Corey Olsen

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Corey Olsen
Corey Olsen

(1974-08-16) August 16, 1974 (age 44)
Other namesTolkien Professor
OccupationProfessor, President of Signum University
Years active2004—
AwardsPhi Beta Kappa
Academic background
Alma materColumbia University
Academic work
DisciplineEnglish Literature, J.R.R. Tolkien

Corey Olsen is a professor and podcaster known as the Tolkien Professor[1] best known for his work in new media promoting the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Anglo Saxon literature.[2] Formerly a professor at Washington College, Olsen now dedicates his time to Signum University,[3] an online learning facility he founded in 2012.


Corey Olsen obtained his B.A in English and Astrophysics[4] from Williams College in 1996, going on to Columbia University where he obtained his M.A. in 1997, M.Phil in 2000, and his Ph.D in medieval literature in 2003.[5]

Academic career[edit]

Upon graduation from Columbia University, Olsen obtained teaching positions at Temple University, Columbia University, and Nyack College. He then proceeded to his longest standing position to date, Assistant Professor of English at Washington College with a specialty on J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthurian Literature, Chaucer, and Sir Thomas Malory. It was at Washington College that Olsen was first able to teach a literary class on Tolkien.[5] In 2013 Professor Olsen left Washington College to focus on Signum University and the Mythgard Institute, online learning websites offering classes in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, Fantasy Literature, Latin and Creative Writing.[6][7]

Online Education[edit]

With the success of his podcasts, Olsen founded the Mythgard institute and Signum University where he is now President.[3] These institutes offer a range of classes on Latin, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, Creative Writing and fantasy and science fiction literature (such as "The Story of The Hobbit.")[8] Olsen founded Signum University and the Mythgard Institute belief that "We at Signum University believe that this kind of academic experience should be available to "everyone, everywhere".[9] Several of the courses that are offered at the Mythgard Institute have also been offered for free downloads through iTunes U, the first of these courses was "The Lord of the Rings 1: The Road Goes Ever On."[10]. On April 8th Corey announced that Signum University was to be formally entered for New Hampshire state certification via the New Hampshire Department of Education and following some days of crowdfunding they raised the $23,720 required [11] and later in 2018 Signum University began the ascension process. On 24th April Signum University[12] announced that the New Hampshire Department of Education has accepted the request for Signum University to do business in New Hampshire [12] but (as of 17 February) has yet to receive permission to grant degrees. However, a Bill passed in the Senate,[13] and is yet to go to the house, is proposing that Signum University the official granting of degrees saying, "Signum University [will be authorised] to grant degrees in this state".


In June 2009 Olsen launched the Tolkien Professor podcast.[14] The Podcast was originally created to explore the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, primarily The Hobbit, with latter episodes focusing on The Silmarillion. The podcast achieved over a quarter of a million downloads in its first year alone.[5] It expanded to cover the history of fairy stories and their influence on modern fantasy along with supplementary podcasts on the movie adaptations of the works of Tolkien. The supplementary podcasts, often co-hosted by former students, were recorded under the title Riddles in the Dark.[15][16] Another infrequent aspect of the Tolkien Professor podcasts was the Tolkien Chat[17] call-in shows. These shows were hosted through Skype where listeners could call in and ask Olsen questions directly. The shows were then edited and published as podcasts.

Olsen also published several of his Washington College courses, including Faerie and Fantasy[18] that covered some of the well known works of Middle English such as Sir Orfeo, Sir Launfal, and The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle.[19] To go along with his book Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit,[20] Olsen published a series of lectures on The Hobbit that gave chapter reviews and interpretation of the story, poetry, and prose of The Hobbit.[21]

Publications & Papers[edit]

"The Myth of the Ent and the Entwife" in Tolkien Studies Volume V[22]
Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Hobbit"[20]
"Adulterated love: the tragedy of Malory's Lancelot and Guinevere" in Malory and Christianity : essays on Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur[23]


  1. ^ "The Tolkien Professor - Mythgard Institute". The Tolkien Professor. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  2. ^ de Vise, Daniel (2011-02-12). "'Tolkien Professor' Corey Olsen brings Middle-earth to iTunes via podcasts". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  3. ^ a b "About Signum University". Retrieved 2016-03-18.
  4. ^ Staff Page Signum University:
  5. ^ a b c "Corey Olsen". Washington College. Archived from the original on 2013-06-26.
  6. ^ "Signum University: Affordable Education for the 21st Century". Signum University. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  7. ^ "Mythgard Institute – A Research Center for Speculative Fiction". Mythgard Institute. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  8. ^ Signum University class list:
  9. ^ Signum University about page, "The Dawn of a New Era:
  10. ^ "The Road goes ever on Free Download:
  11. ^ "Help Cover Signum's Accreditation Application Costs". Signum University. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  12. ^ a b "Signum University: NH Dept. of Ed. Announces Signum's Approval". Signum University. 2019-02-09. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  13. ^ "New Hampshire General Court - Bill Status System". Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  14. ^ Tolkien Professor:
  15. ^ Mythgard Institute:
  16. ^ Interview at Festival in the Shire:
  17. ^ Tolkien Chat:
  18. ^ Faerie and Fantasy on Tolkien Professor:
  19. ^ Tolkien Professor:
  20. ^ a b Olsen, Corey (2012). Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Hobbit". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  21. ^ The Hobbit Lectures:
  22. ^ Olsen, Corey (2008). "The Myth of the Ent and the Entwife". Tolkien Studies. West Virginia University Press. 5: 39–53. doi:10.1353/tks.0.0013. ISBN 978-1-938228-55-1. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  23. ^ Olsen, Corey (2013). "Adulterated love: the tragedy of Malory's Lancelot and Guinevere". In Jesmok, Janet; Hanks, Dorrel Thomas (eds.). Malory and Christianity : essays on Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Studies in Medieval Culture. 51. Kalamazoo : Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. p. 214. ISBN 9781580441759.

External links[edit]