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Putting the Fest in Tolkien

While Drexel is rightly proud of its 18 Division I athletic teams, being host to the Olympic Table Tennis trials in 2008, Drexel Dragon Malik Rose, and our 2012 Olympian rowing alumnus Stephen Kasprzyk, let’s not forget that there’s a nerdy side to all of us — we have a dragon for a mascot after all.

In celebration of such nerd-dom, students and professors gather together to pay homage to the iconic fantasy works of J.R.R. Tolkien during Tolkienfest. A day-long event, Tolkienfest was started by English and Philosophy professor Don Riggs. The first occurred in November of 2001, a month before the box office release of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. After the success of the original, Tolkienfest became an annual event before the release of the rest of the trilogy. Now, back by popular demand and more Peter Jackson movies, a Tolkienfest will be held a month before both installments of The Hobbit.

Historically, the Tolkienfests have been well attended. Riggs — who, in addition to Freshman Composition also teaches courses in science fiction and fantasy, such as Tolkien: The Book versus the Movies and A Game of Thrones — attributes the popularity of such classes and events to the natural fit between Drexel’s popular applied majors like engineering and information technology and the sci-fi and fantasy genres. “There are a lot of Drexel students whose preferred reading material is science fiction or fantasy,” he says.

The make up of each Tolkienfest is determined by students, staff, and participants. Based on the prior events, Riggs anticipates that there will be some academic presentations, some games, probably a viewing party of previous film versions of The Hobbit, a potluck, and “all sorts of different things, whatever people come up with.” So, don your hairy hobbit feet and start practicing your Elvish.