Of Exams and Hobbits — ‘Tis the season for professors to spend countless hours grading their students’ final exams. The process of grading exams can be a bit on the tedious side, but every now and then something unusual happens to break up the tedium. Such was the case when J.R.R. Tolkien was grading examinations at Oxford University in the late 1920s. Recalling this moment, Tolkien wrote, “One of the candidates had mercifully left one of the pages with no writing on it (which is the best thing that can possibly happen to an examiner) and I wrote on it: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ Names always generate a story in my mind. Eventually I thought I better find out what hobbits were like. But that’s only the beginning.” From this one sentence, written impulsively on a student’s examination, sprang not only The Hobbit but ultimately The Lord of the Rings. The moral to this story is that we should always be receptive to flashes of inspiration, even when we feel like we are at the bottom of a hole in the ground with a pile of finals stacked on top of us.
Kudos— As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Balaka Basu recently published an article titled “…And They Lived Happily Ever After: The Enduring Appeal of Fairy Tales” in RISE: A Children’s Literacy Journal.
Paula Connolly recently published a chapter titled “The Metafictive Playgrounds of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: The Movie Is a Book” in Walt Disney, from Reader to Storyteller: Essays on the Literary Inspirations.
Andrew Hartley’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, which he co-authored with David Hewson, was named the Audiobook of the Year by Audible.com. The audio version is narrated by Richard Armitage.
Jen Munroe recently published an article titled “Mary Somerset and Colonial Botany: Reading Between the Ecofeminist Lines” in Early Modern Studies Journal.
Heather Vorhies recently had an article titled “Building Professional Scholars: The Writing Center at the Graduate Level” accepted for publication in WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here are some dates to keep in mind:
December 13 — The Commencement ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will take place in Barnhardt Student Activity Center (SAC) on Saturday, December 13, at 3:00 p.m.
December 15 — Grades are due by noon.
December 18 — The Dean’s Office in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences will hold its Celebration of Faculty Achievement reception on Thursday, December 18 at noon in the Harris Alumni Center in Johnson Glen. This annual event recognizes faculty who received external funding in the prior fiscal year and who published books since last December. Refreshments will be served.
Quirky Quiz Question — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit introduced the world to a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo’s mother was an exceptional hobbit who, in her younger days, liked to go on adventures. Does anybody know the name of Bilbo’s remarkable mother?
Last week’s answer: tomatoes