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A modest witness in Middle-earth: Reading the intersection between J.R.R. Tolkien and Donna Haraway

— Sara Brown, Chair of Faculty, Signum University

Paper given 3 September 2021 at 2nd day of Oxonmoot 2021

In her work [email protected]_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.

Authoritative information may be found here.

permalink 🔗︁ https://tolkienists.org/00i0/
source URL 🌐Oxonmoot 2021
date recorded 📅2021-09-02
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