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Recorded HS
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Sign up today to discover new insights to “The Fellowship of the Ring”, which is a glorious exploration of ages of heroism and long-brooded evil. A new generation of hobbits is strengthened to take up the burden of the Ring and join in a great Fellowship to do the impossible and the seemingly suicidal.

Total classes: 7

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: 9th to 12th grade. However, this is a timeless story to be enjoyed by all ages.


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 pleasure-loving hobbits are strengthened to do impossible deeds by confronting the pure evil of the Nine Riders but also the pure goodness of the created world in Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. 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.


Week 1: A Long-Expected Party—Three is Company

Week 2: A Short Cut to Mushrooms—In the House of Tom Bombadil

Week 3: Fog on the Barrow-Downs—A Knife in the Dark

Week 4: Flight to the Ford—Many Meetings

Week 5: The Council of Elrond—The Ring Goes South

Week 6: A Journey in the Dark—Lothlorien

Week 7: Farewell to Lorien—The Breaking of the Fellowship

Materials and Homework

Course Materials: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R.Tolkien. Any unabridged edition will do.

Homework: Expect to read about 50 pages per week for about two hours per week outside of class on reading and homework. There will be weekly automated-graded quizzes available for immediate feedback, as well as two exams, one in the middle and one at the end of the course. Please come to class with thoughts and questions about what you have read.

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