General Information

Gollum+Frode+Sam

Prof. Hank Edmondson
hank.edmondson@gcsu.edu
Fall 2013
Office: 206 A&S 
706-421-2671 cell (try texting first-DON'T FORGET TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF) 
478-564-0943 office 
M Evening 5:30-8:15
A & S, 240, Dept. of Government &sociology
OFFICE HOURS: MONDAY: 11-2, 4-5; Wed 11-2.

Description and Objectives: 
Students in this course will study J.R.R. Tolkien's work in light of the political and ethical themes of heroism, servant-leadership, virtue and its dependence upon bucolic life, political community, the nature of evil, nihilism, mystery, the necessity of myth for political preservation, environmentalism, and the inescapably corrupting influence of power. It will draw upon political philosophers such as plato, aristotle, Machiavelli, St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, Plutarch, Homer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Jefferson and essayists Joseph Addison and Lord Acton. 

Also included will be consideration of the influence of WWI, especially the existentialist nature of campaigns such as Verdun, the Battle of the Somme and the tactic of trench warfare,  experiences which  exerted profound influence upon Tolkien who served in the Eleventh Lancashire Fusiliers. Tolkien explains in his correspondence that he thought Western Civilization was in peril and he hoped that his middle earth myth-making would inspire its preservation.

A recent letter to the editor in the GC&SU newspaper does a nice job of explaining the political relevance of Lord of the Rings   
        
In spite of the junkets, fun and games, only serious students should enroll in "Power, Politics and Tolkien." (POLS 4950 CSN 23698). Students will be evaluated by a mid-term and comprehensive final (both essay format), weekly essays on assigned readings, class participation, and a research paper. 

Attendance will be monitored: excessive absences and chronic tardiness will not be tolerated so that students must make a "hobbit" of regular, engaged and punctual class attendance and assignment submission. No wizardry will substitute for shire-like diligence in the course. Space is limited to insure a seminar-like atmosphere in the class. Contact Prof. Hank Edmondson (hank.edmondson@gcsu.edu) for more details.

Texts:
Students must order texts themselves. they will not be available in the bookstore. Students are required, moreover, to purchase and use the one volume edition described below. 

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (any edition)
2. Lord of the Rings: One Volume Edition by J. R. R. Tolkien Houghton Mifflin Edition 

You can buy either the HARDBACK EDITION or the paperback edition--the pagination is the same you will probably find it much cheaper to buy a good used copy (you can do that at amazon and at barnesnoble.com) than to buy a new copy. If at all possible get the 1991 edition, or at least an edition that has the following page correspondence: Page 146 begins Chapter IX "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony" begins. The first word on the page is "Bree."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0395974682/qid=1100376153/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-8741522-8546529?v=glance&s=books

Reserve Reading:
See course outline below. 
Here are a select list of journals and texts that might be of interest

Helpful Websites:
The Encyclopedia of Arda ( a Reference Guide to the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien)
http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.asp

Lord of the Rings Maps
http://www.lord-of-the-rings.org/collections/maps.html
http://larsen-family.us/~1066/LotRmap.html
 
http://mikesrpgcenter.com/lordoftherings/maps.html

Fire Safety Message
In the event of a fire alarm signal students should exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit. First and second floor classes
should exit through ground level exits; third floor classes through nearest stairwell to a ground level exit. Do not use elevator. Third floor stairwells are areas where disabled people may communicate with rescue workers. Be familiar with the floor plan and exits of this building.

Class Participation Policy:
Class discussion, including questions, comments, and disagreements, is welcome, but in order to contribute well to discussions, you need to read the material before hand. Since this class only meets once a week, missing one class is the same as missing a week of class. For that reason, if you should miss more than two class meetings, it will be impossible to make an "A" in the class. In cases of borderline grades, those who have contributed well to class participation may receive additional credit. 

