Patrick James on the New Books Series

by Phillip Witteveen on June 17, 2013

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Professor, author, and Canadian Patrick James joined host Dan Nexon on New Books in Science Fiction to discuss his recent International Relations of Middle Earth: Learning from the Lord of the Rings, (co-authored by Abigail Ruane). The idea rose out of James’ childhood interest in the series. “For many years, I’d been re-reading the books—was incredibly excited when the Peter Jackson movies came out. And what happened, was the Abi Ruane and I stumbled upon each other. We discovered this complementary interest while on a bus,” James said.

The book delves into the leadership and decision-making of the events of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings “to complement material from the real world’s prominent events to understand them better.” So far, it has been used by professors teaching International Relations “who are looking for some innovative way of grasping the material,” and by doctoral students looking for an interesting, theoretical overview to help them organize their understanding.

James’ and Ruane’s book tackles such subjects as public health, human rights, environmental policy through the lens of Tolkien’s intricate creation. It is that detail, explains James, that allows the series to be used as a model for real-life political interactions.

“So,” asks Nexon, “if Canada was a country in Middle-earth, what would it be?”

“Realistically, we are pretty close to hobbits” says James.

You can listen to the full conversation here.

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