This paper applies Erving Goffman’s theories of stigma to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin in order to explore the social function of Túrin’s fate throughout the narrative. Interpreting fate as a stigma reveals the role society plays in the tragedy of Túrin’s story through the lens of a social model of disability.
This article focuses on the relationship between philosophy and literature in J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-stories.” Delivered as a lecture in 1939 and published in 1947, the text presents the author’s conception of the literary genre known as “fairy-stories” and, in this article, I explore the possible philosophical and theological mediations and references in Tolkien’s investigation. The objectives of this article are twofold: to highlight the literary theory proposed by Tolkien as part of the philosophical tradition of medieval realism, with conceptual correspondences in Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas; and to demonstrate Tolkien’s original contribution to the appreciation of imagination and fantasy as a form of contemplation. The methodology comprises a comparative bibliographical review of these authors, using both the essay by J.R.R. Tolkien and his personal letters, as well as the books by the above-mentioned philosophers and their contemporary commentators. The conclusion upholds the viability of the connection between the philosophy and mythopoeia conceived by Tolkien as a contemplative way that values the production of myths as a means of admiration of reality from the metaphysical perspective.
Tolkien’s use of specific stars and constellations within his legendarium has been well-studied. There remain two related questions to be tackled: first, why did Tolkien use these specific real-world stars and constellations, and what was behind the seemingly sudden expansion of the celestial population in the legendarium in 1951? Given his well-demonstrated interest in and knowledge of astronomy, Biblical passages that describe the heavens may have piqued his interest and may have influenced his choices of astronomical references in creating Middle-earth. Popularized works published during Tolkien’s youth on the astronomy of the Old Testament may have also played a role in shaping his opinion of these constellations. His final phase of constellation formation (circa 1951) may be related to his work on the Jerusalem Bible.
This conference talk discussed depictions of mining in Tolkien’s legendarium, drawing comparisons to Agricola’s De re metallica. Presented at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., May 11, 2018.
This paper, presented at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference, New Orleans, La., April 3, 2015, surveys Tolkien’s use of the term living rock and related language in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Topics discussed include the origins of the trolls, dwarves, orcs, and ents.