Intelligent participation in a class like this means that, in addition to the assigned readings, you must keep up with current affairs and be prepared to discuss them in light of the principles we are studying. You may also be expected to include discussion of current affairs on your exams. You are also required to read the articles in the reserve reading section of the on-line version of this syllabus and be prepared to discuss those articles in class and on exams. NOTE: Please bring your text to each class.

Grading System:
1/4: mid-term
1/4: final exam
1/4: participation
1/4: 12 pp. research paper

Students who miss more than two classes cannot make a grade higher than a "b" (unless alternate provisions are accepted and made with professor); students who miss more than four classes cannot make a grade higher than a "C".

Your essays will be graded on the basis of… 
…substance, that is, how well you cover the important material and ideas
…clarity, that is, how well you cover those ideas
…organization, that is, how well you arrange your material
…relevance, that is, how well you can explain why these ideas are meaningful today.

Reading and Discussion Schedule:

class 
August 19
--Introduction, overview general moral & political themes
n.y. times interview with tolkien
topics: the need for a national mythology 
Tolkien's influences
Beowulf translation
tolkien correspondence:
p. 41, "To Stanley Unwin" 13 October 1938; To C.A. Furth, Allen & Unwin" 2 February 1939.


class
 
August 26
--Selections from THE HOBBIT

topics: truth and myth
Aristotle on "telos" 

class 
sept 2
labor day

class
sept 9
--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, Prologue, BOOK I, CHAPTS. 1-4 
NYTimes Review of Simarillion 
"Ring of Gyges," from Plato's Republic
Secrecy, Terror, & the CIA
topics: Power and Secrecy 
p. 105, "T Christopher Tolkien" 24 December 1944 (first paragraph)

class
sept 16
TBA

class
sept 23
--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, BOOK I, CHAPTS. 5-8
T.S. Elliott: "The Hollow Men"
 "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
Nietzsche and the "Last Man" 
topics: character, civic virtue 


class
sept 30
--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, BOOK I, CHAPTS. 9-12 
Aristotle on the Middle Class
topicS:
LOTR & Democracy
experts vs. the rest of us; the importance of the middle class to democracy
Tolkien: Conservationist or Environmentalist?
"To Peter Hastings" (draft), September 1954
"To Naomi Mitchison" 25 April 1959


class
oct 7
--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, BOOK II, CHAPTS. 1-4 
tolkien and political power
"A Memoir of MaryAnne," Flannery O'Connor 

class
oct 14
fall break

class
oct 21
--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, BOOK II, CHAPTS. 5-10 
Tolkien: Liberal or Conservative?
TAKE HOME MID-TERM AVAILABLE

class
oct 28
--THE TWO TOWERS, Book Three, chapts. 1-4 
W.B. Yeats "The Second Coming" 

CLASS
nov 4
--THE TWO TOWERS, book iii, chapts. 5-11
Tolkien (v. Nietzsche) and sub-creation 
REading from NIetzsche "Thus Spake Zarathustra"

CLASS
nov 11
--THE TWO TOWERS, book iv, chapts. 1-10 
America and Refusing power
The Just War Theory and "The Window on the West
TOLKIEN AND JUST WAR

CLASS
nov 18
--RETURN OF THE KING, BOOK V, chapts. 1-5
Aristotle on Monarchy from the Politics
The Passing of the Dead & the Concept of "Honor" 

CLASS
nov 25
--RETURN OF THE KING, BOOK V, chapts. 6-10
Plato's Philosopher-King
Aristotle, The Nichomachean Ethics "FRIENDSHIP" BOOK VIII

CLASS
dec 2
--RETURN OF THE KING, BOOK VI, CHAPTS. 1-4 
--RETURN OF THE KING, BOOK VI, CHAPTS. 5-9
Aristotle: "FRIENDSHIP" BOOK IX

Tolkien’s Political and Religious Philosophy
tolkien dead at 81

class
dec 9
Final Papers Due, class presentations
final eams


" 'twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, mm-I met a girl so fair
but Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her"
---"Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin

 \

© Hank Edmondson 2012