No Tolkien in the Fall

For reasons I do not yet understand, it appears that I’ll not be teaching Tolkien in the fall. I’m teaching it this spring as an Honors course, and it’s the largest such course in recent memory (most Honors sections are apparently in the low-teens; mine has 22). I have been lobbying to teach it as a regular section, thus opening it up to very large potential enrollments.

Given the small size of the Honors Program here at The Citadel, I’m guessing the course would translate to, say, 50-60 cadets if I taught it as a regular elective. Maybe more. (Believe me, all this has nothing to do with the professor; it’s “Tolkien” that brings ’em in. It does wherever I teach it.)

Here’s hoping I’ll get to teach it here sometime!


  1. Could you set up a petition signed by interested students who would want to take the class? Or better yet if any of your students who want to take the class read this site maybe they will get the brilliant idea to start a petition for the class to be taught! It is always more impressive to the higher ups when students take the initiative.

    Surely if your “Board of Visitors”, which from the little written about them on the Citadel web page sounds like it is the equivalent to a Board of Regents, saw the interest from students they would encourage that the class be added to the curriculum.

    Sadly the school’s mission statement is so vague you can’t say, with out argument, how such a class would fall into it or the Strategic Initiative (falling into either category would basically guilt the school into doing it). Students could possibly pose that a Tolkien class would fall into the diversity section of the mission statement, as it is a unique and different class, and yes I know I’m hitting gray area with this one but if argued right it would work and fall into the mission statement of the school.

  2. Some good ideas there, Kate. The word on the street is “next spring — maybe.” Not terribly reassuring, of course, since I’ve heard it before. The problem, it seems, is that adjunct teaching budgets are being slashed, which means I cannot be spared from teaching more core (101, 102, etc.) slots. At least that’s the story.

    Love it or hate it, teaching is a business.

  3. Sadly everything, even doing volunteer work, is a business.

    There is one route which I don’t know if your school would even let you do or if you would want to do, but I have seen it done at Tech at a lot. Teach all of your core classes that they assign you but teach the Tolkien class on a volunteer type level. Yes it is more work for you, a lot more work. I don’t know how your hours are with teaching all the core classes, so realistically it might not even work. One thing it will prove to your superiors is that you love to teach, which may score you some brownie points with your school board. There is always the problem that if you volunteer to teach one class they have you volunteer to do more. It’s an idea that has many pros and cons. The biggest question would be how much is your time worth to spread the joy of Tolkien to eager pupils.

    One thing I think is nice about Tech compared to other schools is we have a “community college” division, which actually is all of our art, physical recreation, and various other non-degree required classes. If a teacher wants to teach a particular class but for some reason is denied they can teach it through the community college (start up classes only require a minimum of 10 students enrolled). Basically our community college teachers get paid by the students so a professor can actually make a little extra money doing that, and the bonus is the teacher picks the course time, the down side is that most classes become “non-graded credit hours”.

  4. I ain’t volunteerin’ for nothin’, Kate. 🙂

    More likely I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the Spring. That’ll give another semester of salivation to the students — perhaps I can get 100 in the class!

  5. Be thankful you get a choice! I get volunteered for everything!

    I hope for the educational sake of the students the school will see the light and make the class happen!

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