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Tolkien studies

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"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
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For the journal see Tolkien Studies

Tolkien studies is the scholarly research of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien this includes his fictional literature and languages and his philologist research.



Age of Innocence

Generally, the history of Tolkien scholarship is divided into four time periods:

  • the book reviews
  • the cult period and the fierce reactions to it
  • the acceptance as Tolkien as a literary agent
  • and lastly, the post-movie phase, featuring expanded volumes, reprints, and a wide variety of subjects.[1]

The first two periods have been summarized by Tom Shippey as the "Age of Innocence": the time before the publishing of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and The History of Middle-earth. After the publishing of at least some of those, many musings, theories and guesses were flattened by additional information.[2] The field of literary critics taking interest was still thin, and serious academic research was rare. The first conference on Tolkien's literature was held in 1966; before that, only collected works on children's literature had picked up serious attention for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.[3]

1,800 New Entries

A major turn in scholarship was the publishing of The Silmarillion, edited by Christopher Tolkien. The book included the history of things that were previously no more than a "background-word", such as Beren[4] or Gondolin.[5] Apart from many expanded entries, the second edition of J.E.A. Tyler's Tolkien Companion included some 1,800 new entries.[6] A landmark publication of this time was Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth.[1]



Fictional languages

Main article: Languages






"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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There are a number of universities and colleges that offer course work in Tolkien stuides. This is a listing of some of the courses devoted sololy to Tolkien studies. There are some institutions that offer Tolkien studies as part of another course.

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brian Rosebury, "Tolkien Scholarship: An Overview", published in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia (edited by Michael Drout), pages 653-654
  2. Tom Shippey, "Foreword" published in A Tolkien Compass (third edition) (edited by Jared Lobdell), pages vii-xi
  3. Richard C. West, "Tolkien Scholarship: First Decades: 1954-1980", published in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia (edited by Michael Drout), pages 654-656
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  6. Colin Duriez, Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings, page 47
  7. Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again
  8. English 318: J. R. R. Tolkien
  9. English 321: Tolkien & Oxford Christianity
  10. ENGL 227 – Tolkien and Medieval Literature