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© 2010 Festival in the Shire Journal. All rights reserved.

This month we have a special interview with Doctor Dimitra Fimi on the online course that she is organising; such courses are an extremely exciting development for it means that a student can enrol and take a course wherever they might be in the world. The only requirement would be a connection to the internet. Is this a look into the future of Tolkien teaching? Read what Dimitra had to tell the journal and find out more!

Interview with Dimitra Fimi - UWIC Fantasy Courses

What online courses are available?

UWIC is launching two brand new, entirely online courses on J.R.R. Tolkien and on Fantasy Literature respectively. Fantasy Literature: From Victorian Fairy Tales to Modern Imaginary Worlds will explore the fascinating world of fantasy literature, from its Victorian roots to its latest examples. J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context will examine J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, from his much-loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, to his extended mythology, most commonly known from the published Silmarillion.

Will the course on Fantasy Literature also include Tolkien’s work?

Yes! The Fantasy course is a “survey course”: it will explore the development of Fantasy literature from its Victorian roots, to modern examples such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. It is not an exaggeration to claim that Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy (in which case the Victorian fantasists are the grandfathers) so there will be an entire Unit on Tolkien, and a Unit on Tolkien’s legacy and his followers. The Tolkien online course, of course, will focus on Tolkien’s mythology in much more detail and depth.

Who can enrol on these courses?

Anyone interested in Tolkien and/or Fantasy literature! You could be anywhere in the world, as long as you can manage a course in the English language. You could be at any time zone, as the course is asynchronous, designed to be flexible and allow students to follow the course material at their own pace within the 10-week time-frame. And you can be of any educational background, since there are no entry requirements for these courses. The only prerequisite is that you love fantasy and are enthusiastic about learning more about it and discussing its themes, characters and critical tradition!

So, how does an online course work?

Each online course is taught in 10 weekly online units. Students will receive a username and password to UWIC’s E-Learning Environment (Blackboard), through which the course will be taught. The documents for each unit of the courses will be uploaded on Blackboard each week. This will include the core reading material, accompanied by images when necessary, as well as links to UWIC's eBooks, and selected articles from academic journals and reference works.

In addition to the course documents, each unit will also include a set of questions for students to reflect on and answer. Students will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and comments on these questions with their fellow-students by contributing to a Discussion Board. I will also be contributing to these discussions, giving feedback and raising further points of discussion.

Are these courses assessed? Is there a final exam, or some other form of assessment students have to complete?

Both courses include a formal assessment, but that is not obligatory. The assessment consists of 3000 words of Discussion Board contributions (50% of the overall course mark) and a 3000 word written essay (the remaining 50%), which will be submitted, marked and returned electronically. However, we recognise that some students may wish to undertake these online courses entirely for pleasure. In that case students are more than welcome to contribute to the course Discussion Board (but they will not be assessed on it) and they will not have to submit the final written essay.

How much does the course cost?

The Fantasy course costs £310 and the Tolkien course costs £340. Apart from the course material, tuition from an expert, and an opportunity to participate in a lively Discussion Board, students will also get full access to UWIC’s electronic library for the duration of the course, including such resources as The Literary Encyclopedia, and an exciting array of Fantasy- and Tolkien-related electronic books.

Can University students take these courses for credit?

Yes! The Fantasy course carries 20 credits at Year 3 Undergraduate Level and the Tolkien course carries 20 credits at Masters Level. All students who complete the courses successfully (including the course assessment) will be awarded these credits.

For more information on how to transfer these credits to your University programme or degree see the course F.A.Q. here: http://www3.uwic.ac.uk/English/education/Enterprise/courses/Pages/FAQs.aspx

How and when can students enrol?

Enrolments will open on 12 July 2010. Students will be able to enrol online via a link that will appear at: http://www3.uwic.ac.uk/english/education/enterprise/courses/pages/tolkienfantasy.aspx. Students are advised to enrol as soon as possible, as there has been a huge interest in both courses and there is a limited number of students we can accept on each course.

Will these two courses be repeated in the future?

I hope so, but I can’t promise that. At the moment, the courses have been approved to run in October 2010 and that’s all I can say for sure!

For more information on both courses please visit: http://www3.uwic.ac.uk/english/education/enterprise/courses/pages/tolkienfantasy.aspx


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