The Tolkien Professor


Tolkien Drawing of TaniquetilWould you be interested in listening to a PhD in medieval literature lecture on Tolkien? Most of us don’t have time (or perhaps finances) to take college classes at will, but The Tolkien Professor website makes it possible to listen to courses taught by professor Corey Olsen.

His goal of bridging the gap between the scholars cloistered in the halls of academia and the general public prompted him to make his work available to readers and Tolkien enthusiasts everywhere, which he has done by recording his lectures and making them available online for free.

Some of his classes include Faeries and Fantasy, which explores the “literature of Faerie,” an undergrad Tolkien course, which covers many of Tolkien’s major works, and The Hobbit, which delves into various aspects of the book. Olsen also has made available dialogues between himself and other Tolkien students and scholars.

In addition, his website contains informal podcasts on such topics as On Wingless Balrogs and Tom Bombadil or Comfort Food: Cookery in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The comfort food podcast intrigues me because I did a series a while back on the role of food in fantasy, and I’m interested in hearing a different perspective on the topic.

As I’ve just discovered the site myself, I haven’t had time to listen to the resources Olsen has made available, but I’m downloading several of them for future reference, and I thought some of you might be interested in doing so also.

And I’m curious–have you listened to Olsen’s lectures or podcasts? If so, are there any you would particularly recommend? If not, are you interested in doing so?

Image credit: JRR Tolkien


  • Jeff Chapman
    January 25, 2012 - 9:55 am · Reply

    I’ve been listening for over a year. There’s so much to choose from on his site that I’m sure there is something for everybody. The only problem is that you can quickly burn through all the material and then you want more. But new material comes out slowly. I guess he has other things to do besides putting out free podcasts. : ) I find his arguments in the intro lecture on why read Tolkien especially compelling

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 26, 2012 - 5:09 pm · Reply

      Thanks for chiming in, Jeff! It’s good to hear your experiences with Olsen’s material. Now I’m looking forward to delving into his lectures all the more, and you’ve given me a good tip on where to start. 🙂

  • Maria Tatham
    January 26, 2012 - 5:31 pm · Reply

    Sarah, yes, I’m interested in exploring what Dr. Olsen’s site has to offer, beginning with his discussion of ‘why read Tolkien,’ which Jeff mentioned. I’m interested in the fact that Olsen has a doctorate in Medieval literature. This probably means that he has the background to have a good deal of insight into Tolkien.

    I saved the link and want to take a closer look. Thank you!

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