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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for Middle School

We have been getting a good number of requests from parents to add younger students to our Tolkien courses. Therefore, we've added a second set of courses.  Dr. Henry Russell will now teach the series for middle school as well as high school.

Both sets of courses will take place on Tuesdays, with high school (9th to 12th) starting at 10:00 am Eastern and middle school (6th to 8th) starting at 11:30 am Eastern. Both sets of courses will have the same course outline, with the high school classes going deeper into the material and lasting one hour (middle school classes are 45 minutes).

Here are the course details for each of the middle school courses:


(click on title for registration)
 
Class dates: Tuesdays, Sept. 11 to Oct. 16, 2012
Total classes: 6
Starting time: 11:30 am Eastern (10:30 Central)
Duration: 45 minutes
Prerequisite: Ability to read the book with pleasure at about 3 chapters per week.
Suggested grade level: 6th to 8th grade.
Fee: $80 if you register on or before Aug. 1, 2012. $90 after Aug. 1 for all 6 classes.
Instructor: Henry Russell, Ph.D.
Course description: Tolkien’s The Hobbit was written as a children’s story and retains much of the clarity and light-heartedness of its kind. But Bilbo Baggins’ world is slowly made richer and deeper both by the author’s use of the Catholic elements from the great medieval saga of Beowulf and the background world of Tolkien’s deepest Elvish imaginings. By the end of the novel, Tolkien’s life-long themes of 1) a long-fought history that shapes the needs of every modern day; 2) the need for heroism from simple people; 3) the necessity for constant moral vigilance by those who are destined to lead; 4) the conquest of charity over greed; and 5) the sorrow and beauty created by these first four themes, have penetrated to the heart of the reader. The success of this novel convinced Tolkien and his wise and humane publishers, Allen and Unwin, that the modern world was ready to hear more of the complex moral and supernatural world which Tolkien once thought was of interest mostly to scholars of the ancient like himself. We will both discuss the book and welcome comments about the new movie coming out in December.
Course outline:
Class 1: An Unexpected Party—A Short Rest
Class 2: Over Hill and Under Hill—Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire
Class 3: Queer Lodgings—Flies and Spiders
Class 4: Barrels out of Bond—On the Doorstep
Class 5: Inside Information—Fire and Water
Class 6: The Gathering of the Clouds—The Last Stage
Course materials: The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
Homework: One to one and one-half hours per week. Weekly Quiz with answer keys provided for parental or self grading.

(click on title for registration)

Class dates: Tuesdays, Oct. 23 to Dec. 11, 2012
Total classes: 8
Starting time: 11:30 am Eastern (10:30 Central)
Duration: 45 minutes
Prerequisite: Ability to read the book and ask questions. Since most students will have seen the Peter Jackson films and will want to make comparisons, it is probably a good idea to see them.
Suggested grade level: 6th to 8th grade
Fee: $90 if you enroll on or before Aug. 1, 2012. $110 after Aug. 1 for all 8 classes
Instructor: Henry Russell, Ph.D.
Course description: This trilogy of novels is too well known for any brief description to be of use here. They are the most popular books of the twentieth-century and quite likely to be among the central books of Western literature. The poet Auden thought they compare well with Milton’s Paradise Lost. We will discuss the volumes in their outer form of a mythologized hero struggle of the kind with which Classical Liberal Education is replete (from Homer’s Iliad, and Virgil’s Aeneid through the Norse eddas and Anglo-Saxon poems and Arthurian romances). At the same time we will read them in light of Tolkien’s unambiguous declaration that "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.” As such they reflect an imagined world that parallels clearly with the world of suffering and redemption shown forth in a book as deep as the Bible. 
 The Fellowship of the Rings takes us from the Hobbit world of ordinary comfort into confrontation with the evil that has always plagued the created world. It asks for individual sacrifice from several creatures only to show them that they are linked into a vast body of those who strive to keep goodness alive, each on very different levels of culture and consciousness. This ancient body is full of poetry, beauty, and varied forms of virtue. The fellowship forms to do the impossible and the seemingly suicidal, and in the mines of Moria and on the banks of the river Anduin, the band is made to pay a terrible price for thoughtlessness and to fall apart from individual sin.
Course outline:
Class 1: Biography of Tolkien;
Class 2: A Long-Expected Party--Three is Company
Class 3: A Short Cut to Mushrooms--Fog on the Barrow-downs
Class 4: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony- - Knife in the Dark
Class 5: Flight to the Ford—The Council of Elrond
Class 6: The Ring Goes South—The Bridge of Khazad-dum
Class 7: Lothlorien—Farewell to Lorien
Class 8: The Great River—The Breaking of the Fellowship
Course materials: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R.Tolkien
Homework: Two hours per week. Weekly Quiz with answer keys provided for parental or self grading.


