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Tolkien Studies Area: The tenth anniversary!

11 June 2021 | Tolkien on the webRobin Anne Reid

Sometime in 2013, in frustration with what was happening at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, I wrote to the Vice President in charge of the Areas at the Popular Culture Association and asked if the PCA would be interested in my forming a Tolkien Studies Area.

The process for establishing a new subject area is fairly simple. The VP oversees a special session for a year or two, working with the person who is proposing to start and lead the area, and if there is sufficient interest during those years, a new area is formed. Subject areas” at the PCA are the equivalent of sponsoring sessions at Kalamazoo: the content specialist who leads the area is responsible for advertising the conference, reviewing and accepting proposals, organizing the sessions, and generally serving as the primary communication link between the PCA and the presenters.…


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Sometime in 2013, in frustration with what was happening at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, I wrote to the Vice President in charge of the Areas at the Popular Culture Association and asked if the PCA would be interested in my forming a Tolkien Studies Area.

The process for establishing a new subject area is fairly simple. The VP oversees a special session for a year or two, working with the person who is proposing to start and lead the area, and if there is sufficient interest during those years, a new area is formed. Subject areas” at the PCA are the equivalent of sponsoring sessions at Kalamazoo: the content specialist who leads the area is responsible for advertising the conference, reviewing and accepting proposals, organizing the sessions, and generally serving as the primary communication link between the PCA and the presenters.

I served as the Area Chair for the Science Fiction and Fantasy area in the 1990s (at that point, pre-internet, I showed up at the area’s business meetings, did my usual why yes I am an autist but I will talk your ear off about what I love,” and ended up Area Chair when the incumbent decided he wanted to step down. I loved doing it. My previous experience helped, I imagine, and the Tolkien Studies Area was approved after our first year.

Going through my records of the conferences in the wake of the 2021 conference (a virtual one, June 2 – 5), I suddenly realized that we were coming up to the tenth anniversary of the Tolkien Studies area in 2023. While the 2020 conference was cancelled, I’m still counting’ it, and the anniversary is based on the year the area started. I decided to combine the session information from each year and make it available to my area emailing list and also post online for archival purposes!

I’m posting it here in my Tolkien Dreamwidth journal because I have decided to make it my general Tolkien academic space going forward. Now that I’ve finished the move and settled in to Bellingham, I hope to start posting here more regularly!

Behind the cut, eight years of programming on Tolkien Studies, a total of 47 sessions (including paper sessions, roundtables, and business meetings)!

Note: for an occasional paper session, only one or two people are listed. Those are the result of people withdrawing. PCA requires three-four papers be scheduled.

2014 CHICAGO, IL 4 Sessions

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: WAR IN MIDDLE-EARTH

Noms de Guerre: The Power of Naming in War and Conflict in Middle-earth. Janet Croft

Gollum’s Great Chain of Hearing: The Great War and Tolkien’s Last Alliance. Peter Grybauskas

The War Wounded in the Prose Tradition of The Children of Hurin. Margaret Sinex

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: ILLUSTRATIONS & FILMS

Illustration as Translation: Assertion of National Identity in Tove Jansson’s Illustrations of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. M. Lee Alexander

The Disabled Hero: The Ethics of the Wound in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Todd Comer

Ruins and Dreams: Environmental Visions within The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. William Korver

Tolkien and the Multimodal Text: Narrative Transformational Strategies. Janice Bogstad

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: THE MATERIALITY OF MIDDLE-EARTH

Tolkien and Literary Cartography: Spatiality, Fantasy, Modernity. Robert Tally

Constructions of Middle-earth in Tolkien’s Legendarium.Robin Reid \Breaking the Dragon’s Gaze: Revealing Commodity Fetishism in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Steven Kelly

Darkness Amid the Day: Eclipses in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Kristine Larsen

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: COMPLEX HEROES & IDEALS IN TOLKIEN’S LEGENDARIUM

Frodo is Overrated: Why Samwise Gamgee is the True Hero of The Lord of the Rings. Kathryn Allen

The Making of a Hero: Success and Failure of Heroic Characters in Beowulf and The Lord of the Rings. Rachel Syens

Tolkien’s Unfallen Man: Tom Bombadil as an Image of Humanity’s Ideal State. Brian Kenna

