the course will consist of detailed study of his three major works – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion with particular emphasis on the formation and revision of these and associated texts. Although this module is based on Tolkien’s writings, many new readers are coming to Tolkien through Peter Jackson’s films, and we will therefore be discussing film and other adaptations throughout the module as well as devoting some sessions solely to the movies.

The module will also consider how far Tolkien’s experience of place, including his trips to Cornwall, affected his work.

The course is most suitable for students who have already taken at least one Stage 2 module in English Literature, but should also appeal to those who are studying History or Geography.