The Mythgard Institute just posted a list of books in their bookstore for their Tolkien and Lewis course next semester. Seeing this, it occurred to me that I haven't followed up on my impressions of Mythgard's inaugural offering on Tolkien and the Epic.
The course has been quite excellent, to say the least. I honestly did not know what to expect, but now that we're coming up on the final three weeks, I have to say I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
It certainly has been harder than I expected to get back into academic mode. The amount and difficulty of the reading has been a little hard to keep up with given that I still work a full-time job and like to spend at least some time with my two daughters. But it has been rewarding. The readings have given me a deeper appreciation for Tolkien's works — of which I have read many for this class that I did not read previously — and the works that both inflamed and inspired him.
Taking an online course gave me some pause at first. There are advantages and disadvantages. The nice thing is flexibility: If the lecture times are inconvenient, you can download and watch (or listen to) the lectures at your leisure, and of course you can re-watch (or re-listen to) the lectures at any time. However, mandatory discussion sections cannot be skipped, and they are not recorded for later reference, and as I am incapable of multitasking, that means I either have to focus on writing notes about what other people say or eschew record-making and focus on providing my own feedback to the weekly topics.
But the thing I like most is that it has helped me rediscover a passion that I forgot I had. It has been a long time since I've read critically and really studied a piece of literature, and I did not remember how much I enjoyed that. Plus, it has put me in touch with others of a like mind, or at least similar-enough minds, whom I likely would not have met otherwise.
And so I have decided that I will be taking one of the Spring courses titled "The Making of Myth: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien." I look forward to comparing and contrasting the works of these two friends. For those who are less enthralled with Tolkien, the Mythgard Institute also is offering a second course in the spring on Harry Potter.