Saturday, September 10, 2005

Notes for Tolkien fans

I haven't quite finished reading my book of today, so I'll save blogging it for tomorrow and instead mention a couple of Tolkien-related things. First of all, I mentioned last week that the Proceedings of the Tolkien Society Seminar 2004 are now available. You can purchase Tolkien, Influenced and Influencing: Proceedings of the Seventeenth Tolkien Society Seminar from, but it will cost you an extra £2 to do so, therefore, if you're not in a hurry for them, hang on and the Tolkien Society will be selling the booklet via its own website. The contents of the booklet are as follows:

Alison Milbank: 'Tolkien and the Gift'

Maggie Fernandes: 'The Theory of names in The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien'

Michele Fry: 'The Influence of Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings on Women Fantasy Authors'

Colin Duriez: 'Some light on Tolkien and C S Lewis: a mutual influence'

Paul Kerry: 'The Idea of Influence, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Catholicism": A Historian's Perspective'

Nataliya Oryshchuk: 'Some Aspects of Tolkien's reception in post-Soviet Culture'

Jessica Yates: 'Fantasy films before and after Peter Jackson'

My paper covered aspects of Tolkien's influence on three women authors: Robin Hobb (the portrayal of magical addiction), Robin McKinley (the literary descendants of Eowyn the Shieldmaiden) and J K Rowling (the use of dreams as a narrative device).

The other Tolkien-related item I wanted to share, is the online course which is going to be run at Cardiff University: The Foundations of Middle-earth: Myth, Language and Ideology in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Literature. This will examine Tolkien’s awareness of northern European mythologies, and languages, as well as other aspects of his scholarly background, such as anthropology and archaeology, and how he used them creatively in writing his fantasy literature, ie. The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Topics will include:
'A Mythology for England':Tolkien's 'mythological project' will be examined within the framework of the nineteenth-century revival of northern European mythologies, as well as the search of national identity in pre-World War I England, the later being often associated with England’s Anglo Saxon past.
'Northern European Myths and Legends: the Celtic and Literary Tradition': The lecture will mainly concentrate on two of Tolkien’s sources which he vigorously refuted or declared to have despised: the Celtic material, including the Arthurian legend, and the Shakespearean tradition.
'Tolkien's Invented Languages: 'A Secret Vice': This lecture will focus on Tolkien’s language creation. Exploring the relationships of language invention and myth-making and going through the actual process through which Tolkien made the Middle-earth languages.

The reading suggestions for the course are: The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Humphrey Carpenter's Tolkien: a Biography (London: Allen and Unwin, 1977), Tolkien The Medievalist edited by Jane Chance (Routledge, 2003), and Tom Shippey's J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (London: HarperCollins, 2001) and The Road to Middle-Earth (London: Allen and Unwin, 1982)

Thanks to my almost obsessive Tolkien reading last summer, I've read all but the Jane Chance volume (although I did read one of the chapters from it). I would love to be able to participate on this course, not least because my reading of Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls, and Katherine Langrish's Troll Fell and Troll Mill have reignited the interest I felt two years ago in the influences on Tolkien's work, which led me to reading various Scandinavian sagas (not to mention the Finnish Kalevala, which I also read last year). If anyone signs up for the course, I'd love to hear about it.

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