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Seminar in Literary Interpretation

Reading Tolkien Reading Beowulf


Beowulf deals with themes of heroism, violence, and loss while relating the story of the hero’s life and his battles against three monsters. The course will involve close readings of Beowulf, as well as an investigation of the significance of the poem to the medievalist and fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien. We will pay special attention to the notion of the monster and the monstrous in Beowulf and in Tolkien’s work. The latter part of the course will revolve around Tolkien’s own novel, The Two Towers (the second in The Lord of the Rings trilogy); although we will concentrate on only one novel, familiarity with the entire trilogy is recommended. Beowulf will be read in translation.

Classes will consist of lecture, close reading and discussion.


Class participation, Oral presentation, Research report, Short Exercise on translation, Essay, Exam

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.