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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Ecophilosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien: Rural, Urban, and Wilderness Roads to Conscientious Living and Environmental Guardianship
by Korver, William Graham, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, 2019, 581; 13862279
Abstract (Summary)

A core message of J.R.R. Tolkien’s canon concerning the human and non-human global community appears in The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf addresses the Captains of the West, as they prepare their plans to march on the Black Gate of Sauron the ecosadist. Within this quotation, Gandalf urges the Captains to, whenever possible, weed what, whom, when, and where they can. Throughout the various Ages of Middle-earth, Tolkien exhorts his characters (and his readers) to weed and remove “the evil” within their bodies, their minds, and their spirits, as well as the world around them. Tolkien’s Middle-earth Legendarium highlights how selfishness, more than any other negative trait, can lead individuals and people groups to adopt and increasingly exhibit ecosadistic beliefs and attitudes, which, in turn, causes these morally compromised individuals and groups to commit acts of ecocide. Negative traits like ignorance, callousness, and laziness often reinforce the evil of selfishness in Tolkien’s Middle-earth tales, and therefore, often contribute to the destruction of the physical environment as well. These intellectual, moral, ethical, and spiritual failings, therefore, cause considerable damage to the wilderness, rural, and urban environments of Middle-earth (as they do in our world) due to insufficient political, cultural, and ideological weeding. Thus, Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasies explore what comprises beneficial work, while offering messages of cautious hope for the future. Tolkien’s texts explain that quality environmental guardianship must consider not only the well-being of the individual but also the well-being of small groups, local communities, nations, groups of nations, and the whole world. Tolkien builds from Judeo-Christian practices, from previous historical eras, and from the ideas of his episteme to create his fantastic visions and the environmental ideologies within his Middle-earth texts. Tolkien’s works, moreover, serve as partial precursors to a vast array of contemporary ecophilosophies, for these ecophilosophies condemn selfishness, in general, and callousness, in particular. Both Tolkien’s writings and the works of contemporary ecocritics, on the other hand, often argue that humans must strive to better understand and satisfy the needs of the marginalized, in general, and non-human nature, in particular, to an even greater degree.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Eldevik, Randi
Commitee: Eldevik, Randi, Murphy, Tim, Wadoski, Andrew, Weimer, Christopher
School: Oklahoma State University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: British and Irish literature, Ethics, Sustainability
Keywords: Christianity, Environment, Philosophy, Tolkien, J. R. R., The Lord of the Rings
Publication Number: 13862279
ISBN: 9781088381717
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