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The International Relations of Middle-earth

Learning from The Lord of the Rings
Abigail E. Ruane and Patrick James

The Lord of the Rings trilogy sheds light on issues of real-world international relations


Description

Based on their successful undergraduate course at the University of Southern California, Abigail E. Ruane and Patrick James provide an introduction to International Relations using J. R. R. Tolkien's fantastically popular trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Because Tolkien's major themes—such as good versus evil and human agency versus determinism—are perennially relevant to International Relations, The Lord of the Rings is well suited for application to the study of politics in our own world. This innovative combination of social science and humanities approaches to illustrate key concepts engages students and stimulates critical thinking in new and exciting ways.

"What a nice way to initiate students into international relations theory! Young people often know imagined worlds with multiple polities better than they know their own history. Middle-earth offers a hefty dose of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Russian lore into the bargain. Here in Rohan, we are immensely pleased."
—Iver B. Neumann, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, coeditor of Harry Potter and International Relations

"The great 'trick' of this book is that it is more than a catchy hook and a way to explain IR theory that would be accessible to students. It also adds something to the theoretical interpretation of IR. The authors aren't just using LOTR to tell us about IR as it exists—they use it to critique its boundaries and then to suggest to students an accessible but theoretically more sophisticated way to look at IR theory."
—Laura Sjoberg, University of Florida

"This book is a welcome addition to the growing list of texts that make great works of fantasy and science fiction available to IR scholars. Ruane and James do a nice job bringing out the complexity of Tolkien's masterwork, showing both how one might use Tolkien to illustrate IR concepts, and how one might go about extracting Tolkien's own theories about politics from the story. You will want this book as your companion on any quest to draw insights about our world from Tolkien's tale of the end of Middle-earth's Third Age."
—Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, American University

Cover image: © redcrayola/Veer

Abigail E. Ruane, PhD,  is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Human Rights at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Patrick James is Dornsife Dean's Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California.

Praise / Awards

  • "What a nice way to initiate students into international relations theory! Young people often know imagined worlds with multiple polities better than they know their own history. Middle-earth offers a hefty dose of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Russian lore into the bargain."
    —Iver B. Neumann, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

  • "The great 'trick' of this book is that it is more than a catchy hook and a way to explain IR theory that would be accessible to students. It also adds something to the theoretical interpretation of IR. The authors aren’t just using LOTR to tell us about IR as it exists—they use it to critique its boundaries and then to suggest to students an accessible but theoretically more sophisticated way to look at IR theory."
    —Laura Sjoberg, University of Florida

Look Inside

Classroom Resources

Web-Only Appendices

A. Introductory Textbooks for International Relations (PDF)
B. Discussion Questions (PDF)
 

 Visual Aids from the Book

A. Figure 1. Triangulating International Relations
B. Figure 2. Thinking about IR
C. Table 1. Approaches to International Relations from World War I Onward and Illuminative Characters from LOTR
D. Table 2. International Relations: A Rainbow of Theoretical Approaches
E. Figure 3. Levels of analysis and the causes of war
F. Figure 4. World War I, the War in Iraq, and the War of the Ring
G. Table 3. Feminist IR and Assumptions about What Exists (Ontology)
H. Table 4. Feminist IR and Assumptions about What We Know and How We Should Learn (Epistemology and Methodology)
I. Table 5. Waves of Feminist Approaches and Illustrative Characters
J. Figure 5. How perspective influences definition of "the problem"
K. Figure 6. Different lenses highlight different sides of "the problem"
L. Table 6. Quasi Relationships of Similarity (+) or Dissimilarity (-) between Approaches Based on the Race Their Associated Characters Bear in LOTR
M. Table 7. Examples of Concerns about Order and Justice by Issue Area according to Various IR Paradigms
N. Figure 7. Considering multiple dimensions of International Relations: Taking a broader view

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 256pp.
  • 7 figures, 7 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07182-1

Add Hardcover of 'The International Relations of Middle-earth' to Cart
  • $65.00 U.S.
  • $65.00 CAN

  • Paper
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05182-3

Add Paper of 'The International Relations of Middle-earth' to Cart
  • $19.95 U.S.
  • $19.95 CAN


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Keywords

  • Lord of the Rings, International Relations

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