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Since 2018, the Tolkien Experience Project has been collecting stories from Tolkien scholars and fans around the world. Now, we have partnered with The Prancing Pony Podcast and Dr. Sara Brown to create the Tolkien Experience Podcast — an attempt to bring the fan and scholarly communities together around our shared passion: the works of J.R.R. Tolkien! Each episode, Luke and Sara ask a notable scholar or member of the fan community to share their responses to the original Tolkien Experience ...
 
As they explore the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, hosts Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese welcome readers of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works in the Middle-earth legendarium to tune in as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon. Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien's books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the ...
 
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Frodo and Sam follow their travel guide Gollum through the Dead Marshes — it’s not the tour package we would have chosen, but who are we to judge? — and are far more shaken up than Gollum is by the fact that the marshes actually have, y’know, dead in them. But never mind the terrifying things below, because there’s a new terrifying thing above maki…
 
In this twenty fourth episode of Learned Hands, the Official Podcast of the Westerosi Bar Association, Maester Merry, Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire ask: How do the battles in the Dance of the Dragons establish law or precedent? Our analysis this week includes: The glorious return of burrito metaphors Your Hands dive back in on the Battle of the G…
 
Sméagol proves to be willing and able to show Frodo and Sam the way to Mordor, now that his promise on the Precious keeps him from running away (though Sting is still at hand to police him if necessary). But Gollum proves he’ll always be king of pain when he totally overreacts to the elf-smell coming off the lembas his companions are eating. Once h…
 
Alan and Shawn welcome John Howe to the Prancing Pony Podcast! Over the past several decades John has established himself as one of the most enduringly popular Middle-earth artists, and his work has appeared in numerous books and calendars (including the Tolkien Calendar 2021), and earned him a role as a conceptual artist for Peter Jackson’s The Ho…
 
In this special episode of the Tolkien Experience Podcast, Luke, Sarah, and Sara wrap up the second season! They thank the listeners, reflect on some of their favorite interviews and the changes to the podcast over the year, and share how their own Tolkien Experience has shifted this year! We hope you enjoy it. Remember, there will be more TEP comi…
 
Gollum is disinclined to acquiesce to Frodo’s request to lead them to Mordor, and he tries to escape when he thinks the hobbits aren’t looking. Sam has thirty ells’ worth of good reasons for Gollum to stay put, but the Elvish rope burns his skin (as of publication, Lothlórien Ropeworks has not issued a recall, and neither Haldir nor “One of Those F…
 
Three episodes into the chapter, we finally meet Sméagol… and the other fellow sharing his brain. Sam jumps the creeping, crawling creature at the bottom of the cliff, which goes about as well for Master Gamgee as one might expect. Fortunately, Frodo’s got his back, and the sight of Sting convinces Gollum that if he loves some precious, he should s…
 
The shrieking cry of what might sound like a Ringwraith if they weren’t destroyed forever at the Ford of Bruinen (They were, right? Right!?) makes Frodo lose his grip and his sight while climbing down a cliff. He manages to land on his feet on a ledge not far below, but he can’t get back up or down without a rope, which Sam just so happens to have,…
 
We finally begin our readthrough of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings with “The Taming of Sméagol”! All alone after fleeing Parth Galen, Frodo and Sam are lost among the barren slopes of the Emyn Muil, seeking a way down to the stinking bog below (zero stars for this hiking tour). But how alone are they, really? Are the two eyes following them attac…
 
For this episode, I had the chance to catch up with the creator of the YouTube Channel The Nerd of the Rings! Matt started his channel to talk about his passion for Tolkien and it has really taken off over the past two years! I was able to have a great conversation with him about what some of his favorite topics have been, and how he was first intr…
 
In this twenty-third episode of Learned Hands, the Official Podcast of the Westerosi Bar Association, Maester Merry, Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire, and special guest Akash J. Saran, J.D., ask: Does any leader at the Wall have 'good' immigration policies? How do they compare to those in the real world? Our analysis this week includes: We describe …
 
