This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others. 

Recorded HS
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: Bilbo’s Journey

Sign up to join renowned Tolkien scholar Joseph Pearce in studying this riveting tale of Smaug the dragon and Bilbo the hero. The Hobbit is the Christian journey of self-sacrifice out of love for others, and abandonment to providence and grace. A classic for ALL ages (including parents!).

Total classes: 6

Prerequisite: The ability to read and enjoy the book

Suggested grade level: 8th to 10th grade

Suggested credit: ½ semester Literature


Professor Pearce unlocks the Catholic meaning of The Hobbit. This course takes the students beyond dragons, dwarves and elves on a journey of discovery into the surprisingly deep meaning of Tolkien’s classic story. How is Bilbo’s journey our journey too? How does it reflect the truths of the Gospel?


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: Read Chapters 1-4. 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: Read Chapters 5-8. 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: Read Chapters 9-12. 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: Read Chapters 13-16. 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: Read Chapters 17-18. 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.

Materials and Homework

Course Materials: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (any edition, but Prof. Pearce will be reading from ISBN-10: 0261102214 or ISBN-13: 978-0261102217). Recommended, but not required, is Bilbo’s Journey: Discovering Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit by Prof. Joseph Pearce, ISBN-10: ‎1618900587 or ISBN-13: ‎978-1618900586

Homework: Reading assignment for each class and weekly quizzes graded by the computer for immediate feedback. Estimated time outside of class each week: 90 minutes of reading, reviewing, and quiz-taking.

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