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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Reading Room book discussions: best practices
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Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 5 2013, 1:41am

Post #26 of 42 (139 views)
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None taken! [In reply to] Can't Post

I realize that I DO ramble, (Well, maybe it's more of an over-comprehensive approach. I HATE being unclear.), and I have to do a few edits to pare anything down to be concise. At first go, I always include too much detail, for fear of not being clear.

I'm also something of a speed reader(500+ WPM) with good comprehension, so that doesn't help my case any. I read through a page rather quickly, and only return to analyze a passage to which I will directly reply.

Not a good combo for delivery to anything other than a captive audience. Haha!


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 5 2013, 2:06am

Post #27 of 42 (159 views)
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A quick word about UVM [In reply to] Can't Post

The University of Vermont sends students here from time to time. It's an assignment: the students are supposed to post questions about Tolkien or LotR and participate in a discussion. They identify themselves with UVM in their subjects or nicks.

I can't find the last set of these right now, but as I recall we all ended up swapping jokes and cleverness and didn't discuss Tolkien all that much. Now, as wonderful as it is that we have such clever, witty people here, and as much fun as it was, we should really keep in mind that the students are here for a purpose!








Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 5 2013, 2:10am

Post #28 of 42 (145 views)
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Hmmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

I must have unwittingly missed that.....

A good thing to bear in mind nonetheless!!!


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 5 2013, 2:45am

Post #29 of 42 (143 views)
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This is the thread... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I was concerned about.

Some later UVM threads had a little more content :-)








Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Sep 5 2013, 4:26pm

Post #30 of 42 (134 views)
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just to add ... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
... re the uvm thread...

that thread took place over a period of time, and there were other threads, besides -- including interchanges with the instructor of the course. the reading room made many, many welcoming statements, but the students themselves did not post a lot, and i don't think the primary reason was that we did not give them space. posting frequency / interaction also depends on the individuals, and perhaps this summer's crop of individuals were just not the more active posters seen in previous years.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 6 2013, 2:07am

Post #31 of 42 (107 views)
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I think the idea was to make people feel welcome. [In reply to] Can't Post

Indeed we later covered much more Tolkien, once questions were posed. I hope to see more of the students this next semester.

I am of course a great offender if one considers humor to be inappropriate.

Which I don't! Wink (Stating the obvious.)

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2013, 8:45am

Post #32 of 42 (111 views)
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the UVM students are here for a purpose... [In reply to] Can't Post

...so the onus is on them to make use of the Reading Room to post items for discussion so that they fulfill their purpose, surely?

If they prefer not to do that, or to restrict themselves to witty banter, then it seems to me that they are simply failing to take up an opportunity which is available to them - which is between them & their tutor, I'd have supposed.

Of course it may be that some students have been able to find the material they wanted by searching & lurking, which is absolutely fine too. It would be nice if they paid the community back by contributing as well, but I do appreciate that they may need to be very focused on assignments, and that posting anything is quite a hurdle for some folks (but me, I just can't shut up Wink)

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2013, 9:47am

Post #33 of 42 (115 views)
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Many things went very well! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the amount of planning was about right - I think it is actually better only to plan a few weeks ahead. Vitally, this allows people who have joined us mid-book to volunteer to host chapters. If the chapters had all been assigned at the outset this couldn't have happened, & woudl have given the impression that you had to somehow get elected to an equivalent to the White Council to be invited to contribute. That's a danger for a lot of volunteer activities, & leads to a small, exhausted group grumbling about how no-one else ever does anything...

We did need a timetable for the planned weeks - one chapter a week (with exceptions) worked well, I thought.

The key factor for success was the Reading Room culture. It is courteous and inclusive. We should continue to advertise that this is so - e.g. the "all welcome; you just need a book & an opinion". It is sadly all to rare a culture While factual errors are (rightly) corrected swiftly, they are corrected politely. Otherwise, other folks' readings of the text are treated as interesting, rather than heretical. We debated some topics (e.g. Christian influences on the work; gender roles) which would surely have become un-debatable on other fora. But I don't recall the Admins once having to intervene to calm things.

We were blessed with a mix of old hands, and newer recruits. We have a mixture of Tolkien expertise. Clearly some contributors have written books about Tolkien, and others could surely do so. Others (like me) are merely interested. This cosmopolitan mix has been a huge advantage I think. I would imagine that, after many years of deep study of Tolkien, the difficult thing is to think about it in a fresh way. That's what us juniors can bring to the Senseis, perhaps.

A very interesting thing (in the Reading Room generally, as well as in this read through) is to see people bring their own experiences to bear in thinking about the works. People contributed insights from their professional lives and other interests (knowledge about medicine, horses, armour, swords, writing, feminism, history, theology, philosophy, wilderness camping....). Also, I think our Reading experiences are bound to be interestingly different.

My experiences of hosting discussions (I prefer to think I am "hosting" rather than "leading" or "managing") was that I needed to read the chapter carefully & then think about how best to present the start of a discussion. After that, its mostly out of the host's hands: the ongoing discussion is formed as a group effort. For me, the best method was usually something I copied from Maciliel: one thread, started with a introductory post, and then a subthread off that for each of the main themes or questions I had come up with. At first, I worried that this would dictate the shape of the discussion too much, but that didn't happen. Fortunately, people were uninhibited about creating extra sub-threads where that was useful. I moved away from the one starter post with many questions, because I worried that it could be rather overwhelming (people could feel that they have to think through an answer for every question before replying). Whereas with subthreads, I hope people feel invited to pick off the issues they care about, one at a time if they wish. The method which worked least well for me was the one I used on Flight of the Noldor - announce that there would be a succession of threads, each with a particular topic. That caused problems because people wanted to raise points which I might be going to cover in a future thread, and weren't sure when it would be OK to post. So better to get it all out there at the start of the party.

But, I do want to emphasis: I am simply recounting the way of doing things I found best. I do not claim that this is the best, or correct, way of hosting a chapter discussion. Indeed, I think it is important that hosts do it their way. That is part of what the host brings - his or her own thoughts about what there is to discuss, and how best to start discussing it . As I say, once the discussion is started it canters deliciously out of the hosts' control. Some of the most interesting and entertaining subrthreads were ones I really would not have anticipated: serious items as well as kilts, zombies and so on.

I think it is actually pretty difficult to go wrong as the host, short of doing something so obviously inappropriate that it wouldn't happen (e.g. just not starting the discussion, or posting the wrong chapter, or insisting dogmatically on a certain reading of it & shouting down everyone else). The host gives the Room an opportunity to discuss the chapter. He or she sets this up to the best of his/her ability, then does the equivalent to the hostly duties at a party (keep the nibbles going; make appreciative or welcoming noises as appropriate etc.) The quality of the resulting discussion is ultimately beyond the hosts' control. Don't worry, & join the party.

I think it is good if we can think about the needs of someone trying to join a read-through which is under way. And we need to remember that people will want to find these discussions in future, and will appreciate being able to navigate through them. It was good that we had a sticky thread for the read-through generally, so that people didn't miss that it was going on. I posted a "contents table" (hyperlinks to each chapter discussion) on that thread at various times. I should update that.

I think I'm probably not the only person who relies on getting email notification, rather than always browsing to see if a new chapter is up . So I sometimes remembered to post in the discussion of Chapter 8 (say) that the discussion of Chapter 9 had started. My thinking was that this would notify anyone watching the Chapter 8 thread, & they could come along and join Ch9. It also gave a chance to say that our threads never close - someone reading the Silmarillion next year could post further points & the discussion would probably resume. How nice.

On a final, personal note: this was the first time I read the Silmarillion (having tried it when it was first published, & having been very disappointed it was not in the same style as Lord of the Rings). I'm pleased to have made it through. Whether I'd have doen this without company I don't know: I certainly would have got very much less out of doing so. It's been a wonderful experience for me, and I thank you all very much.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 6 2013, 7:36pm

Post #34 of 42 (87 views)
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Your table is appreciated !!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Doesn't that sound like something a Hobbit might say to Butterbur? Smile

Organizing the table is a good move, plus the sticky gives the idea on who presented the chapters. Great idea in tidying and referencing. And I agree, a schedule is great as long as we don't make it too far out, and allow for new voices to sign up and present as well.

I also agree: the subthreading idea to separate ideas and allow people to go section by section is a very useful approach. I will be using it for #131 as well.

A thank you back for all your presentations and insights Furincurunir!!! WinkCool

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2013, 7:59pm

Post #35 of 42 (84 views)
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So…we want a sticky table?… // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 6 2013, 8:55pm

Post #36 of 42 (83 views)
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Yes. Yes we do. [In reply to] Can't Post

More difficult to dance on, but prevents spills. Wink

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2013, 9:05pm

Post #37 of 42 (78 views)
Shortcut
With practice, you could probably dance on a sticky table even after it had been overturned… // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2013, 9:18pm

Post #38 of 42 (76 views)
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It could be painful for Hobbit feet.....OUCH!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 6 2013, 11:09pm

Post #39 of 42 (68 views)
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Talk about turning the tables. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 6 2013, 11:10pm

Post #40 of 42 (69 views)
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Think of how smooth they would be though...! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








elaen32
Gondor


Sep 7 2013, 8:24pm

Post #41 of 42 (51 views)
Shortcut
Are you going on about melted chocolate again?!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 8 2013, 12:16am

Post #42 of 42 (59 views)
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Not specifically...but that's a very fun way to get sticky... [In reply to] Can't Post

Now that you mention it.

Wink

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!







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