One does not simply walk into Mordor without a recap, so before we start our readthrough of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings, we’re reviewing previous chapters to reacquaint ourselves with a couple of characters we haven’t seen for a while (no one special; just Frodo and Sam, the guys whose mission really matters here). After a look back at the sto…
 
It’s our first live Q&A episode of the season, which means Alan and Shawn have got our speculating caps on for another round of questions from our guests! We field questions on the married life of the Valar (but not in the way you’re thinking), the size of Hobbit feet, and an almost forgotten fight between Galadriel and Dol Guldur. Plus, opinions o…
 
For this episode, Sara sat down to talk with translator and scholar Aurélie Brémont! Aurélie completed her PhD in English Medieval Studies on Tolkien and the Celtic Heritage in 2009 in Sorbonne Université, Paris. Since then, she has been present in conferences in the UK and in France. In 2016 she had the opportunity to translate Tom Shippey's J.R.R…
 
For the second time in history, Alan and Shawn throw a party of special magnificence to celebrate a milestone: 222 episodes of the PPP! Once again, we look back at some of our best moments from the past eleventy-one episodes, as chosen by our listeners. From foolish digressions to inappropriate pop culture references, smart observations to great re…
 
We start our sixth season in style by welcoming Carl F. Hostetter to the podcast! In addition to his role as chief editor of Vinyar Tengwar, Carl has authored articles on Tolkien’s languages for decades. We catch up with him about his lifetime of scholarship and his highly anticipated new edition of unpublished manuscripts by Tolkien himself: The N…
 
For this episode, Sarah talked with a researcher who looks at Tolkien's works through a lens of trauma studies: Elizabeth King! Elizabeth is a PhD student and Graduate Research assistant at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. Her information page on the university site says that she is currently working "on pro…
 
For this episode, I had the opportunity to speak with my good friend and brilliant Tolkien scholar: Mariana Rios Maldonado! Mariana is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow where she is interested in ethics, feminist theory, and encountering the Other in Tolkien's works. She received a grant from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (Natio…
 
In this twenty second episode of Learned Hands, the Official Podcast of the Westerosi Bar Association, Maester Merry, Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire ask: What is the legal resolution of the Hornwood Inheritance Crisis Our analysis this week includes: Poor Donella Hornwood gets the respect she deserves. Your Hands lay out detail on the family trees…
 
This week's episode is with a scholar whose interest is art history makes for some fascinating insights about illustrations of Tolkien's works: Joel Merriner. Joel is an Associate Lecturer in Art History at the University of Plymouth. He is finishing his PhD which examines the illustrations of Tolkien's work in central and eastern Europe. He presen…
 
Maester Merry, Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire and Dr. Shiloh Carroll ask: What are the Westerosi rules of chivalry and how do they relate to other chivalric codes, real and fictional? Our analysis this week includes: Dr. Shiloh, who is a real life medievalist expert, learns us all about what chivalry really was and how modern audiences have interp…
 
While Gandalf and Aragorn ponder the evening’s events and finally identify the object of Pippin’s affections as the palantír of Orthanc, a Nazgûl flies overhead — which means it’s time for Gandalf and the sticky-fingered Took to exit, stage east. And as Shadowfax carries them over the plains at breakneck speed (not that any necks will be broken, we…
 
With the Saruman situation handled, Gandalf settles in for a leisurely journey back to Helm’s Deep with Merry dangling behind him. Pippin, however, is obsessing over the shiny, round and apparently indestructible object Wormtongue threw out the window… and when nightfall comes, his Fool-of-a-Tookishness gets the better of him. We begin to investiga…
 
Unable to persuade Théoden, Saruman now tries to sway Gandalf, not realizing his former underling has gotten a promotion and executive sponsorship for his project since the last time they touched base. As before, Saruman totters between slick sweet-talking and explosive rage until finally Gandalf — amused/not amused — strips him of his staff and pl…
 
