Dive into the rich and diverse academic world of Tolkien Studies.

Have you ever wanted to get a degree in Tolkien studies?
Now you can!

Tolkien courses are available at a number of colleges and universities, but they are mostly limited to an elective class or two. At Signum University, we have created an entire concentration around Tolkien’s works and life.

Why Study Tolkien?

Tolkien was the father of modern fantasy – but he was also much more. His stories emerged from his personal and academic interests, which included a deep love of both language and literature.

Tolkien left behind a wealth of stories, poems, essays, lectures, letters, and notes that scholars have continued to study for decades after his death. New books, monographs, and papers continue to be published to this day on Tolkien’s writings in core areas such as literary analysis, philology, and constructed languages, with applications to topics as diverse as politics, economics, and gender studies.

Over the last couple decades in particular, Tolkien scholarship has really begun to expand into new and bigger areas. This is due partly to the popularity of blockbuster movies made from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, it is also due to the growth of online forums where scholars, enthusiasts, and fans (categories that overlap significantly) can come together to discuss their intuitions, ideas, and insights with respect to Tolkien’s works.

The Next Step in Tolkien Scholarship

Signum University offers the next step in the evolution of Tolkien studies as a discipline. As part of our premier degree program, the M.A. in Language & Literature, this concentration in Tolkien Studies is quite possibly the first graduate degree available that allows students to focus primarily on Tolkien’s works and life.

  M.A. program details  

For those who are not ready to commit to a full M.A. program, you can also enroll in our Certificate Program or sit in on Tolkien-related courses as an auditor.

Meet the Tolkien Studies Faculty

Signum is blessed to be able to feature courses designed by professors who are world-renowned in their Tolkien scholarship. Read about these professors below, and click on their portraits to see more!

Dr. Tom Shippey

Former Chair of English Language and Medieval English Literature at the University of Leeds (a professorship Tolkien also held), Dr. Tom Shippey combines his love of Old English with a love of Tolkien’s works.

Dr. Verlyn Flieger

Having taught courses in Celtic, Arthurian, Hindu, Native American, and Norse myth, Dr. Verlyn Flieger is perhaps most well known for her writings on Tolkien’s work. She also co-edits the Tolkien Studies journal, an annual academic periodical on Tolkien’s work.

John Garth

In Tolkien and the Great War, John Garth shows that Tolkien was shaped by World War I as much as any of the other great early 2oth-century authors. He has shaped his seminal study into a course for Signum, incorporating new original research since the book was first released.

Dr. Corey Olsen

Known to fans as The Tolkien Professor, Dr. Corey Olsen has taken the helm of creating a new approach to Tolkien scholarship in the 21st century, first through his popular Tolkien Professor podcast, and now through the establishment of Signum University and its sister institution, the Mythgard Institute.

Tolkien Studies Courses

Currently, Signum University offers eight courses related to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. Students seeking a M.A. or Certificate with a concentration in Tolkien Studies must take at least five of these courses.

Tolkien Studies Courses at Signum University
Course Lecturer(s)
The Story of the Hobbit Dr. Corey Olsen
Tolkien’s World of Middle-earth Dr. Verlyn Flieger
Beyond Middle-earth Dr. Corey Olsen & Dr. Tom Shippey
Tolkien and Tradition Dr. Verlyn Flieger
Tolkien’s Poetry Dr. Corey Olsen
Lewis and Tolkien Dr. Corey Olsen
Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth John Garth
Beowulf Through Tolkien Dr. Tom Shippey

At least one Tolkien Studies course will be offered each semester. Courses will be offered on a rotating basis every 2 – 3 years. Course order, frequency, and availability may change without notice. Links to course descriptions above may go to an older version of the course. For current course offerings, visit the Signum course catalog.

Questions?
Contact Us!

If you have any questions about a concentration in Tolkien Studies or becoming a student, contact us.