Free online course using online games to examine literature and new media launches Sept. 9

A new, free massive open online course, or MOOC, from Vanderbilt University launching Sept. 9 uses J.R.R. Tolkien and “The Lord of the Rings Online” to explore what happens to stories and films when they are turned into online games.

The course, taught by Jay Clayton, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy, is free and open to all. It is being offered through Vanderbilt’s partnership with the digital learning platform Coursera.

To register for Clayton’s course, entitled “Online Games: Literature, New Media and Narrative,” visit the Coursera website.

“Intended for both newcomers who are curious about video games and hard-core gamers who want to reflect on their passion, this course will explore what happens to stories, paintings and films when they become the basis of massively multiplayer online games,” Clayton said. “The Lord of the Rings trilogy—the novels, films and video game—are our central example of how ‘remediation’ transforms familiar stories as they move across media.”

Students will study “The Lord of the Rings Online™” (LOTRO) against the backdrop of other games; narrative theory, media studies and game design; poems by Spenser, Coleridge, Keats and Browning; fiction by Tolkien; and art since the Pre-Raphaelites that has influenced the neo-medievalism of much fantasy literature and gaming.

This course draws on Clayton’s experiences teaching this material at the undergraduate and graduate level at Vanderbilt.

Clayton’s course is the fourth Vanderbilt MOOC offered on Coursera since the university began its partnership with the platform in September 2012. Visit the Vanderbilt Digital Learning website to learn more about the university’s digital learning initiatives.