2021: St Anne’s College, Oxford, & on-line


3 September 2021 08:15 utc — view in local time


    № 1: Dark places of Middle-earth

    Mina Lukić

    The terrain, landscapes, architecture, and atmosphere of Middle-earth locations mostly correspond to the events that take place there and tell us more about their inhabitants, including the antagonists. This paper investigates grim, austere, and dangerous places of Middle-earth, built or transformed by the forces of evil and governed by the lust for power. Relying on Tolkien’s descriptions and illustrations, the paper discusses the tunnels of Goblin-town and Moria, Orthanc and Isengard, Dol Guldur and Mirkwood, Cirith Ungol and Minas Morgul, Barad-dûr and Mordor. In addition to Tolkien’s vision, their artistic portrayal is considered, especially the art of Alan Lee and John Howe. Although they may possess a certain aesthetic appeal in visual media, dark places of Middle-earth are menacing and gloomy, usually depicted with sharp edges, Gothic, spiky forms, uncomfortable angles, grand but creepy and aggressive structures endowed with an aura of malice, cruelty, terror, and oppression.

    № 2: A modest witness in Middle-earth: Reading the intersection between J.R.R. Tolkien and Donna Haraway

    Sara Brown, Chair of Faculty, Signum University

    In her work Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_​Meets_​OncoMouse™, Donna Haraway examines cultural representations of scientific discovery, taking the reader on a textual & visual journey through a technoscientific world. In the process, she criticises conventional scientific objectivity, which is grounded in an ideal of the scientist as neutral or value-free; an invisible’ modest witness who merely reflects the results from scientific experimentation but is not reported upon themselves. Tolkien’s modest witnesses’, who see, then report, so that others may know, also complicate the boundary between knower & knowing, as they are often actively aware of playing a part within a narrative. This paper uses Haraway’s theory of the modest witness to explore the ways in which Tolkien references songs, tales, & the oral tradition of storytelling to underline the importance of being not just a witness to events, but an active participant in their reframing as historical narrative.

    № 4: The Second Age: Everything from Aldarion to Amazon

    SR Westvik

    The 2020s are seeing a resurgence of interest in the Second Age, in many ways because of the upcoming TV series. Join in for an informal discussion about the Second Age, where we’ll chat about everything from Aldarion to Amazon, sharing our thoughts about lore, interpretation, and adaptation. Do come with a willingness to share openly, listen respectfully, and engage in good faith with your fellow Tolkien fans!

    № 5: Fantasy lockdown

    Jay Johnstone

    Jay’s unique and fresh approach to Middle-earth astounded everyone at Return of the Ring conference in 2012 and has since gone from strength to strength. He has exhibited, spoken & been guest of honour at Tolkien & Fantasy events across the UK, Europe & the US. His art can be seen in Museums & collections worldwide. As well as his own books, his illustrations also adorn the covers of Tolkien writers. He founded the sci​fi​fan​ta​synet​work​.com and also runs HJMS an award winning marketing agency.

    № 6: Tolkien, the Eucatastrophe, and fighting the Long Defeat in the face of tragedy

    Gee Rennison, Postgraduate student, University of Glasgow

    The existence of grief underpins many key chapters in The Silmarillion. This paper examines the multifaceted way Tolkien includes grief, from its part within the creation story of the Ainulindale and the role of Nienna, through the lens of the eucatastrophe — the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy’, and the long defeat’. Grief is found to be part of creation, a healer, and punishment within The Silmarillion. Most importantly it is almost wholly synonymous with beauty and strength. Through the interweaving of Tolkien’s fictional writing and his own neologism of the eucatastrophe’ I examine the lessons of strength we can learn, especially during times of great upheaval such as now. To learn through Grief is to better yourself — as taught through Nienna. To not submit to it and to let beauty arise out of it is key, allowing us to combat the long defeat’ in our daily lives. What can be learnt in grief and the eucatastrophe, we can translate to our own experience.

