A unique English class is bridging the gap between the two realms to give the fictitious tales a sense of tangibility.
Megan Abrahamson, an English teacher of a one-of-a-kind Tolkien class, said this is the first, and most likely the only, non-honors Tolkien class to be offered at UNM.
While there have been a few classes dedicated to studying Tolkien, they have all been available to honors students only, she said.
The class can satisfy a core credit for many English and medieval studies majors, she said. However, the class has more than just that. There are many people in several different fields, not just English, attending the class.
“(It’s nice) to see a wide variety of interdisciplinary degrees in the class; I think that always brings a lot to the classroom,” Abrahamson said.
Medievalism is defined as anything after the Middle Ages that refers back to the Middle Ages, she said. Most of the class will be spent studying various works by Tolkien and how those reflect back to the medieval times.
“One of the best ways to study the Middle Ages is by connecting it to something that is more modern, like the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘The Hobbit,’” Abrahamson said. “I think that bridge is what is really interesting to study.”
Most students can relate or have heard of Tolkien, she said. In this class there are only two students who had not previously heard of his work.
The class is different in that it connects modern works and historic works both fiction and non-fiction, she said.
“The things that mattered 1,000 years ago still matter today,” Abrahamson said.
Ebi Majedi, a sophomore in exercise science, said already in the first week Abrahamson has cleared up the difference between the fiction and romanticized literature and the reality of living during those times.
“I think a lot of people, myself included, have a diluted image of what was actually like,” Majedi said. “I think of dragons and castles and beautiful women and to see what it is really about, it is really intriguing.”
Majedi said he reads a lot of books and wanted to engage with others who have also read Tolkien’s work. It is nice to discuss it at the collegiate level, he said.
Alannah Rivas, a second-year student who has not declared a major, said she was devastated when she heard the class almost didn’t make the cut.
“I grew up reading Tolkien and I would like to look at him with the Medievalism perspective, and see why he wrote things,” Rivas said.
Rivas said it was great to study more than just Tolkien’s famous works, like “Lord of the Rings,” and analyze some of his lesser known works.
Rivas said she doubts many people know what the medieval times were like, so the class helps connect the tales to the reality to help the reader better understand what the era was actually like.
“It has been romanticized so much,” she said.
Danielle Jones, a sophomore in English, said although she agrees that most of the era is romanticized, she still finds herself inspired by Tolkien to write her own book.
“I need to understand a wide variety of works and that means learning more about Tolkien,” Jones said.
Jones said she wants to learn more about the typical archetypes that come with literature within that period.
“It is impossible to get a clear idea of what medieval times was like, so what I enjoy about the study of this class is getting to know it in an artistic way,” she said.