Beyond Middle-earth

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

What do we learn about Tolkien’s imagination through his short stories? Through his poems? Through his scholarship? Through his books for children?

Tolkien’s Middle-earth legends dominated his creative life, from their birth in the early Silmarillion tales through their absorption of Bilbo Baggins’s diary and their culmination in the tale of the Great Ring. However, throughout his life, Tolkien wrote many small pieces of prose and verse that were not directly drawn into the great narrative of Middle-earth. Tolkien’s children’s books, his scholarship, his short stories, and his eclectic short poems combine to provide a unique glimpse into Tolkien’s thought and imaginative development over the course of fifty years. Join Signum President Corey Olsen and the great Tolkien and Anglo-Saxon scholar Tom Shippey for an in-depth look at a J.R.R. Tolkien you might never have met before.

Course Schedule

Week 1

Leaf by Niggle

Week 2

Farmer Giles of Ham

Week 3

“The Adventures of Tom Bombadil”

Week 4

Short Poems: Of Boots, Bimble Bay, and the Man in the Moon

Week 5

Short Poems: Of Beasts, Fabulous Monsters, and Fairies

Week 6

Short Poems: Of Diverse Mariners

Week 7

Smith of Wootton Major

Week 8

Tolkien’s Scholarship: Beowulf – Dr. Tom Shippey

Week 9

Tolkien’s Scholarship: Beorhtnoth and Sir Gawain – Dr. Tom Shippey

Week 10

Tolkien’s Scholarship: Pearl and Sir Orfeo – Dr. Tom Shippey

Week 11

The Father Christmas Letters

Week 12


Required Texts

The Amazon links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase texts wherever they wish.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Spring 2024Dr. Sara Brown & Sparrow Alden
Summer 2019Dr. Erin Aust & Liam Daley
Summer 2017Dr. Liam Daley
Summer 2013Dr. Erin Aust & Liam Daley

Course Artwork

Course artwork adapted from an original illustration by Breana Melvin. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Beyond Middle-earth

Join Corey Olsen and Tom Shippey for an in-depth look at the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

START: January 8, 2024

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITA 5307