    № 8: Alan Lee’s talking landscapes

    Sultana Raza, independent scholar

    This paper will examine how landscapes are alive, and play an essential role in Alan Lee’s illustrations. Forests reflect the atmosphere, or mood of the story at a particular moment. While retaining their natural shape, volume, and lines, caves or underground tunnels are re-worked and re-designed to become habitable, and represent the beings inhabiting them. Though Nature has encroached upon them, left-over ruins tell the story of an earlier age. Open vistas talk as much about the world, and culture of that place, as about the story unfolding at that time/​era. Dramatic moments are captured in natural surroundings that reflect the mood of that moment. Nature is not just the backdrop in Alan Lee’s illustrations, but helps to provide the history of the place, tells the tale, moves the plot forward, and gives clues as to the potential outcome of the story.

    № 9: Some notes on Barad-dûr


    How high was the Dark Tower? is a question that has been discussed in the Society’s Facebook group. I take a look at what we know or can surmise about Sauron’s stronghold.

    № 10: Leadership in Middle-earth: The influence of Tolkien’s faith

    Michael Joseph Urick, Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence, Saint Vincent College

    As a devout Catholic, Tolkien’s writing is heavily influenced by his faith. His writing also contains many examples of both positive and negative leadership behaviors and traits. Characters from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that are positive leaders are viewed to make ethical decisions. Tolkien likely viewed ethical decisions to be those that adhere to a set of virtues fundamental to his religious beliefs. One such widely known set of virtues is the Cardinal Virtues. The Cardinal Virtues include prudence (judging things wisely), justice (promoting fairness and human rights), fortitude (using courage and determination to guide actions), and temperance (restraining personal desire and passion) (Richert, 2019). In Middle-earth, good leaders achieve results that benefit a group in a moral manner, and they do so by modeling the Cardinal Virtues. This presentation will draw from examples of and comparisons between leaders in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

    № 11: Tolkien in translation: A panel

    Martha Celis Mendoza, independent scholar; Alicia Matz; Marcel Aubron-Bülles; José Manuel Ferrández Bru, independent scholar; César Octavio Martínez Benavidez; and Arden Smith

    Tolkien’s works have been translated into a wide variety of languages. As a translator of several pieces from Old and Middle English himself, we can see from some of Tolkien’s letters to his editors that he had given serious consideration to how his work should be translated, especially in the case of names, and particularly in those languages he was most familiar with. Join us in this panel, where translators, as well as Translation Studies scholars, will discuss the challenges of translating the works of JRR Tolkien, how the translations to different languages have been assessed, the need for retranslations on a periodic basis, as well as the strategies behind the translation of Tolkien criticism.

    № 13: The Tolkien Experience Podcast

    Luke Shelton; Sara Brown, Chair of Faculty, Signum University; and SR Westvik

    The Tolkien Experience podcast won the 2020 Tolkien Society Award for best online content. The hosts of the podcast, Sara, Sarah, and Luke, host a live conversation and take questions from the audience. They will be joined by some past guests from the show, so it will be a lively session with many names you may recognize!

    № 14: The influence of J.R.R. Tolkien on Kentaro Miura: How Lord of the Rings helped inspire Berserk

    Minna Nizam

    In this paper, I argue that Lord of the Rings has a major impact on Kentaro Miura’s Berserk — I analyze the similarities between Tolkien’s text and Miura’s Berserk panels. I dissect how the themes of good and evil are similar and the ways in which Miura borrowed from Lord of the Rings, in order to create his own original creatures. Importantly, I look at the hero’s journey throughout Lord of the Rings, and how these themes are reflected throughout Berserk. Kentaro Miura’s interviews, where he discusses his inspiration for Berserk, will be taken into account. Miura recently passed away, and left a legacy as deep and intense as Tolkien did. My work, marries the two greats together, and analyzes how they are similar, the ways Tolkien influenced Miura, and what other sources the two authors took inspiration from.

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