Discovering J.R.R. Tolkien: Intellect and Imagination


An influential author of both fiction and non-fiction, this course will explore the life and work of J.R.R. Tolkien from theological, philosophical, and literary perspectives, giving students a stronger grasp and appreciation of the depth and comprehensiveness of Tolkien’s creative vision.

Taught by Dr. Jason Lepojärvi.

Runs 4/11-6/17/22.

Note: due to the late date of Easter this year, the first week of Trinity Term falls in Holy Week. Classes that are scheduled to meet on Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays will not meet for the first time until the week of 4/18; professors will schedule a make-up class somewhere during the term to cover the missed class time.

Auditing: participate in readings and live class sessions, but no graded assignments and no course credit
Full course part-time: individual classes on a for-credit basis; you can later apply them toward a Certificate or Degree
Full course full-time: for-credit courses (at least four per term) toward our Certificate or M.Litt in Classical Protestantism


This Literature course is taught by Dr. Jason Lepojärvi, and will run from April 11th through June 17th 2022. The syllabus is available here.

In 2022, Amazon will release the most expensive season of TV ever produced; and, unlikely as it seems, the series spawns from the imagination of a conservative 20th-century Catholic scholar from Oxford. The series is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and the author is J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).

The latter-day success of adaptations of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, however, can obscure the depth and comprehensiveness of his creative vision. This course will explore Tolkien’s life and work, viewing him as an influential author of both fiction and non-fiction, from theological, philosophical, and literary perspectives. Through weekly lectures, guided discussions of assigned texts, two guest lectures by leading Tolkien scholars Dr. Holly Ordway and John Garth, and two Oxford-style interactive tutorials and essays, it will examine both some of his classic and  lesser-known writings (primarily “On Fairy-Stories,” The Silmarillion, and Leaf by Niggle). Themes explored include Tolkien’s theories of sub-creation, allegory, and eucatastrophe; his views on friendship, love, and marriage; and his theological intuitions on creation, suffering, and grace. 

Students will finish this course with a strong grasp of Tolkien’s thought, an appreciation for him as a principally Christian thinker, and the ability to relate different parts of his work to one another. Students will deepen their own appreciation for and ability to benefit from Tolkien’s work, and have their own imaginations sharpened in order to navigate a changing modern world, just as Tolkien did.

Dr. Jason Lepojärvi (Ph.D, University of Helsinki) is a Fellow of Thornloe University. He is also a former Research Fellow in Theology at Oxford University, a former Postdoctoral Scholar in Residence at Regent College, Vancouver, and the former president of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. He is a member of the editorial board for The Journal of Inklings Studies. His research interests extend further to the philosophy of love, sex, and gender.

Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hr./wk. via Zoom. Students will also have the option to participate in class discussion on the Davenant Common Room Discord server. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund.

This is a graduate-level course. Although a BA is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.