Brainstorming Themes and Categories

It seems that many of us agree that the website should have pages on individual long-running themes/discussion points, and it should also be possible to organise the pages by category. Let's start brainstorming some of those themes and the categories they belong to.

For example: the "try and" vs "try to" discussion which started in Session 195 could be a discussion point with its own page, and be contained within a Grammar and Linguistics category.
 

Lashley66

New Member
Narration as a category. Sub categories including: tone, shifts in narration, anachronisms, point of view, narration in The Hobbit compared/contrasted with LOTR.

Characterization:
Essentially all characters and their physical descriptions, choices and actions, development, impact on the story, etc.

Poetry could be organized by poem and then broken down into sub categories of analysis:
Rhyme, Meter, Word Choice, Syntax, Tone, narration, discussion, etc.

I am trying to hit all the subjects we discussed as I remember them. I also plan start digging through the summaries for inspiration.
To be continued. . .
 
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Poetry is definitely its own category. So...Narration, Linguistics, Poetry, Characterization....Hmmm. Something to hold the long-term running questions, like 'is the Ring sentient?'. Not sure how to neatly fit that in a category. Any ideas?
 
The Ring could probably be its own character within the Characterisation (pardon my Aussie spellings btw) category. Or even a category on its own. Ring-induced thoughts, Ring sentience, increase in the power of the Ring in proximity to Mordor (once we get to TT and RotK this will be a theme I am sure!), and probably more themes and questions as we go along.

I think it might be best not to group the "open" questions into a category of their own, because we're raising a lot of open questions, and one of the goals of this website is to be able to have open discussion on topics that may have already been "closed" in the classes.

There might also be certain themes/discussion points that don't fit neatly into any of the categories, or into multiple. It will be interesting to see how we can structure the website so that these wandering questions don't get lost.
 

Jonah

Member
I’m including “Ring Temptations” among the “Moral Themes” I’m tracking. Those could be included with or linked to other Ring topics.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
What about Magic as a category, and all the Rings of Power listed under that? It could also include telepathy, mind-reading (which I consider different things), the virtues of elven crafts (like the rope that Sam thinks comes when he calls it and helps Frodo recover from temporary blindness).

Also, do we want to include material from earlier drafts referred to in class as a category even though it comes from an external source? As a category in itself, or under the separate categories the changes fall under? Or both - for example, the earlier drafts of the Earendil poem would fit here and under poetry.
 
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@Flammifer posted this on the Thought on Organisation thread in the General Discussion subforum. I think it's wonderful!

"Here are some possibilities to start:

Speculation: Always fun, and there has been a lot of it. Conjecturing beyond much evidence as to what might have been going on.

Interpretation: Especially where there are several different Interpretations discussed. What can we deduce from the close-reading evidence. Can we deduce several different possibilities?

Discovery: Where have we discovered new things (new to us at least - maybe new to all) from close reading of the text?

Observation: Where has close-reading led to observations that perhaps most readers do not observe?

Humor: There has been a lot of it in the class and on the forums. Well worth capturing.

Perspectives: There has been a lot of discussion on the perspectives of the first-time reader, the multi-reader, the Legendarium reader, as well as the perspectives of different characters in TLOTR.

The Ring: Its powers, its sentience, its influence.

Character Arcs: of the main characters. Including characters without much arc, such as Tom Bombadil, Treebeard, Balrog.

Elves and Men - Immortality v. Mortality: How are they similarly and differently portrayed in TLOTR.

Hobbits: What does close reading tell us about them?

Orcs: ???????

Nazgul: ??????

Providence: What is it? Where does it operate in the story? How? Who deploys it? Why?

Language, Languages and Linguistics: Where does JRRT use different language 'registers' and why? Where does JRRT use words with definitions unfamiliar to modern American readers? How are the many languages in Middle-earth used in the story?

References and Influences: Where do we see possible references and influences in TLOTR?

Poetry: How do we interpret each poem, and how does each poem and all the poems affect the work of art?

Well, there are some suggestions. I'm sure that many others could be added."
 
Leadership has come up as a theme a few times, as when Merry briefly lead the party in the Old Forest, and later when Strider expressed self-doubt leading the hobbits in the wilderness.

Another, possibly as a sub-category of magic, could be prophecy and/or precognition. Whether in the form of explicitly stated prophesies, visionary dreams, cryptic poems, or mere feelings and hunches, the foretelling of future events is a common theme throughout the story.
 
Geography and locations would probably make for a large category, including descriptions, how they fit into the story, and discussion of more abstract points like how they affect the mood of the narrative, symbolism, analogies to real-world places, etc.
 

Ragnelle

Member
I would suggest using "Place" as a category which would include both geography and location, and probably also a sub-category about where characters are placed in relation to each other - like the discussions leading to the re-enactment of the Nazgûl's charge at the Ford, or the seating arrangement at the feast in Elrond's house.
 

Kate Neville

Well-Known Member
@Flammifer posted this on the Thought on Organisation thread in the General Discussion subforum. I think it's wonderful!

"Here are some possibilities to start:

Speculation: Always fun, and there has been a lot of it. Conjecturing beyond much evidence as to what might have been going on.

Interpretation: Especially where there are several different Interpretations discussed. What can we deduce from the close-reading evidence. Can we deduce several different possibilities?

Discovery: Where have we discovered new things (new to us at least - maybe new to all) from close reading of the text?

Observation: Where has close-reading led to observations that perhaps most readers do not observe?

Humor: There has been a lot of it in the class and on the forums. Well worth capturing.

Perspectives: There has been a lot of discussion on the perspectives of the first-time reader, the multi-reader, the Legendarium reader, as well as the perspectives of different characters in TLOTR.

The Ring: Its powers, its sentience, its influence.

Character Arcs: of the main characters. Including characters without much arc, such as Tom Bombadil, Treebeard, Balrog.

Elves and Men - Immortality v. Mortality: How are they similarly and differently portrayed in TLOTR.

Hobbits: What does close reading tell us about them?

Orcs: ???????

Nazgul: ??????

Providence: What is it? Where does it operate in the story? How? Who deploys it? Why?

Language, Languages and Linguistics: Where does JRRT use different language 'registers' and why? Where does JRRT use words with definitions unfamiliar to modern American readers? How are the many languages in Middle-earth used in the story?

References and Influences: Where do we see possible references and influences in TLOTR?

Poetry: How do we interpret each poem, and how does each poem and all the poems affect the work of art?

Well, there are some suggestions. I'm sure that many others could be added."
I don't know whether this is a sub-category of Speculation or a separate category, but I am a huge fan of 'head canon' - those stories we've told ourselves to fill in the gaps. What were each of the Fellowship doing between the Council and the departure? Did Gimli and Legolas constantly bump into each other in the hallways and go through that awkward 'which side of the hall are you going to walk on' dance? I belong to the generation that spent years with the Appendices before The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc. etc. -- we tend to have lots of head canon.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Yes, Kate - that and what Gandalf was doing during those years he was away from the Shire, between chapters 1 and 2. It was a big part of class discussions, and I have strong feelings about that as well, and wasn't it you who worked out the timeline?
 
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