MCC Instructors Take Students on Literary Journey Through Good and Evil

Jim Gould and Ted Hazelgrove

Longtime MCC instructors Jim Gould and Ted Hazelgrove are taking their students on an adventure to Middle-earth—and back again. Along the way, students will learn about trust, courage, wisdom, friendship and hospitality. These virtues—and their vices—are among the themes explored in the teaching duo’s popular Learning Communities class, “Morals and Malice in Middle-Earth: A Hobbit’s Journey Through Good and Evil,” which delves into J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Gould and Hazelgrove have each integrated their expertise—ethics and literature, respectively—into their lessons. Also known as a Twofer, these team-taught courses at MCC integrate two subjects, and students earn twice the credit. Their aim is to relate the content into students’ lives.

In a typical three-hour class, students discuss themes from the book or a scene from the popular film and listen to mini-lectures, interspersed with short writing activities that students can relate to their own lives.

Both instructors check in with each other by phone or get together before class to share new ideas or tweak lesson plans. “We’re always tinkering; often one of us will have another idea to use in class,” Gould said.

While Gould routinely fills the board with images and graphics, Hazelgrove relies on his more improvisational lecture style. But both admit they learn from each other, which creates a dynamic classroom experience.

“It’s a good blend,” Hazelgrove said. “We work well together. It has influenced my other classes.”

Gould agreed, adding, “That’s the beauty of working with another person. It keeps you real fresh.”

Indeed, though they’ve team-taught the course for six years, their passion for the subject never grows stale. They recently shared their teaching approach for Tolkien’s work in a new book, Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, edited by Leslie A. Donovan. Their essay was one of 29 selected from 102 proposals from various colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

“It’s very gratifying to see your pedagogy acknowledged,” Hazelgrove said.

 “For both of us, this class is the best professional development of our teaching careers,” Gould said. “There’s always something magical with The Lord of the Rings.”

For information on other Twofers, visit

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