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Home News-Telegram News In Local College News A&M-Commerce’s Tolkien Institute brings international experts

A&M-Commerce’s Tolkien Institute brings international experts

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COMMERCE — The National Endowment for Humanities Summer Institute For School Teachers featuring several nationally and internationally known speakers is taking place this month and in August at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Directed by literature and languages faculty member Dr. Robin Reid and history faculty member Dr. Judy Ford, the institute takes a look at the work of British author J.R.R. Tolkien, whose books have been produced into popular movies.

The institute is an interdisciplinary project being attended by teachers in grades 6-12 in English, reading, history and social studies.

The teachers are from Texas, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, California, Florida and Missouri and 15 visiting university scholars from the United States and the United Kingdom.

The institute is funded by a $175,000 National Endowment for the Humanities.

"These grants are competitive and by winning one, we've put the university in company with such universities as Texas A&M University, Massachusetts Dartmouth; DePaul University; and University of California, Santa Cruz," Reid said. "The NEH grants are designed to bring school teachers together with university scholars, who are experts in the field.”

For the week of July 27-31, the institute will focus on "How 'The Lord of the Rings' Shaped the Modern Ideas of the Middle Ages.” Dr. Ralph Wood, an alumnus of A&M-Commerce and a Ph.D. graduate of the University of Chicago whose academic specialization is religion in literature, will speak this week. He is the author of "The Gospel According to the Lord of the Rings" and has taught Tolkien studies on the college level since 1973.

For the July 13-Aug. 13 institute, there will be a total of 14 speakers. Among the experts are Dr. C.W. Sullivan III, who is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Oregon; Dr. Edward James, who graduated from Oxford and is a historian of early medieval Europe and served as the editor of one of the major scholarly journals on science fiction/fantasy; Dr. Amy Sturgis, who received a doctorate from Vanderbilt; Dr. Charles W. Nelson, who has taught on Tolkien for 35 years; and Dr. Faye Ringel, Ph.D. graduate of Brown University, who focuses on medieval epics and modern medievalism and has published both periodical and book articles on Tolkien's work.

Ford and Reid co-directed a Summer Institute on Tolkien in 2004 with funding from the National Institute of the Humanities. They have collaborated on university-sponsored Tolkien events, such as lectures to student groups as well as public lectures off-campus, and have team-taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on Tolkien.

Reid, whose area of scholarly interest is speculative fiction, often presents papers on Tolkien at academic conferences.

Ford is a medieval historian whose area of specialization is popular religion in medieval England. She teaches not only courses in medieval history, but also introductory courses on the scope and methods of history.

— Information from A&M-Commerce News Service

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