Tolkien and the Buddhist influence: thoughts and perspectives. Brad Eden

2015 NEW ORLEANS, LA 8 Sessions

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: LITERARY STUDIES 1

Ore-ganisms’: The Myth and Meaning of Living Rock’ in Middle-earth. Kristine Larsen
Tolkien’s Gimpy Heroes: Trench Fever, Missing Limbs, and the Crippling Long-Term Effects of Injury. Victoria Holtz-Wodzak

Nay, not Níniel’: The Wounded Psyche in the Prose Tradition of The Children of Húrin. Margaret Sinex

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: LITERARY STUDIES 2

Middle-earth’s Eddaic Hierarchy of Music. Megan Whobrey

The Man-Maiden and the Spider with Horns: Galadriel, Shelob, and the Dyamics of Loss and Gender. John Rosegrant

From Folk Tale to Fantasy: J.R.R. Tolkien, Madame D’Aulnoy, and the Evolution of a Literary Form. Rich Cooper

The Name of the Ring: Or, There and Back Again.. Janet Brennan Croft

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: FILM AND LITERARY STUDIES

Forget the Gold: Unpacking Conservative Ideology in Peter Jackson’s Film Adaptations of The Hobbit. Steven Kelly

The Devil’s Due: Sporting Enemies in the Legendarium.Peter Grybauskas

Smith of Wootton Major and Genre Fantasy.David Bratman

Utumno Born and Utumno Bred, Strong in t’Arm and Thick in t’Ead:Who are Tom, Bert and Bill Huggins? Michael Wodzak

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: FILM STUDIES

The Union between The Two Towers and the Twin Towers: Contemporary Audience Reception and the influence of war on The Lord of the Rings. Alicia Fox Lenz

Lineage, Family, and the Absent Mother: Comparing Tolkien’s The Hobbit to Jackson/​Walsh/​Boyens. Janice M. Bogstad,

Extraordinary Orcs: Distorted Bodies in the films of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Jennifer Spirko

Conflicting Audience Receptions of Tauriel in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit
Robin Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 5: CULTURAL STUDIES

Narration and Description: A Marxist Analysis of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Devena Holmes

TOLKIEN STUDIES 6: NEW APPROACHES TO TOLKIEN STUDIES

Preliminary Thoughts On The Library Of Michael H.R. Tolkien. Brad Eden

Tolkien in Context. Quinn Gervel

Storming the Ivory Tower: Tolkien’s Graduate-Program Possibilities.Michael Elam

TOLKIEN STUDIES 7: FAN CULTURE AND THEORY ROUNDTABLE

In a hole in the ground there lived a fangirl’: The Complications of Tolkien, Fandom, and the Hobbit (five participants).

Connected Event: Film Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug.

TOLKIEN STUDIES 8: BUSINESS MEETING

2016 SEATTLE, WA 8 Sessions

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: RECEPTION. THE WORLD HOBBIT PROJECT

There and Back Again: An Unexpected Journey into the Social Media World of The Hobbit.” Doria Baltruschat

The World Hobbit Project: Findings from the International Audience. Study Martin Barker

Cultural Literacy of Tolkien’s The Hobbit in South Korean Audience and Readers. Aryong Choi-Hantke

How Bilbo lost his innocence – Media Audiences and the Evaluation of The Hobbit as a Children’s Film. Lars Schmeink

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: TEACHING TOLKIEN’S MIDDLE-EARTH IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Rebecca Addy, Victoria L. Holtz-Wodzak, Brian Walter, Megan Abrahamson, Robin Reid, Leslie Donovan

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: FANS, TRANSLATIONS, AND ADAPTATIONS

Admirable and Abhorred: (or, Gandalf’s hardly the only Maia in Middle-earth). Maria Alberto

Translating Tolkien into Chinese: Amateur vs. Professional. Xiqing Zheng
Glimpses of lost home in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Owen Barfield. Phillip Fitzsimmons

Where Yellow is White? Lego and The Lord of the Rings. Helen Young

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: ADAPTATION & FILM STUDIES

From Page to Screen: The Rhetoric of Tolkien and Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Nicole Motaharj

In the Arms of the Mountain: Tolkien’s Erebor on Page and Screen. Brian Walter

I Think It’s the Beards: Gender Ambiguity and the Erasure of Femaleness in Middle-Earth . Amanda Wetrick

Comparing the Elves in Tolkien’s Hobbit and the Hobbit Films: A Change in Centrality for Rivendell and Sylvan” Elves. Janice Bogstad

