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Classics and General Humanities

Visiting Middle Earth

Professor takes students and alumni on private tour of Morgan Library and Museum Tolkien exhibit

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The Middle-earth world created by J.R.R. Tolkien has captivated generations of readers. In The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion, the Oxford don created a wholly imagined fantasy world populated by hobbits, elves, dwarves, dragons and wizards.

Montclair State University Classics and Humanities Professor Glen Robert Gill recently led a group of 25 alumni and current students on a private, after-hours tour of “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth,” a once-in-a-generation exhibition celebrating the author and his Middle-earth world at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

“One of the great virtues of studying and working at Montclair State is its proximity to New York City,” says Gill, who teaches a popular course on Tolkien. “For me, the exhibition was the fulfillment of a childhood dream and longstanding scholarly aspiration. I’m going to incorporate even more of this material in my Tolkien course next spring.”

Like all worlds, Tolkien’s Middle-earth has its own geography, languages, religion and culture. The exhibit features drawings, letters, maps, manuscript drafts, designs and other material Tolkien created while bringing his popular literary classics to life.

According to Gill, a disbursement from the Institute for the Humanities in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences made the exclusive tour possible.

“As readers and scholars of Tolkien and fans of fantasy literature, for us to see the documentary of his creative imagination and his process of building Middle-earth, was inspiring and moving,” he says. “To see his hand-drawn maps and watercolor paintings of Middle-earth and to witness him simultaneously entering and creating his fictional world was simply unforgettable.”

The exhibition, which was organized by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford will be at the Morgan through May 10, when it will go on to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.

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