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Lord Of The Rings

Goal:
The goal of this assignment is for you to engage analytically with Tolkiens work and his Norse sources. You are to do so in clear and concise analytic and academic prose, showing deep and considered engagement with the material.

Directions:
5-7 double spaced pages (choose a thesis that you can adequately defend in this spaceI would rather you focus on the thesis and argument rather than how many words you write, so if you go over a page you will not be penalized.), typed, Times New Roman 12 pt font (the entire document must be in 12 pt font), page numbers, minimal header, appropriate title, consistent and correct use of citations, use of at least two scholarly or non-LotR/Hobbit sources (such as any of the Medieval Norse or Old English sources, academic articles, class secondary readings, a book, etc). Paper should consist of a personal, well-supported argument (see Thesis and Analysis Writing Tips for Students)Preview the document. Show excellent writing and reasoning skills.

Potential Topics:
These questions/topics are not, on their own, a sufficient thesis. These are meant to prompt your own curiosity. For most of these topics, you will have to do some research about whatever Norse source you include. You might even have to go into Norlin Library, aka The Paths of the Dead (Trees).

In literature, a conflict is a struggle between two opposing forces. Explain the conflict between Gollum & Bilbo or Gollum & Frodo (or another pair in the books) and explain why it is different than a Norse or Old English conflict we have read.
The setting of a scene is where it takes place. Explain how a specific setting in the books adds to or complements the story/mood/feelings of a character. Compare it to a setting/scene in our medieval sources.
Possibilities: the Barrow Downs, the Old Forest, Rivendell, the bleakness of the Great River, Lothlrien, Rohan, the Paths of the Dead, Mordor
Consider fate and inherited destinies (Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, and the family curse of Volsungs).
Consider one or two of the Gifts of Galadriel, and consider reciprocity between friends in the Hvaml and Beowulf. Why does Galadriel give that gift to whom she does, and what does she expect in return?
Consider revenge in Saga of the Volsungs and some LotR characters. Does Tolkien glorify revenge the way the Viking Age Norse did?
Remember Beowulf fighting the dragon, and our class discussion about Beowulf being an irresponsible leader. In this light, is Boromir correct to try to take the Ring from Frodo?
In what way can you personally empathize with [antagonist, such as Gollum]? How (if at all) does Tolkien write [character] to be sympathetic? Are any of the antagonists in our Norse/Old English sources written sympathetically?
Explore a relationship between Thodens hopeless charge at Helms Deep and Beowulfs fight with the dragon and/or The Battle of Maldon.
Choose a Nordic or Old English source that Tolkien directly borrows from and analyze how and why Tolkien borrows it/what he changes/etc.
Possibilities:
Hvaml stz 29 and the Riders of Rohan, conflict at Meduseld, Unferth in Beowulf.
The Wanderer and the Riders of Rohan what is the mood of the poem and why apply it to the Rohirrim?
Any example from class
You will need to do some research into the specific origin of your Norse/Old English source. I am happy to suggest articles.
Consider the idea that Loki and Gollum are beings with a dual-nature who both cause evil and allow greater good to prosper.
How are Frodo and Gollum foils to one another? How do they relate to foils in the source material such as Sigurd and Gunnar, or Beowulf and Grendel?
Most medieval heroes are solitary figures (Beowulf, Sigurd, Odin) and do not have partners or companions. Why does Frodo have Sam? Is Sam like any of the medieval heroes temporary companions (Sam/Wiglaf)?
How is Aragorn going to Minas Tirith similar to Beowulf going to Heorot?
Beowulf p 119-23: What is Hrogar saying about pride? How does it relate to Men in Middle Earth, to the Ring, to Wizards (Saruman) and Gondor/Ithilien?
Consider the relationship between kings/kingdoms condition and the land (Hrogar/Heorot, Thoden/Rohan, Denethor/Minas Tirith)
Who is more like a Norse/Old English leader: Denethor or Thoden? Do you think Tolkien wrote one to be more likable to his audience than another? Why?
Consider Sams delusions with Ring (book 6, chpt 1-3) and Hrogars warning to Beowulf. Was Tolkien inspired by Hrogars  speech, and doesSam listen better than Beowulf does?
Any topic we mentioned in class that you found interesting. It must include consideration of a Norse/Old English/Kalevala source (This is Tolkiens Nordic Sources, after all.)
Medieval Source/Tolkien/Movie comparison and analysis:
Choose one scene, or one character/facet of a character, otherwise you will not be able to fit in the page limits.  You will need to:
Identify changes from one source to another (just identify! Do not summarize the stories. Remember that I have read them, too!)
Discuss the effect of the scene/changes on the intended audience (the Viking Age Norse, Old English, 20th century readers, 21st century moviegoers)
Consider why Tolkien made the change from the medieval texts/why Jackson made the change from Tolkiens texts AND what that tells us about changes in the source/result society
You must include a medieval source, Tolkiens books, and Jacksons movies. You cannot simply compare the books and the films.
You could also consider changes and effects of different media: oral performance in the Middle Ages, individual reading for Tolkien, and cinema for Jackson.
Cautions: Material from a website is not a scholarly source. Something from a .edu site might be acceptable, and if you find an academic article on an online archive such as JSTOR or Google Scholar, that is acceptable. Norsemythologyforsmartpeople.com and Wikipedia are not scholarly sources (though many Wikipedia articles contain bibliographies and links to sources). If you need help finding scholarly sources, see me or a Research Librarian in Norlin Library.

Rubric: 100 points total
Directions: 10 points    Paper is on time, the correct length, double spaced, has title and page numbers, is in the correct .docx file form and is uploaded correctly, etc.
Writing: 25 points    Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Smooth, polished prose, use of varied vocabulary, appropriately formal language (ie no slang or contractions).
Thesis: 25 points    The thesis is clear, complete, strong and specific. The thesis asks a compelling question about Tolkiens work, argues for an answer, and adds to Tolkien scholarship. All points in the paper directly support the thesis. The author clearly states why the thesis and their conclusions are important in the grand scheme of things.
Argument: 40 points    The argument for the thesis is well crafted and well supported with numerous examples directly from the text in question, and with support from appropriate scholarly secondary sources. Sources are correctly cited in footnotes, endnotes or a bibliography. Sources are cited consistently. The author thoroughly analyzes their topic and does not stop at superficial observation and summarization. The author does not summarize more than is absolutely necessary. The author, if applicable, identifies elements in the analysis that do not support their thesis and offers explanations. Everything in the paper is clearly expressed, professionally stated, directly relates to or supports the authors thesis, and is correct (or defended with arguable proof).

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