With The Hobbit hitting theatres this week, LA Weekly, part of the Village Voice family of free papers, interviewed International Relations of Middle-earth co-author Patrick James about the book’s origins and using Tolkien to teach real-world multinational conflict. In the interview, James credited Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy with creating a “pop culture touchstone,” making the situations and themes that pervade Frodo and Sam’s journey relateable and therefor even more useful in the classroom. For professors planning a lesson on World War I, for example, James noted that one of the underlying causes was a set of “crumbling empires that are horribly and incompetently run,” a situation comparable to that of Gondor and Rohan in LotR. James has also drawn comparisons between Tolkien’s epic and the contested elections in Iran, as well as the current Syrian conflict, and told LA Weekly that so far no one has “stumped” him with a real-world political crisis without a Middle-earth analogue.
Read the full interview at LA Weekly, and pick up Abigail E. Ruane and Patrick James’ International Relations of Middle-earth for new insight into The Hobbit!