Exploring The Lord of the Rings

Discuss Tolkien’s epic page by page, paragraph by paragraph … line by line.

Come Explore with The Tolkien Professor!

In 2012, Dr. Corey Olsen (The Tolkien Professor) published his study of Tolkien’s first novel, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Since then, many people have asked: When are you going to explore The Lord of the Rings?

When the Mythgard Institute began to engage with the online realm of The Lord of the Rings Online, this opened up a world – virtually and literally – of new opportunities to engage with J.R.R. Tolkien’s texts in a way not possible before. That’s when Dr. Olsen got a big idea: Why not explore The Lord of the Rings while exploring The Lord of the Rings Online?

Exploring the Lord of the Rings is the execution of that idea. The simulated game-world of Middle-earth created by Standing Stone Games makes it possible to examine the texts while also exploring the landscapes, structures, and characters of Tolkien’s epic fairy-story.

Episode Breakdown

Each episode of Exploring The Lord of the Rings consists of two parts

Deep Reading and Commentary

First, we read through a portion of the text, sentence by sentence, to see what we can discover. Each week, we find new things we’ve never noticed before.

ExLOTR might the longest-running book club discussion of all time. At the current pace, we’re on track to finish the book sometime in late 2031.

Virtual Field Trip

After reading the text, we turn to exploring one of the most extensive and thoughtful adaptations of Tolkien’s world ever – the interactive world of Lord of the Rings Online.

Our field trips are an exercise in archeo-gaming – that is, systematically investigating the LOTRO world while discussing Standing Stone Games’ adaptation of Tolkien’s text and the history of Middle-earth.

Join the ExLOTR Community

New episodes broadcast weekly on (most) Tuesdays at 10:00 PM Eastern


If you have an alt, join us in-game (view the calendar to see what server we’re on)



All episodes are livestreamed on the Signum University Twitch channel



Ask Dr. Olsen questions and provide comments during the livestream



Join the conversation asynchronously in our discussion forum



All episodes are recorded and added to the Signum University YouTube channel



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