Welcome to TeachingTolkien.org

Created April 11, 2005. Last modified April 25, 2020.
Domain owner/operator: Professor Emeritus of English James McNelis, Ph.D., at Wilmington College, Ohio.

My faculty page, screenshotted for posterity. Contact information no longer current, obviously

My faculty webpage

My faculty webpage

My faculty webpage

February 22, 2014: Link to Michael Drout and Hilary Wynne, "T.A. Shippey's J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and a Look Back at Tolkien Criticism since 1982", on Amazon.com, placed.

July 9, 2008: Assignments posted. The Assignments page will eventually have many more items, but an outline of several useful teaching materials has now been provided.

This site is devoted to the nonprofit teaching of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien at the collegiate level. A number of sites have offered teaching materials and lesson plans for the primary and secondary levels, but the need for guides devoted to collegiate Tolkien courses seems more pressing with each passing year.[note 1] I and my colleagues at work in this field will attempt to fill some of the gap with the resources, references, and discussions we will host on this site.

While the links and resources posted here are publicly accessible, Powerpoint/Keynote presentations, assignment sheets, lecture notes, or other items may be restricted on a conditional-access basis. [note 2]


Copyright Tim Kirk.

Copyright Patrick Wynne.

Copyright Michael William Kaluta.

Copyright New Line.

Copyright New Line.
DISCUSSION (password hint: Sam's invocation)

Copyright Ted Nasmith.


Note 1: There is much to be thankful for in the fact that a PMLA Approaches to Teaching volume on Tolkien will be forthcoming before too long. At the same time, when the topic is one undergoing an explosion of scholarly activity (as has been the case in Tolkien studies since the first Jackson film in 2001), a readily updatable Web-based resource may be a useful supplement for the foreseeable future.

Note 2: Many of us in higher education view the development of for-profit instruction as anathema to the study and teaching of academic subjects, even though the for-profits may have their place in specific vocational and other career-based training, particularly for non-traditional students (in the U.S. that means over-25). Because of this, and also because U.S. copyright restrictions generally honor the American Constitution's principle of reproduction being permissible for nonprofit instructional use, my preference is to restrict access to the more "plug and play" lesson plans, slideshows, etc. to professional nonprofit educators. Employees of for-profit institutions may request the use of these materials, but it is appropriate that a suitable contractual arrangement, including fees, be arranged with those users. So, my intention is to draw this distinction between user groups. Any student or other interested party who sees teaching materials with a copyright notice used in a for-profit course should inquire as to whether the appropriate consideration has been provided to allow their legal use. To put it another way, those of us who have devoted our professional lives to the traditional service ethic of academia are disinclined to make the fruits of our considerable labors made available free of charge to others who will profit from them.

Copyright is also a factor in the teaching of modern literature, as well as critical studies, which are themselves also still under copyright. Because of the distinction between non- and for-profits, teaching materials incorporating excerpts from copyrighted materials which are likely, in a given case, to meet the fair-use standard when used in nonprofit education, may well fall afoul as a copyright violation if used in a for-profit context. This reason also must be taken into consideration when teaching materials are shared with other instructors for their use.

All of this applies in general, but the issue is all the more important in Tolkien studies in particular, since both the titanic popularity and the enormous profitability of Tolkien's works and their adaptations and merchandising have long made it necessary for the Tolkien estate to be vigilant and firm in requesting that impermissible abuses of their property rights be discontinued. The Web has made this task nearly impossible even for the estate and publishers, with their nearly limitless financial resources (by literary standards), but nonetheless they continue to reserve appropriate domain names and to press for the removal of unauthorized use of Tolkien's work from web sites worldwide. Responsible scholars and teachers respect and defer to all justified concerns about copyright infringement, and so that too is a factor in our wish to present only appropriate materials in a context which encourages their lawful and appropriate usage.

Owners and hosts of pages linked from this site are accordingly responsible for copyright and other permission issues on those pages, since as with any index/reference page, it would be impractical for me to attempt to monitor them.

Email me at mcnelis "at" aol dot com.