TOLKIEN STUDIES 5: HISTORICAL APPROACHES

Pre-Vatican II Catholicism for Tolkien Scholars 101. Michael Wodzak

Whistle While You Break the Plates. Alicia Fox-Lenz

The enigma of Michael H.R. Tolkien (1920−1984): his life and character. Brad Eden

TOLKIEN STUDIES 6: EDITORS’ ROUNDTABLE

Janice Bogstad, Janet Croft, Leslie Donovan, Brad Eden, Helen Young

TOLKIEN STUDIES 7: THE SILMARILLION

A Deconstructive Reading of Tolkien Criticism with special emphasis on The Silmarillion. Gazala Anver

The Grammar of Myth in The Silmarillion. Robin Reid

What Happened to the Kiss? Love between Men in The Children of Hurin.” Margaret Sinex

TOLKIEN STUDIES 8: INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES

Therapeutic Reading of Bilbo’s The Red Book of Westmarch: The Heroes’ Journey Through Mental Illness. Rebecca Addy

Above All Shadows Rides the Sun”: Redemption and Resurrection in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Jaye Dozier

Rhetoric vs. Witness: Tolkien’s Response to the Language of Conflict. Victoria L. Holtz-Wodzak

2017 SAN DIEGO, CA 6 Sessions

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: 20th CENTURY LITERATURE AND HISTORY

The Real Business of Bilbo; the Dreams of Conan: Sword and Sorcery, Epic Fantasy, and the Rhetoric of the Ordinary. Jason Ray Carney

Strange Bedfellows: Tolkien and Eddison. Peter Grybauskas

There Was a Merry Band of Men, A Gardener, an Invalid, and the Lords Who Loved Them So: The Portrayal of Soldier-Servant Relationships and Their Reflections of War. Alicia Fox-Lenz

Tolkien Underground: Reimagining World War I Bunkers and Tunnels. Victoria L Holtz Wodzak

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: INFLUENCES AND CONNECTIONS

The Dreamflower: Lothlorien in Middle-Earth Space-Time. Brian Walter

Tolkien and Pre-Vatican II Catholicism 101. Michael Wodzak

The Third Spring’: a neglected thread of Tolkien scholarship. Brad Eden

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: TOLKIEN AND ALTERITY

Middle-earth and Medieval Organicism. Kristine Larsen

Marginalization in early 20th-century Britain: Catholics and Protestantism during Tolkien’s lifetime. Brad Eden

Cruising Faery: Queer Desire in Giles, Niggle, and Smith, Stephen Yandell

Race and Tolkien Studies: A Bibliographic Essay Robin Anne Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: FAN STUDIES 1

Deconstructing Durin’s Day: Science in the Service of Fan-Scholars. Kristine Larsen

Lord of the Rings and Fans panel .Maggie Parke

The Hobbit Variations: Publication, Adaptation, and Fan Revision Mikhail Skoptsov

TOLKIEN STUDIES 5 CULTURAL AND FILM STUDIES

The Sacred Nature of Enchantment and Loss: Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit as an Ecotheology of Transformation. Kellianne H Matthews

Wood and Water, Stock and Stone: Rediscovering English Landscapes through Walking. Christopher Cameron

Visually Monstrous: Jackson’s Iconic Revisualizations of Hobbit Heroes and Villains. Janice Bogstad

TOLKIEN STUDIES 6: FAN STUDIES 2

Whispers of a Tenth Walker: Lord of the Rings Fanfiction and Feminine / Feminist Interventions in Middle-Earth. Eva Wijman

Making or Creating: Fans Transforming Orcs. Robin Anne Reid

Bagginshield: An Exploration of Portrayals of Romantic Relationships between Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield in Fanfiction. Sarah Coates

2018 INDIANAPOLIS, IN 7 Sessions

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: VISUAL ADAPTATIONS

Tolkien through the Lens of Alan Lee: Beren and Luthien. Sultana Raza

A Far Green Country: Adapting the Lands of Middle-earth for Gameplay. Alicia Fox-Lenz

Kindling for the Fire: Tolkien and Fantasy Gaming. Peter Grybauskas

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: QUEER TOLKIEN 1

Bending Over with Naked Blade”: The Threat of Male-Male Penetration and Homoeroticism in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Works. Zac Clifton

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum: Jealousy between Men in a Homosocial Setting.
Christopher Cameron

Among Men of War: Destabilization of Gender in The Lord of the Rings’ Faramir and Éowyn. Brooke Petersen

