There and Back Again: Middle Earth Studies



Bekah Knudsen, Staff Writer

Mr. Hancock is teaching a new elective this year at AHS entitled Middle Earth Studies.

Mr. Hancock reports, “Middle earth studies is studying the works of J.R.R Tolkien and looking at the way that he wrote and created and his thinking and themes that he put into his works.”

We are all somewhat familiar with J.R.R Tolkien’s life work, The Lord Of The Rings. Weather it comes from movies, books, friends, or popular meme culture, we all have seen the iconic characters and heard the iconic quotes somewhere in our lives.

However, for Mr. Hancock this epic tale between the forces of good and evil have much more meaning than just pop culture or even good literature. From the young age of six, Mr. Hancock has been reading The Lord of the Rings non stop. He says that he reads the trilogy at least once every year.

Mr. Hancock has been teaching students about Lord of the Rings for the past six years now and, because he is no longer teaching English at AHS, the administration has decided that a class dedicated specifically to J.R.R Tolkien’s writing would be a good fit for him. Many students who are also fans of Tolkien really enjoy his class.

Because of Mr. Hancock’s passion for the Lord of the Rings, He is perfectly fit to teach an in depth look at the theology behind Middle Earth.

His favorite character is the beloved Sam. Mr. Hancock says, “Sam is my favorite because Sam is the true hero of the Lord of the Rings and it’s Sam that we relate closest to because he’s the most like us.”

When asked the question, “do you see any similarities between Tolkien’s world and ours?” Hancock responded, “I see a lot of similarities. I see it in his understanding of faith. I see great echoes of the way that Latter Day Saints view the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Tolkien’s works. I see the way that they deal with problems which are similar to problems that are reflected in our world today. And also Tolkien felt that he was writing a discovered history of Europe. Where he was trying to rediscover a lost history. That’s what motivated him to write Middle Earth.”

Adam Johnson, a sophomore who is currently taking Middle Earth Studies, reports his opinion on this class, “I think that it’s really an incredible idea because I think there’s a lot of people at the school who enjoy Lord of the Rings, Tolkien, and his mythology. I think it’s a very interesting class because we are not only talking about Lord of the
Rings, but the entire mythology as a whole – which I think is very, very interesting. I think it’s more satisfying and more interesting looking a the full mythology rather than just looking at the book, Lord of the Rings, although that is a really good story.”

Students who are considering taking Middle Earth Studies don’t need to have already read the books but they will be expected to read them once they are enrolled in order to understand what it is that they are studying about.

When asked the question, what would you say to a friend who is undecided about taking or not taking Middle Earth Studies, Adam says, “Middle Earth Studies is a really fun class and if you’re interested in that kind of stuff I would say just go ahead and take it.”