CHESTERTOWN, MD. – Corey Olsen had a lot to say about J.R.R. Tolkien. But it seemed a pity to consign his thoughts to a scholarly journal, to be read by a few hundred fellow academics who already knew more than enough about the author of “The Lord of the Rings.”

So in spring 2007, the Washington College professor took his scholarship public, with a podcast called “How to Read Tolkien and Why” and a Web site called The Tolkien Professor.

A million downloads later, Olsen is one of the most popular medievalists in America. His unusual path to success – a smartly branded Web site and a legion of iTunes listeners – marks an alternative to the publish-or-perish tradition of scholarship on the tenure track. More..

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