Friday, November 27, 2015

Readings from the Semester

What thoughts do you have about our readings for class this semester? Are there any you think we could have omitted? What did you think about Snyder's book, The Making of Middle-earth? Was it worth including to provide background info or not?

8 comments:

Nienna said...

I enjoyed the readings this semester. I loved "The Silmarillion" and wish we could have talked about it a bit more. In all honesty I wish this class was a year long so we could talk about everything more. We had to race through Lord of the Rings, which was a bit sad. The Making of Middle Earth book was interesting and the background material was helpful. The book is a little clunky and not easy to carry around. The Artist and Illustrator book was a bit difficult to read. Overall, I think I got the most out of the small works by Tolkien, such as "On Fairy Stories" and "Smith of Wooten Major". I had never heard of them and I think they gave a new insight into Tolkien's world.

Varda said...

I loved having Snyder's book to reference as background material and as a research source for my projects. I agree that the Artist and Illustrator book is incredibly dull to read, but I loved being able to look at the artwork. Perhaps it would be better to take excerpts from that particular book and make a course-pack. I do think it was useful to the class. While I think that mentioning and skimming the Prose Edda is necessary to understand Tolkien, this could have also been a small excerpt in a course-pack. We passed over the Edda so quickly that I hardly feel as though it made a significant impact on my Tolkien education. I, too, loved reading the smaller stories and essays. I will be keeping my Tolkien Reader just for the essay and for the short stories.

Ulmo said...

I enjoyed the short stories the most, and the "Artist and Illustrator" was my least favorite, simply because it took so long to get through with the lovely illustrations on each page. I did not know much about Tolkien before this class and, the short stories especially, showed the true depth of his work and his versatility in story-telling. I liked "The Making of Middle-earth" more as a reference because of the way the information was presented but it did feel like reading a history text-book at some points. I don't think that any material should be omitted, I only wish that there was more time to delve deeper into the material.

Vairë said...

Definitely worth it to get the background info. It informs a lot of Tolkien's work in a way that makes his entire legendarium fit into his life. The two are rather indelible. I do wonder if the group work might have focused more on original work by Tolkien than translation, but I have no real founding for why, only a sense that explaining Tolkien's spin on the world is better done through the lens of his own work.

Estë said...

I loved everything of Tolkien’s that we read but really struggled with the Silmarillion, I think because of the style and the amount of reading. It was well worth including, obviously, I just fell behind and had a difficult time getting through it. As for Snyder, I thought it was important to include and easy to read. It is unfortunately large and heavy but that can’t be helped. The Artist and Illustrator book was beautiful and excellent for seeing Tolkien’s fine art but I found it near impossible to read the text and ended up mostly looking at the photos. I really liked On Fairy Stories and loved that we spent so much time on it. I think rushing through the LOTR was difficult and didn’t have time to read the huge sections before each class, especially so late in the semester with lots of other work to do. I almost think it would have been more helpful to include only sections or certain books, given that we’ve all read the novel before.

Yavanna said...

I liked our reading too, but I will admit struggling through the Silmarillion and parts of Snyder's book. While interesting, it would sometimes call back to the films and that felt distracting at times while discussing Tolkien scholarship and not what one my deem 'Jackson' scholarship.

But, overall, I liked what we read. I enjoyed the perspectives that were offered in Snyder's book, and while some of Tolkien's other works are a bit difficult at times, I've grown to like them fairly enough.

Lórien said...

I think overall the readings from this semester were both interesting and beneficial. The Synder book was excellent in my oppinion, it provided most of the nessesary biographical information on Tolkien. Without it, I do not think our discussions would have been as insightful. Additionally, I agree with many of the people above that some of the most beneficial texts were the shorter lesserknown works by Tolkien. Mythopoeia, On Fairy Stories, and Leaf by Niggle were particularly useful. The only thing I would say was not so great regaring the readings, was that it was very bottom heavy. While it is important to read Tolkien's major works, the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings went by very fast. Our discussion usually centered around a small section of each of these readings. Therefore, I would suggest that either these longer readings be given more time or that only certain chapters are read. Although I enjoyed looking at the Artist and Illustrator, I would say it was less beneficial in terms of our goals of understanding Mythmaking in Tolkien's texts.

Oromë said...

I enjoyed all of the readings this semester, but I understand the difficulty of creating a reading list for this course. I would have liked to spend more time on The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarilion, but I don't know what I would have cut to find additional time. Like many have said, the Artist and Illustrator book was sometimes a little difficult to get through, but I enjoyed looking at Tolkien's artwork, and I appreciate the interdisciplinary aspect of the book. I enjoyed the Snyder book, and I thought it provided a lot of really significant background information. However, not all of the chapters were particularly useful, especially the ones of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as these chapters basically just summarized the books.