This course considers the relationship between modern fantasy and medieval literature through the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. A professor of medieval literature at Oxford, Tolkien used his academic research to develop the mythology, language, and literature of Middle Earth. This course will survey both Tolkien's writing, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the medieval poetry that inspired it, from Old English heroic epic to Welsh folklore. Throughout, we will consider how and why the middle ages offer such compelling material for 20th and 21st century fantasy.