The Dorms of Middle Earth

Someone who picks the right university can have a fantastic life in more than one sense of the word.

For example, after a student at UC Irvine meets with Professor Gregory Benford she may amble home to her dorm in Middle Earth:

Middle Earth houses approximately 1,690 students in 24 residence halls. The names of the halls and other facilities were selected from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The halls are divided into six clusters or theme areas of four halls and offer classes associated with their names.

Middle Earth was built in three phases:

  • Phase I opened in 1974 with seven (7) halls: Hobbiton, Isengard, Lorien, Mirkwood, Misty Mountain, Rivendell, and The Shire. Brandywine Commons, and Brandywine Student Center (BSC) are also in Middle Earth.
  • Phase II opened in 1989-90 and it includes 13 halls: Balin, Harrowdale, Whispering Wood, Woodhall, Calmindon, Grey Havens, Aldor, Rohan, Gondolin, Snowbourn, Elrond, Shadowfax, and Quenya. Phase II also includes Pippin Dining Commons, the housing office, and Bucklebury Library. 
  • Phase III opened in Fall 2000 and includes four (4) halls: Crickhollow, Evenstar, Oakenshield, and Valimar. Arkenstone, a 24-hour academic resource and study center, officially opened in fall of 2007.

And a student at Azusa Pacific University enrolled in one of Dr. Diana Glyer’s classes may leave a talk about the Inklings to return to his mod in the Shire. My own nephew Adam lived with his roommates in one of those modular apartments for a term.

While I find the naming convention quite entertaining, even names out of Tolkien’s legendarium once officially attached to university housing are prone to lose some of their magic. That’s why Azusa Pacific student Mychal Clements, Online Editor of The Clause, recently challenged people to make more playful use of the Shire’s connection with Tolkien.

In my three years at Azusa Pacific I have not heard one single joke about the Shire. I am astounded and shocked that this is the case, hey readers. It’s called the Shire. The Shire, where Hobbits come from.

Am I saying that there needs to be an overkill of references and jokes? No. But maybe the occasional comment, joke or event would make me happy. However you should not do it just to make me happy, but instead because the nomenclature of the Shire demands it.

I’m sure that if the ghost of Mr. Tolkien were to walk Azusa Pacific’s campus he would be disappointed and depressed at the lack of recognition for the Shire.

Shire residents, please make more references, or put up the occasional poster. Don’t do it for me, don’t do it for yourself, but rather do it for the possible ghost of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[Via Andrew Porter and Michael J. Lowery.]

4 thoughts on “The Dorms of Middle Earth

  1. How many people know that California is a name taken from a fantasy novel?

    Not many, I suspect, but still a lot more than have read the book in question.

  2. P. S.: There’s a non-university apartment complex in north St. Louis County named “Hobbit’s Glen”, which is the name of the little side street it’s on as well.

  3. I saw that once when I was visiting the college for a tech conference. Pippin is a really nice cafeteria – we were eating lunch there and it had some excellent grub.

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