Doctoral Dissertation Defense: February 26, 2018

CIIS LogoThe Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion Program

Invites You to

A Doctoral Dissertation Defense 
Becca Segall Tarnas

The Back of Beyond:
The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, February 26, 3:00 – 4:30pm 

Room 607 & Online via Zoom (details below)

Beginning in the years leading up to the Great War, both C. G. Jung and J. R. R. Tolkien independently began to undergo profound imaginal experiences. They had each stepped across a threshold and entered into another world, the realm of imagination, the world of fantasy. Jung recorded these initially spontaneous visionary experiences, which he further developed using the practice of active imagination, in a large red manuscript that he named Liber Novus, although usually it is referred to simply as The Red Book. The experiences narrated in The Red Book became the seeds from which nearly all of Jung’s subsequent work flowered. For Tolkien, this imaginal journey revealed to him the world of Middle-earth, whose stories and myths eventually led to the writing of The Lord of the Rings, a book he named within its own imaginal history The Red Book of Westmarch. There are many synchronistic parallels between Jung’s and Tolkien’s Red Books: the style and content of their works of art, the narrative descriptions and scenes in their texts, the nature of their visions and dreams, and an underlying similarity in world view that emerged from their experiences. The two men seem to have been simultaneously treading parallel paths through the imaginal realm.

The revelations of this research hold deep consequences for modernity’s assumptions of a disenchanted world, and bring to the surface implications concerning the nature of imagination and its participatory relationship to the collective unconscious. In this dissertation, I will point to the possibility that Tolkien and Jung are preliminary guides on a journey to the depths of an ensouled cosmos in which imagination saturates the very foundations of reality.

Dissertation Committee Chair:                 Jacob Sherman, PhD                             
Dissertation Committee Member:            Craig Chalquist, PhD
Dissertation External Member:                 Daniel Polikoff, PhD  

Leave a comment


  1. Congratulations on the end of a long, winding journey! Wishing you many blessings as you cross this threshold… 🙂

  2. Jim McNamara

     /  February 16, 2018

    Congratulations Becca on reaching this milestone. Having read some of your work on this topic I can only imagine that you will be successful. So mote it be.

    • Thank you so much Jim! I’m so glad to know we are working in the same field of imagination. It’s a wonderful realm to have intellectual community within.

  3. Robbin mcclure

     /  February 26, 2018

    Will this also be on YouTube once completed?

  4. The Zoom meeting did not open. I will assume congratulations are in order (CONGRATULATIONS!) and wait to see if there’s a recording posted!

    • The Zoom meeting will open at 3:00 pm PST when the defense starts. So you do still have a chance to watch it live if you want.

      • For a math major, I surely suck at arithmetic: I tried to spin the Heavens in reverse. Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS, DOCTOR! What a fantastic presentation. Again, I think your thesis should be published ASAP.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: