The invisible other: Tolkien’s Dwarf-women and the feminine lack’

— Sara Brown, Chair of Faculty, Signum University

Paper given 3 July 2021 at Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021: Saturday session № 1

Female Dwarves, or Dwarf-women, are notably absent from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. Throughout the histories of the Dwarves, including the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, Dwarf-women are mostly unseen figures, featured only in relation to the male Dwarves, and never encountered in the narratives themselves. Unable to construct their own identity other than that of not being male, the only distinctiveness offered to Tolkien’s Dwarf-woman is fashioned through simple biology: they are female and may bear children.

Reading Tolkien through Julia Kristeva, Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler, this paper posits that Tolkien’s female Dwarves are the invisible women’ of the legendarium, exploring their marginalisation and their consequent situating as the abject Other.’

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date recorded 📅2021-08-13
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