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Tolkien's Middle-earth:

Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators

Unit One: Introducing Tolkien and His Worlds

Content Focus: The Oral Tradition
Thematic Focus: Creating Meaning Through Myth


In creating The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien drew upon traditional folk literature, including myths, tales, sagas, poems, legends, ballads, and epics. All of these forms ultimately spring from the oral tradition: stories told and retold over the centuries. In Unit One, students explore this rich heritage through readings, discussions, journal writing, and projects.

Learning Goals

By the end of Unit One, the student should be able to:

• Describe some types of oral narrative that influenced Tolkien.

• Identify several common myth and folktale motifs.

• Indicate what Tolkien meant by "Faerie."

• Suggest what is lost when an oral narrative is transcribed.

• Discuss Tolkien's concept of the "eucatastrophe."

Unit One Content

Comments for Teachers
Key Terms
Discussion Topics
Suggested Activities

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These lesson plans were written by James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow in consultation with Amy Allison, Gregory Miller, Sarah Rito, and Jason Zanitsch.

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