ENGL 349 A: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 1:20pm
SAV 131
Kate Norako photo
Leila Kate Norako

Syllabus Description:

ENG 349: Worlds and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien

Course Description:

N.B.: this course will be taught either wholly online or in a hybrid format. 

This course invites students to critically engage with and examine the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, with particular attention paid to The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. We will focus our attention throughout the quarter on topics such as the following:

  • the mechanics and ethics of world-building
  • the literary and cultural influence that Tolkien’s works have wielded
  • Tolkien’s medievalism and medieval sources of inspiration
  • representations of gender and gendered power in Tolkien’s Middle Earth
  • representations of racial and cultural difference in Tolkien’s Middle Earth
  • adapting Tolkien’s works for the big screen

To allow us to delve as deeply as possible into the works in question, I am requiring that all students have read The Hobbit and The LOTR in their entirety before the start of class. I will be sending out weekly reminders once registration opens so that you are made well aware of this requirement. This will ensure that we are able to make the most of our course meetings and are able to have rich and fruitful discussions about the topics we aim to cover each week. If these seems daunting, fear not! Audiobooks have a tremendous amount to recommend them, and as it happens, the marvelous Andy Serkis (who brought Gollum/Smeagol to life in the Peter Jackson films) has recently narrative both The Hobbit and the entirety of LOTR. I am listening to them this Fall, in fact, and they are marvelous -- a very manageable alternative to wading through the print version between now and January!

In terms of grading, students will be evaluated on their preparedness for and participation in class, their participation in the online forums, and their successful completion of a robust final project. Their final project that can take one of two forms: a research essay (10-12 pages) on a particular “afterlife" of Tolkien’s work, or a creative adaptation in a medium/genre of the student’s choosing, which demonstrates levels of analysis commensurate with a research essay (i.e. a series of poems, a short story, a painting, short film, etc.). 

Major assignments:

  • Participation in synchronous sessions: 15%
  • Participation in weekly discussion forums: 40%
  • Participation in and completion of final project benchmarks (canvas forum workshops): 15%
  • Final Project (Creative or Expository): 30%


Full Syllabus and Course Schedule coming soon! 

Catalog Description: 
The study of the development of and specific debates in the related genres of fantasy and science fiction literatures
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 11, 2021 - 10:21pm