(click on title for registration)

Class dates: Tuesdays, Jan. 15 to Mar. 12, 2013. No class Jan. 22 or Feb. 19.
Total classes: 7
Starting time: 11:30 am Eastern (10:30 Central)
Duration: 45 minutes
Prerequisite: Ability to read the book and ask questions.
Suggested grade level: 6th to 8th grade.
Fee: $85 if you register on or before Aug. 1, 2012. $100 after Aug. 1 for all 7 classes.
Instructor: Henry Russell, Ph.D.
Course description: The Two Towers creates a clear contrast between a culture based on selflessness and regard for the common good with an anti-culture based on pure selfishness and the desire to domineer over others. The anti-culture controls both the two literal towers of Saruman’s Orthanc and Cirith Ungol—both of them forced to serve the even greater tower of Sauron’s Mordor. The civilization of good offers the Mark of Rohan as its immediate heroic defender, backed by more ancient forces of the Ents and the Elves, to some degree coordinated by the towers of the city of Gondor. Yet the battles between these titanic forces are always being compared to the personal willingness of two hobbits to give everything they possess for the sake of the good that they love.
Course outline:
Class 1: The Departure of Boromir—The Uruk-Hai
Class 2: Treebeard—The White Rider
Class 3: The King of the Golden Hall—The Road to Isengard
Class 4: Flotsam and Jetsam—The Palantir
Class 5: The Taming of Smeagol—The Black Gate is Closed
Class 6: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit—The Forbidden Pool
Class 7: Journey to the Cross-roads—The Choices of Master Samwise
Course materials: The Two Towers. J.R.R.Tolkien.
Homework: Two hours per week. Weekly Quiz with answer keys provided for parental or self grading.

(click on title for registration)

Class dates: Tuesdays, March 19 to May 14, 2013. No class Mar. 26 or Apr. 2.
Total classes: 7
Starting time: 11:30 am Eastern (10:30 Central)
Duration: 45 minutes
Prerequisite: Ability to read the book and ask questions.
Suggested grade level: 6th to 8th grade
Fee: $85 if you register on or before Nov. 1, 2012. $100 after Nov. 1 for all 7 classes.
Instructor: Henry Russell, Ph.D.
Course description: The Return of the King reaches into the realm of Arthurian Romance (which is itself based on the resurrection of the Christ), to offer a vision of Armageddon and world war where defeat means unguessed centuries of darkness, although victory means holding the darkness only at bay while creating a new civilization that will be attacked again someday. Here again, the personal agon and faithfulness of individual creatures is the central necessity for the victory of massive institutions and allegiances. All literature is moral in its center, and great literature reflects great moral truth. It was Tolkien’s genius to express the great truths of Christian civilization in a way, which could re-inspire and re-invigorate an age where many have lost immediate contact with those Christian roots.
Course outline:
Class 1: Minas Tirith—The Passing of the Grey Company
Class 2: The Muster of Rohan—The Ride of the Rohirrim
Class 3: The Battle of the Pellenor Fields—The Last Debate
Class 4: The Black Gate Opens—The Land of Shadow
Class 5: Mount Doom—The Steward and the King
Class 6: Many Partings—The Grey Havens
Class 7: Open Topics
Course materials: The Return of the King. J.R.R.Tolkien.
Homework: Two hours per week. Weekly Quiz with answer keys provided for parental or self grading.

For information on the LOTR Series for high school, please click here: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for High School.

Instructor biography: Dr. Henry Russell is Headmaster of the St. Augustine’s Homeschool Enrichment Program founded with his wife Crystal. The program began in Fall 2005 with 20 students in two living rooms and now tutors more than 70 students. He is also the President of the SS Peter and Paul Educational Foundation, dedicated to founding an orthodox Catholic Liberal Arts college in southeast Michigan.
          A graduate of Princeton and South Caroline (M.S.), Dr. Russell completed his graduate work at Louisiana State University. Formerly the Chairman of Ave Maria College’s Department of Literature, he has also been a professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville and Wake Forest University. He is a founding faculty member of the St. Robert Southwell Creative Writing Workshop held in Mahwah, New Jersey.
          Dr. Russell’s works include The Catholic Shakespeare Audio Series available from Kolbe Academy. He was the Associate Editor of The Formalist from 1990-2004 and his writings have been published in various journals. He was honored to edit Dr. Alice von Hildebrand’s groundbreaking volume, The Privilege of Being a Woman.

Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.
Misc:
Dr. Russell will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.

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