Last week, our own Professor Matt Townend from the English Department announced a way for students and staff to bond over books online. For some students, for a final time – with Tolkien’s epic, The Lord of The Rings. Matt runs an advanced module, ‘From Tennyson to Tolkien’, and shares his love of Middle-Earth across all his modules with characteristic vigour.
I reached out to Matt, asking for his thoughts behind the reading group:
“Since we’re all scattered all over the place, and staff and students in the English Department can’t meet face-to-face, I thought that an online reading group could be an enjoyable, fruitful, and even nourishing thing to do at the present time. I’m really delighted that over 70 English students have signed up for this: some will be reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time, and some (as hobbits would say) for the eleventy-first. The plan is that we’ll read a few chapters each week, and then share our thoughts and reflections via a Yorkshare discussion board. I suspect that, even for those of us who think we know The Lord of the Rings fairly well, re-reading it in the present context may reveal all sorts of new perspectives; I’m struck, for example, by Frodo’s lament that ‘I wish it need not have happened in my time’ (to which Gandalf replies that ‘So do all who live to see such times’). So, it’s going to be a collaborative journey of (re-)discovery, and we’re not quite sure what we’re going to find. We’re beginning at the start of term and should reach Mordor later in the summer!”
The reading group is a very welcome, exciting way to keep up morale through a shared love of books and is just one example of the warm support offered by the English Department in these strange times, in it’s own kind of Fellowship.
As we are all finding ourselves with more time on our hands, picking up a book is a great way to spend it. Especially when it involves returning to childhood classic or discovering an icon for the first time. So, English students and Medievalists, if this sounds like your kind of thing, contact Matt Townend to register interest and join in with the adventure.