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Friday, July 12, 2013

Tolkien and High School Literature

Fairy Stories; The Hobbit; Lord of the Rings. These are words that bring smiles to the faces of young and old alike.

Please join us this school year as we delve into J. R. R. Tolkien and his amazing stories. The following courses with Professor Joseph Pearce and Dr. Robert Gotcher are currently open for registration:

(click on course title to register)

Note: This course is limited to 12 students.
Class dates: Tuesdays, September 10 to October 15, 2013.
Total classes: 6
Starting time: 2:00 PM Eastern (1:00 Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Ability to read and enjoy the works.
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested high school credit: ½ semester Literature
Fee: $70 if you register on or before Aug. 1, 2013. $80 after Aug. 1st for all 6 classes.
Instructor: Robert Gotcher, Ph.D.
Course description: We will discuss five of J.R.R. Tolkien’s short stories in light of his essay “On Fairy-Stories.”
Course outline:
Week One: Tolkien and Fairy Stories
Week Two: Smith of Wootton Major
Week Three: Roverandom
Week Four: Farmer Giles of Ham
Week Five: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
Week Six: Leaf by Niggle
Course materials: On Fairy-Stories (Available free online); Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R. R. Tolkien; Roverandom, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Homework: Reading the stories. Fill out a literary worksheet on each book. Write your own fantasy story, graded by the instructor.

(click on course title to register)

Class dates: Wednesdays, October 30 to December 11, 2013. No class November 27
Total classes: 6
Starting time: 2:00 PM Eastern (1:00 Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: The ability to read and enjoy the book.
Suggested grade level: 8th to 10th grade
Suggested high school credit: ½ semester Literature
Fee: $90 if you register on or before Aug. 1, 2013. $110 if you register after Aug. 1st for all 6 classes. 
Course description: Professor Pearce unlocks, in two six-week courses, the Catholic meaning of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (see the spring semester for LOTR).
Course outline:
Class 1: Bilbo as Everyman. Introducing the author J. R. R. Tolkien, a lifelong practicing Catholic. Tolkien’s Catholic philosophy of creativity. Bilbo Baggins as an Everyman figure who holds up a mirror to the reader.
Class 2: Home-Loving Hobbits, Deadly Dragons and Clever Orcs. Following Bilbo from the Shire to the Misty Mountains. The danger of creature comforts. The necessity of adventure. The demonic nature of dragons. The wisdom of wizards and elves. The wicked cleverness of orcs.
Class 3: Gollum, the Ring and the Power of “Luck”. The role of Gollum and the Ring in The Hobbit versus their role in The Lord of the Rings. The role of “luck” in the riddling game between Bilbo and Gollum. The euphemistic use of “luck”. The relationship between luck and the freedom of choice. Providence and free will.
Class 4: Bilbo’s Ring and the Return of the King. The Franciscan spirit of Radagast and Beorn. Gandalf flies the nest. Bilbo comes of age. The return of the King in The Hobbit versus the return of the King in The Lord of the Rings. Thorin versus Aragorn.
Class 5: Dragon Sickness. The sun as a signifier of God’s omnipotence and omnipresence. “Above all shadows rides the sun.” The wickedness of Smaug. The contagiousness of dragon sickness. The dragon sickness as a prefigurement of the power of the Ring.
Class 6: The Death and Resurrection of Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo’s return home. The wisdom of the elves. Bilbo’s “death” and resurrection and its overarching significance.
Course materials: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Recommended (not required) is Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of The Hobbit by Professor Joseph Pearce.
Homework: Reading, weekly quizzes, and test. Graded by the instructor.

(click on course title to register)

Class dates: Wednesdays, January 8 to February 12, 2014.
Total classes: 6
Starting time: 2:00 PM Eastern (1:00 Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: The ability to read and enjoy the books.
Suggested grade level: 8th to 10th grade
Suggested high school credit: ½ semester Literature
Fee: $90 if you register on or before Nov. 1, 2013. $110 if you register after Nov. 1st for all 6 classes.
Course description: Professor Pearce unlocks, in two six-week courses, the Catholic meaning of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (see the fall semester for The Hobbit).
Course outline:
Week 1: A Fundamentally Catholic Work. Tolkien’s disclosure that The Lord of the Rings is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”. His belief that his Catholicism is the most important and the most significant ingredient of The Lord of the Rings. The Christian metadrama is unlocked by the significance of the One Ring and the date on which it is destroyed.
Week 2: The Darkening of the Ring. The transition of the significance of the Ring from its relatively harmless role in The Hobbit. The enigmatic Tom Bombadil as a Biblical signifier. The Council of Elrond.
Week 3: The Dark Powers. A discussion of the evil forces at work in The Lord of the Rings: Melkor; Sauron; Saruman; Wormtongue; Shelob; Balrgos; Orcs.
Week 4: Everyman Figures. A discussion of the Everyman figures: hobbits; Boromir; Faramir; Gollum.
Week 5: Christ figures. A discussion of Christ figures: Gandalf; Aragorn
Week 6: Death, Immortality and the Triumph of Grace. Tolkien on the allegorical significance of Power in The Lord of the Rings. His insistence that the work is an allegory of Death and Immortality. The significance of the elves. Galadriel and the Long Defeat. Death as a mystical “gift”. Gollum and the triumph of grace on Mount Doom.
Course materials: Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Should be completed by Week 2.
Homework: Reading, weekly quizzes, and test. Graded by the instructor.


Other live, interactive literature courses offered for the 2013/2014 school year (click on titles for more information):

Dante's Inferno with Dr. Henry Russell
Dantes' Purgatorio with Dr. Henry Russell
Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis with Dr. Robert Gotcher


We also offer Tolkien as recorded, independent learning courses through Unlimited Access (click here):
All of these are taught by Dr. Henry Russell and delve very deep into each of the books, spending 6 to 8 weeks on each:

The Hobbit for Middle School 
The Hobbit for High School
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for Middle School 
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for High School 
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for Middle School 
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for High School 
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for Middle School 
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 

Homeschool Connections offers more than 25 live or recorded literature courses for middle and high school.


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