The End is Queer! Voyeurism and Apocalyptic Anxiety in Tolkien. Stephen Yandell

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: ELVES AND FANS

Where Did He Get All Those Wonderful Elves? Tolkien and the Elf Tradition in LotR. Mary Leech

Sansûkh and the Formation of Metafandom: Fanfiction, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit. Sarah Coates

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: POLITICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, AND ARCHIVAL APPROACHES

No Kings No Masters: Tolkien’s Anarchism and the Shire. Huntley Wayne Hughes

Under the Wings of Shadow”: Mental Health and the Price of Civilization in The Lord of the Rings. Hilary Justice

Francis Thompson (1859−1907) and Sub-creation. Brad Eden

TOLKIEN STUDIES 5: QUEER TOLKIEN 2

From the Ashes A Fire is Woken: Queering the Hero’s Journey’.” Melissa Sloat

Contingent Meetings at Helm’s Deep: Disrupting the Heroic Journey in Lord of the Rings through Arwen/​Éowyn Femslash. Eva Wijman

An Incomplete Fellowship: The Exclusion of Queer Women in Tolkien Studies. Robin Anne Reid

and stooping he raised Beleg and kissed his mouth”: Architextuality and Queer Fandom Spaces. Maria Alberto

TOLKIEN STUDIES 6: ON THE FUTURE OF TOLKIEN STUDIES

The Future of Tolkien Research: Thoughts and Visions. Brad Eden.

Bringing Theory Down to Earth: Tolkien’s Universe as a Point of Departure for the Analysis of Contemporary Political Realities. Huntley Hughes

Inhabiting Middle-earth: The immersive world of Tolkien-based Gaming. Alicia Fox-Lenz

Fan Studies. Maria Alberto

Paths and Errands; History and Culture: Hilary Justice

The Need for Intersectional and New Realist Theories of Identity in the 21st Century. Robin Anne Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 7: READING: TOLKIEN FANFICTION

[Open Mic after scheduled readers]

Arrogantemu’s Splintered Light series. Maria Alberto

Sansûkh, by determamfidd. Sarah Coates

Common Tongues,” by Cupidsbow At About Six O’Clock,” by Lobelia
Robin Anne Reid

Late Third Age/​early Fourth Age fic centred on Rohan and Gondor. Eva Wijman

2019 WASHINGTON, D. C. 7 Sessions
TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: ADAPTATIONS OF TOLKIEN’S LEGENDARIUM
The procedural necessity of thematic reversal in video game adaptations of Tolkien’s legendarium. Lindsay Meaning

A Digital Humanities Approach to Genre in Tolkien’s Work. Maria Alberto

Sansûkh As a Lens for the Creation of Fanon and its Intersections with Tolkien’s Canon: A Study of the Sansûkh Fandom. Sarah Coates

Fanfiction’s Hidden City. Dawn Walls-Thumma

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: ENCHANTMENT, HEALING, AND DESPAIR IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS

What Use Is Tolkien? Literary Enchantment And The Uses Of Fantasy Literature. Dennis Friedrichsen

Slowing Down with Tom Bombadil: Restoring Purpose through Reflection. Cale Baker

Denethor’s Sickness Unto Death: Despair as Moral Disease. Craig A Boyd

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: MULTIDISCIPLINARY TOLKIEN STUDIES

Crowns and Crowds: The Importance of the Bodleian’s Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition in Solving an Astronomical Mystery. Kristine Larsen

The Lord of the Zines: Providing Digital Access to Tolkien Fanzines at Marquette. William Fliss

Re-forging the Ring: J. R. R. Tolkien in the Conservative Press, 1965 – 91. Craig N Franson

Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!: Tolkien’s Legendarium. Robin Anne Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: LANDSCAPES IN LEE, TOLKIEN, AND HEMINGWAY

Theories of Omission: Mountains Seen Far Away, Icebergs Right Ahead. Peter Grybauskas

Dulce et decorum: Hemingway, Tolkien, and the Landscapes of Lost Boyhood. Hilary Justice

TOLKIEN STUDIES 5: DIGITAL HUMANITIES AND TOLKIEN PRAXIS ROUNDTABLE

William Fliss, Maria Alberto, Alicia Fox-Lenz„ Sarah Coates

TOLKIEN STUDIES 6: DIGITAL HUMANITIES AND TOLKIEN THEORY ROUNDTABLE

William Fliss, Maria Alberto, Robin Anne Reid, Alicia Fox-Lenz, Sarah Coates

TOLKIEN STUDIES 7: THE FUTURE OF TOLKIEN STUDIES

Kristine Larsen, Lindsay Meaning, William Fliss, Dawn Walls-Thumma, Craig N. Franson

2020, PHILADELPHIA, PA (CANCELLED)

I am listing the presentations that were accepted and scheduled for historical purposes; a number (but not all) of the presenters for this year submitted the same work for 2021 and presented in a virtual format.

