A bit of History from early in the Fourth Age
Introduction to the 3rd Conference on Middle-earth
It's been a while since I chaired the First (1969) and Second (1971) Conferences on Middle-earth. Life got in the way of my plans for a third conference. Years passed. Then a chance meeting, as we say in Middle-earth, brought the idea of holding, finally, the Third Conference On Middle-earth. How could I resist.
So, I call you here to speak of J.R.R. Tolkien, his works, works based on Tolkien and his works, criticism, teaching Tolkien in the classroom, the impact of the books on yourself, friends, family, and/or the world, the films and the film industry, the music, the art, the fannish side of this universe and its impact, and anything and lots more.
This is a gathering where you can sit in the Green Dragon and discuss Elvish or Orcish table manners, if they have any. This is a celebration of Middle-earth, and all that it implies.
Welcome! Enjoy the celebration!
Thain Peregrin Took II
[aka jan howard finder]
3rd Conference On Middle-earth
Schedule of Events
Friday evening, March 25, 2011
Downfall of Sauron Meet 'n Greet in the Green Dragon
For Conference attendees only (no alcohol
Saturday, March 25, 2011
Click on entries to see Abstracts
Welcome to the Attendees
Dinner / Banquet
RINGERS: Lord of the Fans [Free and open to the public]
The Little Middle Earth Project In Spain
- John Bentley
The project was first conceived in 2003 when the scenery of the Sierra Norte region was observed by two Tolkien fans to coincide within 60% of the maps of Middle Earth.
Accordingly, they decided to create a project for a smaller version of Middle Earth, embracing an area triangular in shape measuring 60 kilometres at the base and 40 kilometres along each side, with the apex in the mountains, and containing the principal locations of the Journey of the Ring, so that all Tolkien fans would be able to go there to visit, live, work or study as Hobbits, Elves Dwarves, or Men.
The region is still unspoiled and has mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and farmland (much of which is still worked in the old way). Traditional rural trades are still practiced.
The Surrender of Glory
- Reverend Mike Frank
Middle-earth is, at the time of our story, a terrible and magnificent place. It is fraught with danger and filled with glory. There are, in the midst of a green glory, black holes of such malice that all the glory of Middle-earth is threatened with destruction or mindless slavery.
The trek of the Fellowship (especially the trek of Sam and Frodo) involves moments of tasting great glory and the casting off (or leaving) of this glory to accomplish the destruction of that threatening darkness.
In my paper I hope to describe the green glory that is Middle-earth and the repetitive (i.e. steadfast) surrendering of this glory for the sake of the trek (i.e. for the sake of a greater good).
Included in this description will be reference to the movie A Man For All Seasons, as the rhythm of the casting off of glory for the sake of a greater good (indeed, a greater glory) provides the "basso profundo" for this movie.
Also, limning this description will be a brief analysis of Tolkien's notion of evil.
Finally, I will hope to make some comments, in light of all that has been said, about the relationship of Tolkien's faith to his sub-creation of Middle-earth.
Between Literature and Movies, Package Tours and the Imagination: A Slide-Lecture Adventure into New Zealand as Middle-earth
- Ethan Gilsdorf
As filming for Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" finally begins Down Under this spring, it's the perfect time to visit Middle-earth again and explore the enduring appeal of Lord of the Rings-themed tourism in New Zealand. Follow Ethan Gilsdorf, author of "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms," on this slide show of his adventure to visit as many of the New Zealand filming locations of the Lord of the Rings as possible in three weeks. From Rivendell to Hobbiton, Helm's Deep to Mordor, you'll encounter hobbits, sheep, rental cars, action figures and rabid fans who all figure prominently in this geekiest of quests to find Middle-earth in the real world. We'll also discuss the latest filming rumors and stories, and get a sneak preview of the latest images from "The Hobbit" location shoots. Come and hear stories of quests and fantasies to find that world between literature and movies, package tours and the imagination.
