WORLD experts on author JRR Tolkien are launching a unique course for fans who want to immerse themselves in Middle Earth.
The new Oxford Tolkien Spring School – the first of its kind in the world –will look at Tolkien’s life, work, mythology, influences and languages.
The three-day course at Oxford University’s English Faculty in Manor Road, where Tolkien taught for most of his career, is for anyone who wants to discover more about his books.
English Professor Stuart Lee, who is helping organise the school, said: “It is a fantastic chance for people, particularly in Oxford and beyond, to find out a bit more about Tolkien and have some teaching from experts in the field.
“After all, Tolkien did most of his work in Oxford in this very department and spent his entire career here.
“He wrote The Hobbit in Oxford and all the Lord of the Rings; it’s a special place, there is no doubt about that.
“It is the first time the university has done this, though, so it is a bit of an experiment.
“The idea is many people will have seen the films and read the books, but some will want to know a bit more about them.”
Dr Lee is currently editing a new book, A Companion to JRR Tolkien, to be published later this year.
He has roped in eight other colleagues to teach the topic.
The idea was welcomed by experts at Banbury Museum, where a Tolkien exhibition has attracted fans since it opened in November.
Children have been dressing up as dwarf Gimli from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings at the exhibition, which ends on Saturday.
It also features a hat worn by Tolkien and his handwritten letters.
Museum education officer Suzi Wild said: “Families had a great time trying on the hairy Hobbit feet and dwarf costume.
“The exhibition was very well received with lots of people visiting both for the first time and coming back.”
Trustee of the Tolkien Society Shaun Gunner, 24, said: “There will be a lot of our 1,000 members interested in the school. I might well try to go myself. There are quite a few names I recognise on that list – they are some of the leading Tolkien scholars.”
Tourism bosses in Oxford say they are hoping to cash in on the author’s popularity and fans have said they want to see a multi-million pound museum dedicated to him.
Already officials have seen an increase in demand for tours about Tolkien’s life.
The school runs from the afternoon of March 21 until lunchtime of March 23. The cost is £160 without accommodation.
For more information, see www.english.ox.ac.uk/news-events/upcoming-events/201303/oxford-tolkien-spring-school