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: RACE AND TOLKIEN

Where Shadows Lie”: Middle-earth and Neo-fascist Metapolitics. Craig N. Franson

More Dangerous and Less Wise: Racial Hierarchies and Cultural Difference in Tolkien’s World. Robert Tally

Race in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings And in Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. Robin Anne Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: THE LEGENDARIUM

Turin among the Great Tales. Peter Grybauskas

The Nimrodel and Silverlode: Lothlórien as a Secondary World. Meaghan Scott:

I am no man”: Game of Thrones’ Lyanna Mormont as Borrowed Tolkienian Canonicity. Kristine Larsen:

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: MULTIDISCIPLINARY TOLKIEN

Heroes of the North”: Tolkien and Finnish Fandom. M. Lee Alexander

Elf-Songs and Orc-Talk: Environmental Ethics in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, from Beowulf to Peter Jackson. Amber Lehning:

Rendering Visible An Understanding Of Power In Leadership In Tolkien’s Creation Mythology: Ainulindalë And Akallabêth. James Eric Siburt

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: THE FUTURE OF TOLKIEN STUDIES

Craig N. Franson, Robert Tally, Peter Grybauskas, James Eric Siburt, Amber Lehning, Robin Anne Reid

2021 VIRTUAL (BOSTON, MA) 7 Sessions

TOLKIEN STUDIES 1: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND LEADERSHIP THEORY IN TOLKIEN’S LEGENDARIUM

Elf-Songs and Orc-Talk: Environmental Ethics in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, from Beowulf to Peter Jackson. Amber Lehning

Theories of Leadership in Middle-earth. Michael Joseph Urick

Rendering Visible an Understanding of Power In Leadership in Tolkien’s Creation Mythology: Ainulindalë And Akallabêth. James Eric Siburt

TOLKIEN STUDIES 2: MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES TO TOLKIEN’S LEGENDARIUM

The Nimrodel and Silverlode: Lothlórien as a Secondary World. Meaghan Scott

Tolkien’s Penchant for Alliteration: Using XML to Analyze The Lay of Leithian. Rebecca Power

Tolkien’s New Old English Genre: The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth. Anna Smol

I am no man’: Game of Thrones’ Lyanna Mormont as Borrowed Tolkienian Canonicity. Kristine Larsen

TOLKIEN STUDIES 3: TOLKIEN RECEPTION STUDIES

Cait Coker, Cordeliah G. Logsdony, Dawn Walls-Thumma, Maria Alberto,
Robin Anne Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 4: RACE AND RACISMS IN TOLKIEN’S SECONDARY AND OUR PRIMARY WORLDS

More Dangerous and Less Wise: Racial Hierarchies and Cultural Difference in Tolkien’s World. Robert Tally

Scales Of Malice: The Banal Evil of Middle-earth’s Tyrant-History. Alastair Whyte

Where Shadows Lie’: Middle-earth and Neo-fascist Metapolitics. Craig N. Franson

Race in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings And in Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. Robin Anne Reid

TOLKIEN STUDIES 5: TOLKIEN’S FANDOM

Heroes of the North’: Tolkien and Finnish Fandom. M. Lee Alexander

What care I for the hands of a king?’: Tolkien, Fanfiction, and Narratives of the Self. Cordeliah G. Logsdon

The Pillar and the Vastness: A Longitudinal View of the Tolkien Fanfiction Fandom. Dawn Walls-Thumma

Mathom Economies? Fan Gift Culture and A Tolkien Fic Exchange Event. Maria Alberto

TOLKIEN STUDIES 6: THE FUTURE OF TOLKIEN STUDIES
Craig N. Franson, Rebecca Power, James Siburt , Amber Lehning, Anna Smol, Kristine Larsen

TOLKIEN STUDIES 7: THE COUNCIL OF TOLKIEN STUDIES (BUSINESS MEETING).

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