The Society has hosted a Seminar most summers, usually in June or July, most years since 1986. The date and venue used to vary each time, but it is now usually held in Leeds on the weekend before the start of the International Medieval Congress. Due to the CoVid-19 pandemic, the Society moved the seminar online.
Each Seminar consists of a programme of academic talks and panel discussions on a Tolkien-related theme (these themes are set earlier in the year when the call for papers goes out, and anyone is welcome to prepare a paper).
Afterwards, papers from the seminars are often collected together in a single publication and made available to the wider community.
Sunday 3rd July (Hybrid event) Hilton Hotel, Leeds (Free)
Tolkien’s engagement with the Gothic is not as straightforward as one may assume. His earliest understanding of the word and the language of the Goths can be traced to his reading of Joseph Wright’s A Primer of the Gothic Language (1892). His early fascination with Gothic consequently fed his own experimentations with language creation and legendarium.
However, his prose and poetry show a clear awareness of the Gothic literary tradition that had previously captured the imaginations of eighteenth and nineteenth century writers. Beyond his writing, Gothic influences can be found in Tolkien’s life: from the European fascination with Gothic architecture to the physical and psychological terrors of the Great War.
The seminar aims to explore the ways that Tolkien engaged with the various applications of the Gothic and how this in turn has influenced creative engagements with Tolkien.
Papers may consider, but are not limited to:
- The Gothic literary tradition in Tolkien’s work
- Tolkien’s work with the Gothic language
- Biographical influences of Gothic architecture and the Great War
- The Gothic in Tolkien art and illustrations
- Gothic complexities when translating Tolkien
…. See the full listing here.
The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship. The Society has so far held two seminars in 2021 (Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien and Tolkien and diversity) and their online setting has seen increased interest with over 700 attendees from 52 countries at ‘Tolkien and diversity’. We are delighted to be running 2021’s third and final seminar which will be held online and will be free for all.…
Tolkien’s appeal has led to his fiction and non-fiction being translated into over fifty languages. The art of translation is immensely complex and when discussing the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien himself saw the task as “formidable”, offering his own supportive intervention to achieve a satisfactory result. The author’s invented names and languages prompt the question of how the translator should approach Tolkien’s immense mythology. Recent scholarship has emphasised the need for a wider range of Tolkien’s work to be translated in order for readers to gain a fuller understanding of Arda and the author’s development. But with a wealth of translated texts existing already, this seminar hopes to spark new interpretations about old texts and for unacknowledged translations to be brought to light and examined.
An illustrator of his own work, Tolkien had a keen eye for the visual representation of a text. He admired the work of illustrators such as Pauline Baynes, Cor Blok and Ingahild Grathmer (the Queen of Denmark) and others who illustrated the original English and translated versions of his texts. The manner in which illustrators have engaged with Tolkien’s stories varies dramatically and can often be influenced by culturally specific ideas. This seminar hopes to re-examine renowned illustrations of Tolkien’s work while calling for new or overshadowed illustrations to be discussed.1 session, 11 papers. See the full listing here.
… While interest in the topic of diversity has steadily grown within Tolkien research, it is now receiving more critical attention than ever before. Spurred by recent interpretations of Tolkien’s creations and the cast list of the upcoming Amazon show The Lord of the Rings, it is crucial we discuss the theme of diversity in relation to Tolkien. How do adaptations of Tolkien’s works (from film and art to music) open a discourse on diversity within Tolkien’s works and his place within modern society? Beyond his secondary-world, diversity further encompasses Tolkien’s readership and how his texts exist within the primary world. Who is reading Tolkien? How is he understood around the globe? How may these new readings enrich current perspectives on Tolkien?
Representation is now more important than ever and Tolkien’s efforts to represent (or ignore) particular characteristics requires further examination. Additionally, how a character’s identity shapes and influences its place within Tolkien’s secondary-world still requires greater attention. This seminar aims to explore the many possible applications of “diversity” within Tolkien’s works, his adaptations, and his readership.…4 sessions, 16 papers. See the full listing here.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s name erupted into the twenty-first century with Peter Jackson’s adaption of The Lord of the Rings (2001 – 3), bringing new waves of readers to the Professor’s world of Middle-earth. Since the turn of the millennium, the list of published work by Tolkien has substantially expanded, introducing the public to new material that has since been collected, consumed, and discussed.
In an age of multimedia and social media where fan fiction, film, art, video games, YouTube personalities, celebrities and academia draw Tolkien into the concerns of the twenty-first century, scholarship needs to address how Tolkien has been received over the last twenty years. As Tolkien stated in his letter, he did not write The Lord of the Rings for children; yet they read and appreciate it nonetheless.
This seminar hopes to investigate some pressing questions: Has our image of Tolkien and his works changed? How do new publications of Tolkien’s work inform our understanding of him and his work? Do we currently conceive of Tolkien through an ideological lens? Who is reading and engaging with Tolkien in the twenty-first century and how may their receptions and perceptions of his work deepen our understanding?1 session, 11 papers. See the full listing here.