The Shaping of Middle-earth

The Shaping of Middle-earth

Starting in January 2016, Mythgard Academy will take a look at the fourth volume of the History of Middle-earth (HoME) series, titled The Shaping of Middle-earth, with a free, eight-week seminar.

Last year, the Academy explored two volumes in the HoME series – The Book of Lost Tales, Part II and The Lays of Beleriand – and with the guidance of the Council of the Wise and votes cast by Signum University supporters who have donated $25 or more, the clear desire is to continue with our in-depth study of the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth.

Originally published in 1986, The Shaping of Middle-earth offers the first recognizable versions of stories that eventually became part of The Silmarillion. As Christopher Tolkien explains in the preface, these drafts were written by Tolkien in the 1930s and represent the point to which Tolkien had developed his legendarium at the time The Hobbit was published in 1937. Among other things, it contains an early outline of “The Silmarillion,” along with the Quenta, Ambarkanta, and a number of Tolkien’s signature hand-drawn maps that illustrated-cartography lovers will enjoy.

As part of the Mythgard Academy series, this seminar is tuition-free and open to the public. The first 100 participants for each session are able to participate in the discussion live, and both video and audio recordings of each discussion will be available on this web page and on our iTunes U course.

Like all Mythgard Academy activities, this seminar is made possible by the generosity of everyone who supported our fundraising campaign last fall from Hobbit Day to Halloween. The topics of our Academy discussions are nominated and elected entirely by our generous donors. Last year, in addition to continuing our ambulatory survey of The History of Middle-earth, we explored the land of Florin in The Princess Bride and delved into the mysteries and ministrations of English magic in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

If you missed our fundraising campaign but would still like to take part in our voting process to decide our future topics for the rest of the year, it isn’t too late! Visit our donation page and help support our free discussions!
– Dr. Corey Olsen

The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 4: The Shaping of Middle-earth

Recommended edition of The Shaping of Middle-earth

Participation Welcome!

To help participants support each other, Mythgard provides the following interaction opportunities:

  • A live chatroom is available at the bottom right of this page where you can converse with other session attendees in real time.
    • There is a little icon on the bottom left pane of the chat widget to open the chat in a separate window, which you should find useful.
  • Also, we have public forums where you can discuss topics related to this seminar or any of our other Mythgard Academy activities, such as the Silmarillion Film Project. (Registration required.)

Also, please “like” the Mythgard Academy Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to get updates and reminders about each session. If you live-tweet the discussions, please use the hashtag #MythAcademy.

The History of Middle-earth, Volume 4 is available from Amazon. It can be purchased in paperback and electronic formats.



Week 1

Read: Chapter I-II
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 2

Read: Chapter III, Parts 1-7
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 3

Read: Chapter III, Parts 8-14
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 4

Read: Chapter III, Parts 15-19
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 5

Read: Chapter IV-V
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 6

Read: Chapter VI
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 7

Read: Chapter VII
Review: Lecture Notes

Week 8

Bonus Q&A Session
Review: Lecture Notes

Choose Future Seminar Topics

Do you want to support the work that the Mythgard Institute does for fantasy and other imaginative literature? Would you like to help choose the books we discuss in future seminars? Donate today!