Christian Platonic elements in J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium
- Jyrki Korpua
This abstract discusses some of the Christian Platonic elements in J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium. My main argument and objective, is constructing a reading of Tolkien's legendarium as part of the Christian Platonic tradition. I do this by reading Tolkien's text against the tradition, showing how the Legendarium is in its chosen elements idea historically connected to the Christian Platonic.
I survey three chosen parts of Tolkien's Legendarium that have – in my point of view – Christian Platonic elements. First I discuss the cosmology of Tolkien's The Silmarillion against the background of Plato's Timaeus. I am mainly focusing on the cosmogony, how the world is created on two levels.
Secondly I discuss the similarities between Plato's myth of the Atlantis in the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, and Tolkien's story of Númenor in The Silmarillion.
Thirdly I compare Tolkien's Legendarium's theme of invisibility, with Plato's myth of The Ring of Gyges from The Republic. I'm trying to show that Tolkien's ring-theme is not solely deriving from Germanic and Scandinavian myths and fairy-stories, but may have some mythological backgrounds in Plato and in the Christian Platonic tradition. Tolkien's theme of invisibility has similarities in Plato not only in regards of the two levels of Plato's ontology (levels of the ideal and changeable world), but also on the level of myth and morality.
"Alone Between the Dark and Light": "The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun" and Lessons From the Later Legendarium
- Kristine Larsen
Tolkien's Catholicism is indisputably important in understanding fundamental aspects of the legendarium. Not only is Tolkien's writing informed by basic tenets of his faith, but also by its prohibitions and taboos. An interesting example is the Church's long-time stance against occult practices and superstitions. Tolkien's Catholic intolerance for such beliefs could easily explain why Tolkien was not able to follow the lead of his friend C.S. Lewis and include astrology as a plot device in his writings.
In J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, Tom Shippey explored this tension between personal belief and artistic license (as applied to fiction set in a pre-Christian society), using as one of his examples Tolkien's version of "The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun," an alliterative rhymed poem based on various Celtic and Norse sources. Shippey notes that Tolkien's main original contribution to the tale is "a heavy weight of faith." In Tolkien's lay, a childless Lord invokes the occult influence of a witch – a Corrigan – in the form of a magic potion in order to conceive twins with his Lady wife. Tolkien successfully turns the cautionary tale from one of the dangers of infidelity to one's spouse to one of the dangers of infidelity to one's faith – infidelity in one's relationship with God through discourse with the occult. This same lesson is repeated throughout Tolkien's legendarium, in writings which postdate this lay. This paper will trace this thread from the Lay through Tolkien's later legendarium.
Gondor Needs No King: Images of Kingship in the Ramayana and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
- Emily A Moniz
In religious literature, the form of the epic is one of the most common across cultures, cropping up all over the globe and at many different points in the historical narrative. Scholars of religion, anthropology, and sociology have devoted a great deal of ink to understanding epics as individual moments as well as a larger, more universal form. The epic, it seems, is the constant human companion, and within the epic, one can see religious values, cultural ideals, and social archetypes as they function in their given contexts.
The epic, then, reveals a great deal about what qualities are essential in archetypal images and how they resonate within a culture. This occurs in both ancient epics with no clear author as well as in modern ones, written consciously (and some might say, self-consciously) in response to cultural norms and values. In this paper, I intend to look at an archetype present in two vastly disparate epics in order to examine what it is about epics that preserves and transmits cultural values surrounding said archetype and its associated meanings. I shall compare portions of the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, with JRR Tolkien’s fantasy saga, The Lord of the Rings, and examine the notion of kingship in both. What is a king? What makes him recognizable as such? Are there innate qualities of kingship that echo across cultural boundaries? And is an ancient Indian king all that different from a Gondorian one?
Blondes Have More Fun!: Images of Legolas Greenlea
- Sarah K Navin
Enigmatic, ethereal, beautiful and strong, Tolkien's elves serve as the basis for elves we see in most contemporary fantasy literature, setting a new standard for the way that elves are written and perceived. However, even these perceptions can be altered by current media, and by the force of a fandom that absorbs and experiences these alterations over time.
Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, member of the great Fellowship of the Ring is one such elf whose image has been altered, both by Peter Jackson's film trilogy, and by fans, who take their mental image from the films and run with it, creating works of 'fanfiction', including roleplaying games, in which the character of Legolas may be written in a variety of ways, influenced largely more by Jackson's depiction than by Tolkien's texts.
There are more common internet 'fanons' (fan interpretations of canon that are widely accepted) that surround Legolas than any other member of the Fellowship. What gives rise to these 'fanons' surrounding his mystery, and what is the real story? How does a character such as Legolas evolve from page, to screen, to the minds and hearts of fans as a whole? How, and why does fandom shape this image and what are the effects that fan interpretations have on Tolkien's original text?
My readers are about to find out!
"Beyond All Towers Strong and Tall": Hobbits, Pilgrimage, and Lay Piety in JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
- Kari Ortiz
In the Middle Ages, one of the most important forms of religious expression available to lay people was the pilgrimage. A pilgrimage, with the associated indulgences, was a way to release one's self or significant others from the burdens of sin. A pilgrimage was seen as a particularly efficacious way to deal with unresolved spiritual issues for both the individual and the community. Part of this process involved removing oneself from their native context, journeying to another place and facing adversity and difficulty out of love for God, and then returning home and integrating those experiences of pilgrimage into daily life.
In The Lord of the Rings, Samwise becomes a kind of pilgrim on the Ring Quest. Through his trials on the Quest, he functions as a model of the pilgrim within Middle-earth, carrying burdens not of his own making, encountering sacred difficulties and resolutions, and coming into contact with a spirituality outside his social norm. He then manages to bring those experiences home to the Shire and successfully translates his sacred life into his profane world. He does this without concern for himself, but rather, the good of Middle-earth, of the Shire, and Frodo, an altruistic motivation and arguably, one of overarching spiritual caritas. In this, Sam seems to be a model of medieval pilgrimage. Do Samwise's struggles, spirituality, and successes put him on a pilgrim's path through Middle-earth? Does Sam reflect a model of piety for Tolkien that he intended to hold up for modern Catholics?
Through Morgoth's Eyes: Truth in Wartime
- Dr. Faye Ringel
That truth is the first casualty in war has become a cliché, beginning with World War I, Tolkien's war. Scholars such as Shippey, Croft, and Garth have confirmed the centrality of the First and Second World Wars in Tolkien's life and in the development of his mythology for England. But Tolkien did not only survive the Somme; he survived the aftermath of the Great War: the doubts, disillusionment, the revulsion against "merchants of Death." He lived to see the Shadow return and take shape anew, and to see Britain changed irrevocably.
Versions of the The Children of Hurin, culminating in Christopher Tolkien's 2007 redaction, span much of the twentieth century: the matter of Turin Turambar, according to Christopher, concerned his father to the end of his life. One significant passage that persists contains Morgoth's punishment for the defiant Hurin, "therefore with my eyes you shall see and with my ears you shall hear" (65). Such torment creates tragic irony: like Hurin, we auditors of an epic know the story before we see it happen. We are privy to the multiple identities of Turin, we see his mistakes, and, like Hurin, we are powerless to stop them.
Outside the universe of the text, the lies, re-examinations, and repudiations of Middle-earth's wars and warriors may recall the reinterpretations of the truths of the Great War—and later wars in Vietnam and Iraq. While avoiding allegory, I hope to demonstrate the applicability of this post-modern text to a century of "wartime."
was born in England in 1935, had a extremely free boyhood during the 2nd World War, could drive a car and a steam shunting locomotive by the time that he was nine years old, survived various air-raids unscathed and had several trips up on test flights in DC3s and B17s (by kind courtesy of the local USAAF base).
