Effective Date of this Description/Syllabus: Fall 2009

Prepared by: Dr. Rhonda Wilcox

Office: Fine Arts 202

Phone: 678 359-5296

email: rhonda_w@gordonstate.edu

Fall office hours: MWF 11-12 and 1-2; MW 4-5




Course Designation: COLQ 2994H

Course description for the college bulletin: Honors Colloquium: A course intended for students to explore and examine the ideal question of the whole person through writing and discussion of various texts in a seminar format. The course will be interdisciplinary and will emphasize reading, discussion, critical thinking skills and research from different academic disciplines. The student in their quest for wholeness as a person, can explore their world both locally and globally while realizing their responsibilities as evolving individuals.

Section A

Course Title: Tolkienís Lord of the Rings: Literature and Culture

Class hours per week: 2

Credit hours: 2

Division offering course: Humanities

Prerequisite for the course: A C or better in English 1101 and Honors status or permission of the director of the Honors Program

Course description for college schedule:This course will explore the literary qualities and cultural grounding of Tolkienís work, including discussion of the heroís journey (Campbellís monomyth), Tolkienís medieval studies, and more.


Teacherís Course objectives:

To help students

See the underlying structures within narrative;

Recognize the variations of such structures in various stories;

Understand that these choices help explain the psychological and social significance of the stories;

And enjoy the aesthetic variations provided by a master of narrative.

The overall purpose is to learn from each other (teacher and students alike) by reading and discussing Tolkienís work.


Course Content:

Students will focus on one of the seminal works of narratological theory and comparative religion, Joseph Campbellís The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and learn to apply it to the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Campbellís is the premier articulation of the heroís journey, which he calls the monomyth. Students will learn to see underlying structures within narrative and comprehend that such structures can be found in other narratives as well as Tolkienís books. Furthermore, the class will discuss the social, religious, and psychological implications of the particular variations of the narrative pattern presented by Tolkien.


Required Texts:


Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 3rd ed. Bollingen Series 17. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again. 1937. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

---. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings. 1954. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

---. The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings. 1954. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

---. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings. 1955. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

Honors Project:

            Your honors project should be developed over the course of most of the term. You are required to have at least one planning conference with me and are welcome to have more; I will always be pleased to talk Tolkien, so feel free to show up at my office. (Bring your friends!) You may, if you wish, write a term paper on any of a variety of subjects: there is a considerable body of written scholarship on Tolkien, and you could discuss his workís medieval elements, linguistics, religious themes, gender presentations , race or class implications, representation in film or on stage, or many other topics. You may also, if you wish, plan another type of project that demonstrates thoughtful exploration of the subject. For example, you could yourself write a piece of fiction that emulates qualities of Tolkien in terms of linguistics, setting, character, and/or narrative structure (e.g. the heroís journey); you could even write an extra chapter for one of the books, if you like. You could attempt a set of lyrics written in the poetic style of the elves or the hobbits, or even a set of songs (words and music) appropriate for the characters (cf. the LOTR stage musical). You could create a videogame based on the charactersí experiences and the elements of the heroís journey. (N. B. Remember copyright laws. If you use actual Tolkien characters, this videogame would have to be for our course only!) You could do an audience study, devising a set of questions on matters important to you and surveying and videotaping responses of various Tolkien readers and/or viewers. You could extend the visual work done by Tolkien and his son with maps and illustrations, writing a commentary to explain your choices. You have great freedom in shaping your project. Start thinking now, and talk to me about your thoughts soon. Expecially if you feel a bit lost, talk to me soon. After we bounce ideas around, you should be able to come up with an idea for something you would be happy to share with others. Then you can slowly develop it throughout the semester.



Grading:         Quizzes:                                                                                               20%

                        Participation (oral and written)                                                             20%

Midterm Exam:                                                                                                20%

Honors Project  (planning conference required)                                              20%

Final Exam:                                                                                         20%


Standards: A=90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69


Attendance policy: The word colloquium refers to the idea of conversation. Class participation is essential to a colloquium, as the percentage of the grade accorded it above would suggest. You will find that experiencing a groupís reaction to a piece of writing is something that cannot be recreated through merely reading class notes. Furthermore, specific in-class activities will be used to help establish your participation grade, and in most cases these activities must be carried out during a particular class period. I do understand that some absences are unavoidable (and in fact we should be cautious about contagion in Swine flu time); if you must miss a class, let me know beforehand if you can (or leave a phone or email message even during class if need be); ask me or a classmate about assignments so you can prepare in case there is a pop quiz when you return to class. If you miss more than four classes you should not expect to pass the class. My home phone number is (404)373-5328. If you cannot contact me or a classmate, then read the next assignment listed on the syllabus. If you are in class, you will be expected to take the quiz. And in any case, I doubt you will want to miss this class!








Week 1 (8/17-19) Introductory material; Campbell, Prologue: The Monomyth: pp. 11-37


Week 2 (8/24-26) Campbell, Part I Ch. 1: The Adventure of the Hero: Departure, pp. 41-79; The Heroís Journey writ small: Tolkienís The Hobbit, Ch. 1-6


Week 3 (8/31-9/2) Campbell, Part I Ch. 2: Initiation, pp. 81-165; Hobbit Ch. 7-12


Week 4 (9/7-9) Labor Day Holiday Monday; Campbell, Part I Ch. 3: Return, 167-205; Hobbit Ch. 13-19 (end)


Week 5 (9/14-16) Campbell, Part I Ch. 4: The Keys, 211-15; The Heroís Journey writ large: TolkienísThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (FR): Prologue and Book I Ch. 1-5


Week 6 (9/21-23) FR Ch. 6-12 (end Bk. I)


Week 7 (9/28-30) FR Bk. 2 Ch. 1-5


Week 8 (10/5-7) Midterm; FR Bk. 2 Ch. 6-10


Week 9 (10/14) Fall Break Monday-Tuesday; The Two Towers (TT) [Bks 3 & 4]; Bk 3 Ch. 1-5


Week 10 (10/19-21) TT Bk 3 Ch. 6-11; last week for required project conference without penalty


Week 11 (10/26-28) TT Bk. 4 Ch. 1-5


Week 12 (11/2-4) TT Bk. 4 Ch. 6-10


Week 13 (11/9-11) The Return of the King (RK) [Books 5 & 6]: Bk 5 Ch. 1-6


Week 14 (11/16-18) RK Bk. 5 Ch. 7óBk. 6 Ch. 3


Week 15 (11/23) Thanksgiving Holiday Wed.-Fri.; RK Bk. 6 Ch. 4-9 (end)


Week 16 (11/30-12/2) Further discussion of our heroesí journeys; projects due for presentation


Week 17 (12/7-9) Project presentations continued

Final Exam: Wednesday December 9, 12:30ó2:30


Note: Additional readings and writing may be assigned during the semester.

Most important note: Feel free to ask questions and express your opinion.