Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

James Tauber

Signum MA FacultySPACE PreceptorSPACE Team

Digital philologist and corpus linguist

James is a philologist, linguist, and software developer who works with scholars around the world using computers to better understand languages and texts. He has worked with text corpora, markup languages, and Web technologies for over thirty years. He currently develops software for Signum University and the Perseus Digital Library among other organizations. As a scholar he primarily works on corpus-driven historical language learning and also heads up the Digital Tolkien Project. He has studied linguistics, Ancient Greek, educational measurement, Germanic philology, music theory and composition, and recently completed an MA in corpus linguistics with a dissertation on linguistic variation in Tolkien's writing style. [see full bio...]

All Modules

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit

Lecture-based Format
Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit 1

Lecture-based Format
In Module 1 of our journey through The History of the Hobbit we will explore Chapters I through VII.

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit 2

Lecture-based Format
In Module 2 of our journey through The History of the Hobbit we will explore Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase.

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards

A Journey Through The History of the Hobbit 3

Lecture-based Format
In Module 3 of our journey through The History of the Hobbit we will explore The Third Phase onwards.

Just as Christopher Tolkien did for the rest of his father’s Middle-earth works, John Rateliff has compiled the manuscripts and early versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and presented them with notes and commentary. In this three-part series, we will work our way through Rateliff’s book, The History of the Hobbit. From the first drafts where Gandalf was called Bladorthin (and Thorin was called Gandalf) to the later versions made to better fit with The Lord of the Rings, this SPACE series will give you a much better understanding of how The Hobbit was crafted and a new appreciation for the story that, in some respects, started it all. As well as Rateliff’s material, these modules will also feature some never-before-seen visualizations of The Hobbit draft texts from the Digital Tolkien Project.

Module 1: Chapters I through VII
Module 2: Chapter VIII to the end of The Second Phase
Module 3: The Third Phase onwards

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth (HoMe Series)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

In this series of SPACE modules, we will tackle one volume per month over the course of a year. Each month-long module will provide an overview of a volume in context as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. Each module will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (HoMe 1)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume One, The Book of Lost Tales Part One, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two (HoMe 2)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Two, The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read The History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Lays of Beleriand (HoMe 3)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on The History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Three, The Lays of Beleriand, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Lost Road and Other Writings (HoMe 5)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Five, The Lost Road and Other Writings, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Peoples of Middle-earth (HoMe 12)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the final book (Volume Twelve), The Peoples of Middle-earth, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of Middle-earth: The Shaping of Middle-earth (HoMe 4)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of Volume Four, The Shaping of Middle-earth, as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: Sauron Defeated (HoMe 9)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the fourth and final book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The Treason of Isengard (Volume Nine of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Shadow (HoMe 6)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the first book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the Shadow (Volume Six of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Isengard (HoMe 7)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the second book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The Treason of Isengard (Volume Seven of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The History of the Lord of the Rings: The War of the Ring (HoMe 8)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the third book in The History of The Lord of the Rings, The War of the Ring (Volume Eight of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearances from Tolkien scholar, John Garth, and from Marquette University Archivist, William Fliss.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The Later Silmarillion, Part One: Morgoth's Ring (HoMe 10)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the first book in The Later Silmarillion, Morgoth's Ring (Volume Ten of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

A Journey Through The Later Silmarillion, Part Two: The War of the Jewels (HoMe 11)

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Christopher Tolkien’s twelve volumes on the History of Middle-earth give unparalleled insight into the development of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. They contain early drafts of familiar texts, different conceptualizations of well-known stories, and in some cases completely new material.

This module is part of a series of modules covering all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This particular module will provide an overview of the second book in The Later Silmarillion, The War of the Jewels (Volume Eleven of The History of the Middle-earth), as well as readings from and discussion of highlights in that volume. It will include a guest appearance from Tolkien scholar John Garth.

Whether you’ve read the History of Middle-earth before or not, the hope is that these modules will make the volumes more accessible and will enhance your appreciation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. There is no requirement that you do every single module in the series as each will be largely standalone, although in later modules, references will be made to earlier volumes.

Ancient Greek Morphology

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Designed for intermediate students of Classical or Biblical Greek with roughly a year under their belts, this course will provide a detailed look at the inflectional system of Ancient Greek, moving past the memorization of paradigms to provide a rich linguistic explanation for why Ancient Greek word forms work the way they do.

Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
The Goldberg Variations is a keyboard work by J. S. Bach considered by many to be one of the greatest musical compositions of all time. In this module, we will listen, analyze and discuss our way through the piece. We will begin with the background to the composition, and study the initial aria and the ground bass that underlies the entire piece. We will then work our way through each of the thirty variations, listening to a couple of performances of each and studying the score. Along the way we will discuss the basics of harmony and counterpoint. Our goal is that you come away with a deeper understanding of this remarkable piece of music and a greater appreciation of the genius of Bach.

Note: Ability to read music is not required for this module!

Bridge to The Silmarillion

Lecture-based Format
This course is intended for people who have read The Lord of the Rings and are beginners to The Silmarillion. We will re-read various passages from Lord of the Rings that make reference to First Age people, places, and events: the mighty Elf-friends of old, the Exile of the Elves; the Tale of Tinúviel; the story of Eärendil and more. We will whet our appetites and gather some motivating questions that will make a future journey into The Silmarillion easier and more enjoyable.

Electronic Text Markup With XML and TEI

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
This module will introduce the markup of literary and historical texts electronically. It will begin with a tour of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and then the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). There will plenty of hands-on activities to markup your out-of-copyright texts of choice but please note that these activities will require a computer (not just a phone or tablet).

Lowdham’s Report on the Adunaic Language

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Tolkien wrote a grammar of the Adunaic language, the language of Númenor, as part of his Notion Club Papers in the 1940s. Unlike his other language invention, this work was never revisited and so, even though it is incomplete, we don’t have to sort through multiple layers of corrections and changes-of-mind. This is an uncharacteristically “clean” description of one of Tolkien’s languages.

In this module, we’ll take on the role of budding philologists, working our way through the “Report”. We’ll not only get more insight into Tolkien’s language invention but into grammar, philology, and linguistics in general. We’ll draw comparisons with “real” languages of the primary world and see how languages were described in the tradition Tolkien was trained in.

Music Theory for the Mathematically-Inclined

Lecture-based Format
Music is often described as mathematical but music theory is rarely taught from this perspective. This course will cover traditional basic music theory but will explore some of the underlying mathematical reasons why music works the way it does. Nothing beyond high school math is required.

The History of the Symphony: After Beethoven

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
This module will be a chronological listening tour of the history of the symphony after Beethoven. We will explore the symphony’s subsequent development in the romantic era, and its rethinking in the 20th century. We will listen to some key works together and discuss some of the innovations introduced in those particular works.

The History of the Symphony: Beginnings to Beethoven

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
This module will be a chronological listening tour from the precursors of the symphony in the baroque era to the birth of the symphony in the classical era culminating in the works of Beethoven. We will listen to some key works together and discuss some of the innovations introduced in those particular works.

'The Rings of Power' Discussion Group

Discussion-based Format
The wait is over and Amazon’s new Tolkien-inspired series has come. Already, this series has stimulated much heated discussion across various social media, with the images and trailers dividing opinion among Tolkien fans. In this discussion group, we will watch the show and discuss what we have seen, linking it to what we already know about Tolkien’s creation, and exploring the ways in which ‘The Rings of Power’ is extending the world of Middle-earth.

Access to copies of The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is desirable. Prior knowledge of the texts is also desirable, but you could manage without. Knowledge of The History of Middle-earth series and The Unfinished Tales is a bonus!

The Second Age of Middle-earth

Lecture-based Format
The Second Age of Middle-earth saw the rise and fall of Númenor, the rise and (apparent) fall of Sauron, and the creation of the Rings of Power. This course will look at the events of the Second Age with readings from LOTR (especially Appendix A and B), Unfinished Tales, and the Silmarillion. It will be of particular interest to people who want to know more about the Second Age to be ready for the Amazon Prime series LOTR: The Rings of Power starting in September 2022.

Tolkien’s Invented Languages in The Lord of the Rings

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
In this puzzle-solving course we will work to piece together Tolkien’s invented languages based primarily on how they are used in The Lord of the Rings. Although much richer linguistic information became publicly available later, this course will look primarily at those aspects of the languages revealed through the main text and appendices of The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien's Writing Systems

Lecture-based Format
This module will study various writing systems invented or adapted by Tolkien. We will primarily look at the Tengwar and the Angerthas (Cirth) described in The Lord of the Rings but we will also touch on other systems such as the Hobbit runes and other runic variants as well as the Goblin Alphabet from Letters from Father Christmas. Along the way we will introduce some basic phonetics and place Tolkien’s inventions in the context of the writing systems of the primary world.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].