Week 5: “Sellic Spell,” _Beowulf_, and “_Beowulf_: The Monsters and the Critics”


Read Tolkien’s folk-tale “Sellic Spell,” his prose translation of Beowulf, and his literary critical essay, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.”

“Sellic Spell”: Read the folk-tale and comment on at least one of the following questions:

  • In this short story, how has Tolkien imagined the “original” folk-tale version of Beowulf? What are two similarities to the longer work? Two differences?
  • What do Tolkien’s changes tell us about how the poet thought? How might this connect with the Tolkien’s own approach to creating Middle-earth?

Beowulf: Read the heroic epic / elegiac poem and comment on at least four of the following:

  • Settings?
  • Characters?
  • Point of view?
  • Plot?
  • Themes?
  • Symbolism?
  • Tone?
  • Style?

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”Identify two points of particular interest to you.

NB: ONE of your questions for class discussion should be on “Sellic Spell” and ONE should be on Beowulf. Comment on at least one other posts in reply to questions.

Week 3 _The Hobbit_, Chap. 11-19 and “Why is Bilbo Baggins Invisible? The Hidden War in _The Hobbit_”


Summarize and/or analyze your assigned chapter.

Then write two questions on your chapter:  a literary analysis question (about plot, setting, character development, theme, tone, style or symbolism) and a “why” question. Commenters will respond to these questions online and in class discussion. CLEARLY INDICATE your chapter in your post. Commenters should hit “reply” to the specific post to which they are responding; do not post a new post when you wish credit for a comment.

Chap. 11 Kristen and Heather
Chap. 12 Jaime and Eric
Chap. 13 Emily and Carmen
Chap. 14 Christopher O. and Mysti M.
Chap. 15 Carolyn and Jessica
Chap. 16 Sonja and Meredith
Chap. 17 Sierra and Tarah
Chap. 18 Nuha and Lexi
Chap. 19 Nicolas and Jason

Finally, list 2-3 key points of learning or interest from “Why is Bilbo Invisible? The Hidden War in The Hobbit.



Week 2 “On Fairy-Stories” and “The Hobbit” Chap. 1-10

  • How does Tolkien define and explain:
    • fantasy?
    • recovery, escape, consolation?
  • Why is “joy” an important part of defining “fairy-story”?
  • What does Tolkien mean when he says “The Gospels contain a fairy-story” (p. 387)?
  • How does “On Fairy-Stories” help us to understand Tolkien’s eucatastrophic rewritings … and The Hobbit?
  • The Hobbit: Post a reflection paragraph on your assigned chapter with 1-2 questions for in-class discussion.
    • Chap 1 Jessica and Eric
    • Chap 2 Christy and Brenna
    • Chap 3 Carrie and Nuha
    • Chap 4 Amanda and Anais and Heather S.
    • Chap 5 Sloan and Meredith and Anna Kate
    • Chap 6 Jeanette and Heather G.
    • Chap 7 Jaime and Alexis
    • Chap 8 Lexi and Katren
    • Chap 9 Ani and Bree
    • Chap 10 Connor and Kate

If your name is not listed, pick a chapter that has only two people assigned to it and write your reflection paragraph and question on it.