Exploring The Lord of the Rings

Join Dr. Corey Olsen — also known as The Tolkien Professor — as he embarks on his next adventure exploring the themes, characters, development, and other aspects of one of the famousest of fantasy novels. This time around, you’ll even have the chance (if chance you call it) to get a peek behind the scenes of Dr. Olsen’s writing process.

The Whole Tale from the Beginning

Within a hand-drawn wooden frame carven with leaves and vines is a piece of parchment bearing the title Exploring the Lord of the Rings Volume I and at the bottom the name of our author, Corey Olsen. Between title and name is another beautifully drawn scene all in wood colors: on a bit of oaken table, behind a small thick mat, a round picture is posed on its edge. The picture itself has a circular frame, rubbed smooth with a bit of crasftsman-style trapezoid carving at the top and each side. The frame seems to be oak as well, but the picture within is drawn as though it is a hundred, two hundred intricate inlays of ebony, birch, pine, maple, mahogany, just a painstaking masterpiece made with love. This picture is of the road leading away, drawing us ever onward, first past lovely flowers in a meadow, then through rolling fields, past an ancient willow tree, over a bridge, past mounded hobbit holes—or are they barrows? The terrain becomes rougher in the distance, and after a pass between two light, old, rounded mountains, the ranges in the distance are black, jagged, and foreboding. The sky is dark except at the horizon, and shows a handful of scattered stars and a crescent moon that looks new. But wait! the curve of the moon is upward to the right, yet there are stars in that direction, not sun; this could only be a moment of lunar eclipse, a time of possibility and wonder.
Cover design by Sharon Hoff
featuring artwork by Emily Austin

It took 17 years after The Hobbit for Tolkien to publish The Lord of the Rings. It has taken the Tolkien Professor a decade to begin his sequel series.

Given the length of the subject, Exploring The Lord of the Rings will probably be released in six volumes, matching the six books of Tolkien’s story.

The introduction to the first volume launched during Mythmoot IX: Remaking Myth and is freely available to all who register on Signum University’s subscription platform Blackberry. When the time comes, purchasers and subscribers will receive drafts in installments until the first volume is available in full.

The Author’s Circle

Author's Circle icon with the text "Author's Circle" in black calligraphy inside a swirly circle in red, orange, and yellow.

Join our author patronage system, the Author’s Circle, to be an active part of the creative process! Corey’s Author’s Circle members will receive:

  • Access to text and audio chapters on release
  • Access to notes and updates during the writing process
  • Monthly meetings with Corey to discuss and give feedback on the most recent chapter
  • A mention in the book if you make a suggestion included in the final book
  • Acknowledgement in the final volume
  • Personalized versions of the book at final publication

Explore LOTR weekly with The Tolkien Professor

Many of the insights and ideas in this book were first discussed in Dr. Olsen’s weekly broadcast of Exploring The Lord of the Rings. Find out how to join the discussion live and where to watch or hear past episodes at the Mythgard Institute.

Exploring The Lord of the Rings podcast

About the Author

Headshot of Dr. Corey Olsen

Dr. Corey Olsen

Dr. Corey Olsen is the President of Signum University and Mythgard Institute. In addition to teaching classes on J.R.R. Tolkien, Chaucer, and modern fantasy literature for Signum, Dr. Olsen has extended the concept of the digital classroom to include non-traditional outlets. Through the Mythgard Academy, he offers free weekly lectures on works of speculative fiction chosen by Signum University supporters, and he has embraced the “new literature” of cinema and video game adaptations through interactive programs such as The Silmarillion Film Project and in-game discussions of Lord of the Rings Online.

On his teaching website, The Tolkien Professor, Dr. Olsen brings his scholarship on Tolkien to the public, seeking to engage a wide and diverse audience in serious intellectual and literary conversation. His website features a series of detailed lectures on The Hobbit and recordings of the weekly meetings of the Silmarillion Seminar, which worked its way through the Silmarillion chapter by chapter, as well as more informal Q&A sessions with listeners. His first book Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, was published by Houghton Mifflin in September 2012.

Dr. Olsen obtained his B.A. in English and Astrophysics from Williams College in 1996, going on to Columbia University where he obtained his M.A. in 1997, M.Phil in 2000, and his Ph.D. in medieval literature in 2003. Upon graduation from Columbia University, Dr. Olsen obtained teaching positions at Temple University, Columbia University, Nyack College, and Washington College. In 2011, Dr. Olsen started Signum University and the Mythgard Institute. His undergraduate and graduate teaching subjects include J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthurian literature, Chaucer, and Sir Thomas Malory.