SCANDINAVIAN R5A, Section 1: Exploring Middle-Earth: An Introduction to Norse Mythology Through Tolkien

TuTh 8-9:30 , Dwinelle 206. Instructor: Liam Waters

Units: 4

“The truth is that in [The Hobbit] a number of good things, never before united, have come together: a fund of humour, an understanding of children, and a happy fusion of the scholar’s with the poet’s grasp of mythology… The professor has the air of inventing nothing. He has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity that is worth oceans of glib “originality.” (The Times, October 8, 1937)

Of the many sources drawn upon by J.R.R. Tolkien in the creation of his Middle-Earth, none seem more prominent than the myths and legends of Medieval Scandinavia. Wandering wizards who cox heroes from their homes, troublesome trolls, and deadly dragons fill the landscape of both Tolkien’s world and the world of Norse mythology. Over the course of the semester, we shall discover not only what myths and legends Tolkien drew upon in creating Middle-Earth, but also begin to explore how retellings of these stories have influenced their preservation.

In this course, we will focus on developing thesis writing techniques, paper organization skills, and writing method. We will consider, over the course of the semester, the interplay between primary and secondary source material as well as questions of medium, context, and cultural impact.


Required Texts:

 The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. ISBN: 0618002219

Edda. trans. Anthony Faulkes. ISBN: 9780460876162

The Poetic Edda (2014). trans. Carolyne Larrington. ISBN: 9780199675340

Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. H.R. Ellis Davidson. ISBN: 9780140136272

Other assigned texts to be uploaded to bCourses.

Due to the high demand for R&C courses we monitor attendance very carefully. Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes, this includes all enrolled and wait listed students. If you do not attend all classes the first two weeks you may be dropped. If you are attempting to add into this class during weeks 1 and 2 and did not attend the first day, you will be expected to attend all class meetings thereafter and, if space permits, you may be enrolled from the wait list.