The Riddle of the Ring: Dark Magic & Spiritual Danger in Tolkien

Oct 28, 2021
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Rachel Fulton BrownUniversity of Chicago

Open to current students and faculty. Dinner at 6:00 p.m. | Lecture at 6:30 p.m.

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.” Everyone knows that Sauron made the One Ring, but nobody—including Tolkien—seems to know how it worked, perhaps because nobody—including Tolkien—explained how Sauron made it. Where did Tolkien get the idea of magic rings? What would it mean to make a magic ring? And what might explain its effects? In this lecture, Professor Rachel Fulton Brown gives a brief history of English magic in quest of the making of Sauron’s One Ring and explores the spiritual dangers in attempting to make such rings for Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits—and Men.


For all events held at Gavin House, the Lumen Christi Institute follows Chicago Department of Public Health Guidance for in-person gatherings. Please see here for the city’s most up-to-date guidelines. These are guidelines subject to change.

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Rachel Fulton Brown is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching focus on the intellectual and cultural history of Europe in the Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on the history of Christianity and monasticism in the Latin West. She is author of From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary 800-1200, History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person, and Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought.