What: Mythmoot II Conference

Where: Baltimore, Maryland at the Baltimore Conference Center

When: December 14-15, 2013

Who: You! And Mythgard Institute attendees and faculty, including the illustrious Dr. Corey “The Tolkien Professor” Olsen

How much: $150 (includes all conference sessions, movie, and banquet)

What in Middle Earth is Mythmoot, a Hobbit costume party?

Well, not exactly. Mythmoot is an annual conference held by the Mythgard Institute and Signum University, featuring presentations of scholarly research papers in fantasy genres, with a focus on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and related topics. The conference also features lectures by top medieval scholars, panel discussions, a special screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for Mythmoot attendees, and a banquet reported to be worthy of a Bilbo Baggins birthday party.

Wait, what is the Mythgard Institute?

Mythgard is an online university that offers challenging, engaging classes, taught by world-class teachers and leading scholars. Mythgard encourages collaboration and intense discussion, and works to foster an environment of critical thinking. To put it succinctly, the Mythgard Institute represents a new third option for students who have traditionally been stuck with two choices: attending classes in their own area, which can be expensive and geographically limiting; or taking online classes and losing out on the important interactive aspect of the college experience. Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor, believes he has discovered a fantastic new world at the crossroads of technology and academia, where distance has no bearing on learning and connection. Watch his TED talk “Down the Hobbit Hole: Finding Connection in Online Learning”), and check out the Mythgard website for information on classes, professors, and events.

So, who is this “Tolkien Professor” guy, anyway?

In addition to being the man behind the Mythgard (and the Mythmoot), Dr. Corey Olsen (known by thousands of fans as The Tolkien Professor) is a professor of Medieval Literature with an emphasis on Tolkien studies. He teaches classes in Tolkien, Chaucer, Sir Thomas Malory, and Arthurian Literature in the English Department at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland He has a BA in English and Astrophysics from Williams College in Massachusetts, and a PhD in Medieval Literature from Columbia University. At Washington College, Professor Olsen has served as the Faculty Coordinator of Academic Integrity, the Faculty Advisor for Sigma Tau Delta (the English honors society), and Master of the Revels at Washington College’s hotly contested annual Wheelbarrow Jousting Tournament.

On a more personal note, I must say that I have listened to every single one of the hundreds of hours of classes he has published in podcast form, and they have been enriching, funny, intellectually stimulating and incredibly fun. Each one is jam-packed with information, and they are basically the equivalent of getting a whole college lecture series for free. Dr. Olsen is funny, personable, interesting, and most importantly, really knows his stuff. If you can’t come to Mythmoot, at least get his book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or try one of his amazing podcasts (all available on iTunes). I’d recommend the 34-part Silmarillion series (of which we are still waiting for the final episode, Corey… Laura… Dave…). It’ll knock your knee-length knickers off. Also, check out the Middle Earth Network for more podcasts and tons of other valuable resources. Hope to see you all at Mythmoot! Namárië!

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