I would like to pass on my new experience as a teacher of Tolkien and
Middle Earth. I am an associate professor of piano at Concordia College
(ELCA), Moorhead, MN. The college just revamped its Freshman first-year
liberal arts experience, and they invited faculty to propose courses
that would help introduce students to the Liberal Arts. The key was
that each faculty teach according to their passion. Now, in addition to
Liszt and Beethoven, my musical passions, I am also a Tolkien nerd.
I proposed a class on Lord of the Rings. The college bit, and I am now
teaching 21 freshmen the text of The Lord of the Rings as a way of
introducing them to critical reading, thinking, and how to enter the
life of the mind. The class is a mixture of Tolkien fanatics like
myself, as well as those who liked the movies but never read the
stories. We have already discussed in class the Prologue, and Chaps.
1-2 of Book I. Interestingly enough, they all wanted to talk about
Gandalf and Frodo's exchange regarding pity, mercy, and Gollum's role in
the story. I required all of them to subscribe an email listserv for
the class, and the discussions online are flying!
I have never been so excited about classroom teaching!
Wish me luck, that I won't lose perspective, and that I won't get too
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