CCTE: Winning Lit Paper Notes

Sherry Rankin
Abilene Christian University, “An Approach Using J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to Teach Medieval Lit in the Brit Lit Survey Classroom”

special area of interest: Old English
No way this Powerpoint will live up to the amount of time it took us to get it going…

Tolkien fan since before I could read… when I first started teaching first half of Brit lit, it was of limited use. But since the Peter Jackson movies came out, lot more students have watched those and become interested in the books.

I use Tolkien a lot as I teach the Anglo-Saxon period.

AS culture can seem foreign and forbidding, popularity of Game of Thrones, WOW, Harry Potter,
Students can appreciate foreign culture.

Differences difficult to understand: esp fate and relational aspects of culture

With video games and movies, they can connect with completely foreign culture.

Tolkien was philologist and medievalist.
particularly in depiction of Rohan (Anglo-Saxon pretty much everything)
not only place in trilogy where you see AS culture
many elements of the novel are AS

all the ways I use Tolkien in the classroom, but narrowed it to use to explain technical aspects of poetry

Beowulf format usually not translated and presented as OE poet.
Context of comitatus relationship.

poetic characteristics/literary attributes
alliteration
caesura
kennings
appositives
lists
ubi sunt

Benjamin Bagby credits modal elements as memory makers
Tolkien’s work allows students to explore this organically

2nd book of LotR
ent Treebeard
turns to oral formulaic poetry to try to figure out the hobbits
after fall of Eisengard, tells the hobbits have been added
“the Hobbit children,
the laughing folk, the little people”

Ent children were made to learn by heart for educational purpose—like ABCs and “30 days have September”

Asking about things that lend to memorization students come out with alliteration and halves.

whipping folks who didn’t learn
Ents sing while beating hands upon their flanks

She had a lot more good stuff!

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