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Episode 15: Online Education with The Tolkien Professor—Corey Olsen

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 29, 2018 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Corey Olsen, aka The Tolkien Professor, started out putting his college lectures out in podcast form, and ended up founding an online master’s program devoted to the study of imaginative literature: Signum University. We discuss Signum, the state approval process, the current advantages and prospects of online education, some differences between Tolkien and Lewis, and reading Tolkien with children.


Signum University

Mythgard Institute (Signum’s free programs for the public)

The Tolkien Professor Podcast

Corey Olsen’s website


Corey Olsen

2:38 Signum University approved by the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission

3:02 Scope of studies at Signum University: definition of imaginative literature; Tolkien at the center

5:54 A fundamental difference between Tolkien and Lewis

15:23 The process of getting an educational program approved by a state board

22:46 Corey’s motivations to podcast: desire to communicate with more than a tiny academic audience, unfulfilled demand from people who want to study Tolkien seriously

28:43 Making online education more than just an efficient correspondence course: real-time interaction and community

33:14 Online education as an affordable alternative to bilking students and exploiting faculty

40:00 Signum’s free programs for the public at the Mythgard Institute

47:04 How old should your kid be to read The Lord of the Rings?

52:38 Moralizing Tolkien vs. Lewis: how they lend themselves to different ways of reading with children

56:17 This week’s reading: J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 250

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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