In this twentieth episode of Learned Hands, the Official Podcast of the Westerosi Bar Association, Maester Merry & Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire and a cast of several ask: Is GRRM successful in asking meaningful questions about his character’s ‘tax policies’? Our analysis this week includes: Learned Hands invites wonderful and thought provoking a…
 
Fully fed, fully caught up, and fully reeking of pipe-weed, our heroes enter Isengard, where Gandalf demands to speak with Saruman at the foot of Orthanc. The Until-recently-white Wizard refuses to come down or let visitors in, but the White-now-and-check-out-my-new-skills Wizard manages to get his attention, and the parley begins. But although Sar…
 
For this episode, I had the chance to talk to one of the nicest people in Tolkien scholarship: Erik Mueller-Harder! Erik's scholarly focus is on cartography and map-making. This interest has led him to closely investigate the first maps that Tolkien ever created for The Lord of the Rings, and his conference presentations on the subject are mesmeriz…
 
It’s time for another live Q&A episode, this time with more questions than ever before heard on a single episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast! Join Alan and Shawn as we field questions on Entish names, thralldom in Valinor, the unbearable vagueness of Gandalf, and the powers of the Elven Rings. A conversation about the importance of refuge in Middl…
 
The epic flashback continues as Pippin and Merry continue their story with a play-by-play account of the destruction of Isengard, expertly managed by their new partners at Fangorn, Bregalad and Associates. We catch up on Wormtongue’s whereabouts since being forcibly relocated, and see why Treebeard’s not giving up his day job to be a swim instructo…
 
For this episode, Sara sat down with our good friend and 'Tolkienian Astronomer': Dr. Kristine Larsen! Kristine is a professor of astronomy at Central Connecticut State University. Her research and teaching focus in the sometimes uncomfortable points of intersection between science and society, including: women in science,; misconceptions, conspira…
 
The reunited members of the Fellowship of the Ring (minus Gandalf, who’s off hobnobbing with kings and trees) get some valuable bro time amid the flotsam and jetsam of Isengard. Merry and Pippin have a lot to account for — and an angry Dwarf to appease — so they ply their friends with salted pork and pipe-weed while catching them up on the story si…
 
The company reaches Isengard and discovers that property values have tanked in recent months, and it’s no wonder why when they see how poorly Saruman’s been maintaining his yard. Holes in the ground fume and glow with unnatural light, the place is flooded, and piles of stone and broken masonry hint at some recent battle. But strangest of all to the…
 
For this episode, Sarah had the opportunity to talk with a blogger and fan who is new to the scene compared to our other guests, but she is already having an impact: Putri Prihatini! Putri writes the blog 'The Loremaster: Blog Tolkien Indonesia' where she writes posts in Indonesian and in English. Her article "Greed and Blood: Powerful Objects in T…
 
As the company exits the mysterious forest, Legolas looks back and is enchanted by the trees and their eyes — a perfectly ordinary thing for trees to have, obviously. Before Gimli makes a run for it out of pure self-preservation, Legolas is snapped out of it by Gandalf, who offers no real explanation (again) and urges them to press on along the roa…
 
After a long night, the heroes of Helm’s Deep reunite on the grass by a stream near a forest that, uh, wasn’t there yesterday… but we’ll get to that later. Legolas and Gimli check the final score of Uruk Slayfest 3019, showing the Dwarf ahead by a head, but less interested in bragging rights than in the Glittering Caves he found in the Deep. Gandal…
 
I cannot believe I get to write the following sentence: For this episode of the podcast, I was able to talk to the legendary animator who brought The Lord of the Rings to life in the 1970: Ralph Bakshi! Ralph Bakshi is most well known to our listeners as the director of the 1978 The Lord of the Rings animated movie. Ralph's work in animation is rev…
 
If you missed out on the PPP’s first-ever digital moot, here’s a chance to hear what you missed — or relive it, if you were there — in this episode recorded live during the second day of the moot! Alan and Shawn invited all attendees to join and ask any question, and they did… from fate and free will in Tolkien’s works (again), to underwater SPBMI,…
 
