Studying Tolkien's work in all its various art forms - literature, new Media, and narrative is now more accessible than ever with Vanderbuilt University offering the course "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative". The course is centered around Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online, allowing students to explore the adaptation of the stories in the form of gameplay.
The course description reads as follows -
"Intended for both newcomers who are curious about video games and experienced gamers who want to reflect on their passion, this course will explore what happens to stories, paintings, and films when they become the basis of massively multiplayer online games. The Lord of the Rings trilogy—the novels, films, and video game—are our central example of how "remediation" transforms familiar stories as they move across media.
The course is designed as a university-level English literature class—a multi-genre, multimedia tour of how literature, film, and games engage in the basic human activity of storytelling. Our journey will enable us to learn something about narrative theory, introduce us to some key topics in media studies and cover some of the history and theory of video games. It will also take us to some landmarks of romance literature, the neverending story that lies behind most fantasy games: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, a bit of Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, and poems by Keats, Tennyson, Browning, and others.
Drawing on centuries of romance narrative conventions, the twenty-first century gaming industry has become a creative and economic powerhouse. It engages the talents of some of our brightest writers, artists, composers, computer engineers, game theorists, video producers, and marketing professionals, and in 2012, it generated an estimated $64 billion in revenue. Anyone interested in today's culture needs to be conversant with the ways this new medium is altering our understanding of stories. Join me as we set out on an intellectual adventure, the quest to discover the cultural heritage of online games."
"Partnering with Coursera will allow Vanderbilt to move forward with our digital learning strategy while leveraging the university's existing strengths—our unique on-campus experience; our culture that blends extraordinary teaching with world-class research; and our breadth of disciplines and collaboration—to broaden our path and chart powerful new ways to engage Vanderbilt students and learners worldwide," Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Nicholas S. Zeppos said.
"We set out to make education accessible to everyone around the world, and seeing our vision come to life has been an incredible experience," said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera. "With the addition of the exceptional, forward thinking institutions coming on board today, we're proud to offer an even more diverse experience to our students."
"At Vanderbilt, we have the luxury of teaching extraordinary students in small classes and of working in close collaboration with undergraduates, graduate students and other faculty. We will never give up that advantage—it's what makes Vanderbilt distinctive—but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look for innovative ways to use new media to enrich on-campus community," Clayton said. "Coursera gives us something more: the opportunity to reach out to a global audience and stimulate fresh thinking, share cutting-edge ideas and provide new knowledge to people who will never have the chance to come study at Vanderbilt in person."
The Lord of the Rings Online, initially released as The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, is an extremely popular free-to-play MMORPG or massively multiplayer online role-playing game for Microsoft Windows and OS X which initially released in 2007. The game is set in a fantasy universe based upon JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and takes place during its time period.GameSpy awarded the game its prestigious Editor's Choice award with 4.5 out of 5 and was well recieved worldwide.