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The International Relations of Middle-earth

Learning from The Lord of the Rings

Subjects: Political Science, International Relations
Paperback : 9780472051823, 256 pages, 7 figures, 7 tables, 6 x 9, April 2012
Hardcover : 9780472071821, 256 pages, 7 figures, 7 tables, 6 x 9, April 2012
Ebook : 9780472028597, 248 pages, 7 figures, 7 tables, April 2012
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The Lord of the Rings trilogy sheds light on issues of real-world international relations

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Classroom Resources

Guides for Instructors
Dear Readers:
Thank you for choosing The International Relations of Middle-earth. To make your reading of the book easier, we have prepared a number of Powerpoint slides as well as sample exams and other supplementary materials, which we hope will be helpful for instructors to use. In lieu of one single booklet, we opted to make available a batch of documents that can be downloaded individually from the University of Michigan Press website. They are either in Powerpoint (slides) or Word (exams and other materials) format so that after downloading to your desktop or storage devices, you can still revise, update or manipulate them for academic purposes.
There are ten Powerpoint documents in total. When making these slides, we tried to relate to the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and the textbook as much as possible, often using LOTR events, figures and context to explain some important concepts and theories. At the same time, we reference historical and contemporaneous facts and scenarios whenever possible. Of the Powerpoint documents, #1 is a very brief overview of the course whereas all other documents are of substantive content. In particular, #2 and #3 aim at driving home the critical notion of nation-states in international system to start the conversation about international relations. While #2 dwells on the definition and nature of the state, #3 provides a succinct but also memorable presentation of the historical evolution of the international system. Thereafter Powerpoints #4 to #10 each corresponds to the seven chapters of the Middle Earth book. Regrettably, we have to remove all images in the slides because of copyright concerns.
Other supplementary materials (in Word format) include a sample syllabus, several handouts and exams that I have used in the past at University of Southern California. To familiarize yourself with the scenes and the flow of stories of LOTR as well as to facilitate discussions, we recommend that you watch the LOTR film series directed by Peter Jackson. Instructors may want to and assign appropriate sections of the LOTR books as required readings.
Patrick James
Dornsife Dean’s Professor of International Relations, University of Southern California

Below is the list of Powerpoint and Word documents:
Powerpoint slides (10 in total):#1, Overview#2, States and International Politics (Part I)#3, States and International Politics (Part II)#4, Chapter 1#5, Chapter 2#6, Chapter 3#7, Chapter 4#8, Chapter 5#9, Chapter 6#10, Chapter 7
Word documents (8 in total):SyllabusLevel of Analysis (Handout)Key Concepts (Handout)Midterm ExamMidterm Study GuideMidterm ExemplarsFinal ExamFinal Study Guide

Web-Only Appendices
A. Introductory Textbooks for International Relations (PDF)
B. Discussion Questions (PDF)
Visual Aids from the Book
A. Figure 1. Triangulating International Relations
B. Figure 2. Thinking about IR
C. Table 1. Approaches to International Relations from World War I Onward and Illuminative Characters from LOTR
D. Table 2. International Relations: A Rainbow of Theoretical Approaches
E. Figure 3. Levels of analysis and the causes of war
F. Figure 4. World War I, the War in Iraq, and the War of the Ring
G. Table 3. Feminist IR and Assumptions about What Exists (Ontology)
H. Table 4. Feminist IR and Assumptions about What We Know and How We Should Learn (Epistemology and Methodology)
I. Table 5. Waves of Feminist Approaches and Illustrative Characters
J. Figure 5. How perspective influences definition of "the problem"
K. Figure 6. Different lenses highlight different sides of "the problem"
L. Table 6. Quasi Relationships of Similarity (+) or Dissimilarity (-) between Approaches Based on the Race Their Associated Characters Bear in LOTR
M. Table 7. Examples of Concerns about Order and Justice by Issue Area according to Various IR Paradigms
N. Figure 7. Considering multiple dimensions of International Relations: Taking a broader view


Based on their successful undergraduate course at the University of Southern California, Abigail E. Ruane and Patrick James provide an introduction to International Relations using J. R. R. Tolkien's fantastically popular trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Because Tolkien's major themes---such as good versus evil and human agency versus determinism---are perennially relevant to International Relations, The Lord of the Rings is well suited for application to the study of politics in our own world. This innovative combination of social science and humanities approaches to illustrate key concepts engages students and stimulates critical thinking in new and exciting ways.

Abigail E. Ruane, PhD,  is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Human Rights at Hunter College of the City University of New York.
Patrick James is Dornsife Dean's Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California.