An explosion rocks the Deeping Wall, and soon there are more as Saruman’s blasting fires make what little hope the heroes had go up in smoke. But as dawn approaches, Aragorn still believes that victory may come with the new day, and Théoden realizes it’s better to burn out than fade away. We see Gimli’s martial prowess on display, investigate what …
 
This episode, we are so excited to share out interview with renowned Tolkien scholar Dr. Verlyn Flieger! Her scholarly publications include: A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road to Faerie, winner of the 1998 Mythopoeic Award for Inklings Studies; Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World; Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on the Hist…
 
In this nineteenth episode of Learned Hands, the Official Podcast of the Westerosi Bar Association, Maester Merry & Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire ask: How does the Law In Literature inform interpretations of the Dance of the Dragons? Our analysis this week includes: A blow-by-blow breakdown of the Blacks’ response to the Greens’ coup and the vary…
 
The Rohirrim, led by Théoden and Éomer (with lots of help from Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli), man the Deeping Wall and the Hornburg as Saruman’s assault on Helm’s Deep begins. A quick flash of lightning in the darkness reveals overwhelming odds, but Aragorn and Éomer draw swords together and keep morale high, even while rammers nearly break through …
 
Théoden and Gandalf lead the host of the Rohirrim towards the fords of the Isen to strengthen the forces holding back Saruman’s army. But when they meet a rider coming back from the front line with news of defeat, Théoden takes Gandalf’s counsel and changes course for Helm’s Deep and the mighty fortress of the Hornburg. We look at Unfinished Tales …
 
Our guest for this episode is a very well-respected artist in Tolkien circles: Jenny Dolfen! Jenny has been a freelance illustrator since 2003, and has gained notoriety for her work inspired by Tolkien's texts. She has won the Tolkien Society Award for Best Art three times, in 2014, 2018, and 2020! In this interview, Sarah talks to Jenny about her …
 
Théoden offers Wormtongue one last chance to redeem himself, but the counsellor is disinclined to acquiesce to his lord’s request. As Gríma’s stain is (literally) washed away, Gandalf and the king catch up on the history of Saruman’s treachery and the damage already done in Rohan before riding out to do something about it, leaving the fearless and …
 
Upon entering the Golden Hall, Gandalf is challenged once again; this time by Wormtongue, the king’s counsellor who may not exactly have Rohan’s best interests in mind. Gandalf puts the worm in its place (before Gimli can dissect it for smack-talking Galadriel) and then leads Théoden out into the light, to healing and hope for victory against Iseng…
 
Our guest this week is a viral sensation on TikTok and has recently made the move to YouTube: Willie Jenkins! Willie Jenkins is a super fan of Tolkien! He also has a magnetic personality and a desire to teach. These things have combined to make him a hit as he puts together short videos that summarize different characters or events from Tolkien's w…
 
In this eighteenth episode of Learned Hands, the Official Podcast of the Westerosi Bar Association, Maester Merry & Clint from Laws of Ice and Fire ask: What role did Westeros’ legal system play in enabling the Greens' coup? What lessons can we learn from it? Our analysis this week includes: Learned Hands returns to the Dance of the Dragons as we c…
 
Our heroes ride up the long and winding road that leads to Théoden’s door, but first they have to get through two sets of guards. Fortunately, Gandalf’s polyglottal talents get them through the first gate into Edoras, and they’ll be allowed into Meduseld itself just as long as they check their weapons at the door… their ancient, irreplaceable, pric…
 
Our guest this week is a consummate Tolkien scholar and academic: Chris Vaccaro! Chris is the editor of two collections of scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien: The Body in Tolkien’s Legendarium (2013) and Tolkien and Alterity (2017). He is also the organizer of the annual Tolkien in Vermont conference and a co-organizer of the Tolkien at Kalamazoo gro…
 
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