Having met the noble Gondorian captain Faramir and his men, we now get to see them in more detail, as Frodo and Sam are welcomed into their abode and treated as guests of honor. They are also treated to the beauty of the land of Ithilien, including the cave where Faramir and his company have … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Window on the West” and “The Forbidden Pool”
After recently rewatching Peter Jackson's rightfully famous and well-regarded The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, it occurred to me that Jackson's heroes are remarkably less lofty than their counterparts in Tolkien's novel. If Tolkien's heroes seem to exist in a time wherein heroes were larger than life figures that seem to defy the laws of humanity, … Continue reading Through a Glass Darkly: The Diminution of Heroism in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy
“A good teacher will lead the horse to water; an excellent teacher will make the horse thirsty first.” – Mario Cortes
Inside the academic classroom, we instructors face a number of pedagogical challenges, ranging from constant apprehension regarding proper time management, to confusion over how to best incorporate new media technologies in diverse lesson plans. If the multitudes of our profession may be encompassed by so simplistic a maxim, a good amount of the efforts toward leading our students toward the proverbial well of knowledge involves acknowledging the limits of our ability to engage, and the students’ ability to stay engaged.
Try as we might to liven up lectures on nineteenth-century textual portrayals of class and gender struggles, or lead animated discussion on symbolic content and elements of stylistic form, just to name a couple of personal examples, the passion of an instructor may not always yield a similar investment…
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As we make our way again through The Lord of the Rings, we come at last to the fateful encounter between Frodo and Sam and Faramir, Boromir's younger brother and the leading captain of Gondor. We also get a glimpse, albeit briefly, of the fragrant and peaceful glades of Ithilien. Among his many strengths as a writer, … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit.”
For a long time now, I've always preferred the first part of The Two Towers to the second. Maybe this has to do with the way in which I remain profoundly dissatisfied with Jackson's interpretation of it in the film version, or perhaps because it lacks the big action set-pieces of the other half. Whatever the reason, … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Taming of Smeagol,” “The Passage of the Marshes,” and “The Black Gate is Closed”
Every time I re-reard The Lord of the Rings, I'm struck anew by how absolutely compelling Tolkien has made his villains. In many ways, these formidable foes--Saruman, Sauron, the Witch-king--threaten to overshadow the protagonists of the novel. While we know a great deal about the heroes, their motivations, their ancestries, a great deal remains shadowy and unknown … Continue reading Why Are Tolkien’s Villains So Compelling?
Once again, my dear friend and colleague Vicky shines a light in some of the most pressing issues about teaching in the Trump Era.
In the numerous fields comprising that artistic and cultural field we call “the humanities,” we who self-identify as scholars must constantly be on the defense regarding our own choice of profession. An increasingly corporatized world sees banks encouraging ballerinas and actors to become engineers and botanists instead, and federal agencies such as the CBO actively suggesting reducing federal funding for the Arts and Humanities, since “such programs may not provide social benefits that equal or exceed their costs.”
This cacophony joins with countless other voices in our own lives: those cautioning us about the shrinking opportunities of the academic job market, who gently chastise us for dabbling in a passion instead of pursuing a career that will prove economically viable, and otherwise reminding us that the humanities are not where the dollars – or pounds or euros, among other forms of financial credit – lie. There is no Wall…
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Some excellent and necessary reading for anyone interested in empathy and teaching in this Trump Era.
A couple of weeks ago, toward the end of our class’s unit on “Thrills, Sensations, and the Ethics of Nonfiction,” I assigned my students the University of Chicago’s Welcome Letter to the Class of 2020 alongside Sara Ahmed’s thought-provoking “Against Students” (June 2015). The former, a document separately decried or praised as patronizing and oppressive or timely and appropriate, comes from a private University that prides itself as “one of the world’s leading and most influential institutions of higher learning,” and has a notorious reputation among academics for fostering an ultra-competitive – and potentially hazardous – environment for its students.
Following a word of congratulations, the letter states:
“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat…
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Every year, when I embark on my ritual re-reading of The Lord of the Rings (and occasionally The Hobbit), I also take it upon myself to read some Tolkien criticism. I usually try to read at least one new critical text on Tolkien per year, either classical or contemporary, in order to enrich and deepen my appreciation for … Continue reading The Pleasures of Reading Tolkien Criticism
Now that it's Tolkien Appreciation Month here at Queerly Different, I thought I'd begin this year's month with a post about the Sauron of the 21st Century, the President-Elect of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Now, I know what some of you are no doubt thinking. Isn't that hyperbolic? Isn't it dangerous to conflate the doings … Continue reading Reading Tolkien in the Time of Trump