UW Today

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January 10, 2008

‘Lord of the Rings’ creator JRR Tolkien topic of 2008 History Lecture Series

The life and work of John Ronald Reuel (JRR) Tolkien will be explored by UW History Professor Robin Chapman Stacey in the 2008 History Lecture Series, now in its 33rd year. This year’s series is titled “JRR Tolkien: A Storyteller’s Story.”


The series, sponsored by the UW Alumni Association and the College of Arts & Sciences, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays Jan. 15, 22 and 29, and Feb. 5 and 12, in 130 Kane. Series tickets are $50 for association members and $60 for nonmembers. Tickets for individual lectures are $12 for association members and $15 for nonmembers. “Patron” tickets also are available, which include all five lectures, preferred seating and a tax-deductible donation to the alumni association. Tickets can be purchased online at www.UWAlum.com.  


Each lecture will explore a different aspect of Tolkien and his writings.


Jan. 15: “He Had Been Inside Language.” Join us as we probe the connection between language and creativity and examine the nineteenth-century debates over language, folklore and myth that were the intellectual foundations for Tolkien’s greatest works.

Jan. 22: “A Mythology for England.” This lecture explores Tolkien’s creation story, The Silmarillion, for which he is not best known, but which is a powerful compendium of myth and story and his most trenchant examination of the spiritual and moral dilemmas of his era — and the necessary backdrop to The Lord of the Rings.

Jan. 29: “The War to End All Wars.” This lecture explores Tolkien’s views on heroism and war; his passionate conviction that evil must be resisted, his hatred for the futility and waste inevitably attendant in human conflict, and his immense respect for the heroism of individual sacrifice.

Feb. 5: “A Fundamentally Religious Work.” This lecture considers the religious aspects of Tolkien’s work and includes a look at his relationship with other prominent Oxford Christians, such as C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.

Feb. 12: “Allegory and Farewell.” This lecture takes up the question of how Tolkien’s work has been interpreted and received over the years, from accusations of racism and sexism to Peter Jackson’s recent film adaptations. The last word, however, is given to Tolkien himself.


Stacey, professor of history and adjunct professor in the Women Studies Department, has taught at the UW since 1988. She is a recipient of the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award and a past holder of fellowships from the Fulbright Association, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Guggenheim Foundation.


A self-proclaimed medievalist and a member of the Executive Board of the Medieval Academy of America, Stacey’s interest in Tolkien began in high school when she read The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Recognizing the importance of his works, Stacey developed a course on Tolkien highlighting his historical and intellectual perspectives for the UW Honors Program which she has since repeated, to the delight of many students.