He did not appreciate peacetime in the new socialist Britain very much, as he had to go to a state school, conform to bureaucratic norms, and put up with a dull life. Things looked up when he entered Clark's College in London and got even better when his uncle and aunt started taking him to sea with them during the holidays.
His studies eventually qualified him in English and Mechanical Engineering, and after his military service he worked at sea until he married. Then he worked ashore in the Research and Development department of a Sussex company until the children were grown up and independent before going back to sea, where he worked in the charter business, firstly in British home waters, but later in the Mediterranean, working out of Sete (Rousillon, France), and then out of Port de la Selva and Port Lligat (both in Girona, Catalunya). He established the Mediterranean charter line with his Catalan partner Frederic Caminada, and was the owner and master of the ship MFV767 for a total of eleven years.
In the year 2000 he retired from the sea and moved to Madrid with his second wife Angeles. A keen Tolkien fan since 1970, he joined the Little Middle Earth Project (Proyecto Pequeña Tierra Media) as Project Engineer in 2005 and also handled much of those affairs of the Project which involve the English-speaking nations.
He has travelled quite extensively in Europe, North Africa, the United States and Mexico. His primary sports at college were fencing and rugby football, and he has always been a keen rifle and pistol shot. He shot with the Federacion Madrileña de Tiro Olympico from 2002 till 2006 in the Historical Arms section with a Colt Navy Model of 1860 (Old Justin), until failing eyesight and muscular control adversely affected his scores (don't get old, stupid!).
He has three children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandaughter, and his ambition is to see the Little Middle Earth Project come properly to life and get going.
Kara (Haff) Conner
got hooked on Middle-Earth as a youngster and is considered a Lord of the Rings addict by friends, family and herself. She has lost count of the number of times she's re-read the four "main" books, though when she was 16 years old she was already at over 60 readings.
Kara is a published poet and novice writer. Lord of the Rings has been involved in most of her life-changing events; most significantly, meeting jan finder [aka Pippin] at a LOTR reading who then introduced her to science fiction and fantasy conventions. jan brought her to the Con where she met the man she would eventually marry. An online LOTR chatroom even introduced Kara to her best friend, a resident of Western Australian.
Kara enjoyed the movies, but always returns to the source material for "the best" version; and for non-readers, she recommends the BBC radio plays.
Reverend Mike Frank
was born in Akron, Ohio in 1943. His father, who once was a professional golfer, was a foreman at General Tire. His mother was a housewife. At the age of six he moved with his parents and brother and sister to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and there discovered the glory of ponds and creeks, frogs and butterflies. He played football for three years and was probably the worst player even to don a Cuyahoga Falls High School uniform. But the hard work of practice was a good experience.
He went to Bethany College, graduating in 1965 with a BS in Chemistry, and, then, to Yale Divinity School, graduating in 1968. In May of 1968 he married Kay Ellen Burdette. They moved to Cleveland, Ohio where she was an outstanding Ophthalmologist. He pastured a small inner-city church in Cleveland. They both retired in 2010, and, God willing, will live in Pipestem, West Virginia during retirement.
is the Somerville, Massachusetts-based author of the award-winning travel memoir/pop culture investigation "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms," now in paperback. Among many other adventures into fantasy and gaming subcultures, "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming" details his Lord of the Rings pilgrimage to Middle-earth (New Zealand) and Tolkien's home of Oxford, England. Gilsdorf also publishes travel, arts, and pop culture stories regularly in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and other magazines and newspapers worldwide. His blog "Geek Pride" is seen regularly on PsychologyToday.com; he contributes to Tolkien fansite TheOneRing.net, ForcesOfGeek.com and Tor.com; has been a frequent guest on talk radio and TV; and speaks at numerous conventions such as Pax East, GenCon, and DragonCon as a fantasy and escapism expert. He watches the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year, and plays with his dice whenever he can. You can follow his adventures (and read more about the book) here: http://www.fantasyfreaksbook.com
(b.1977) is a literary researcher and lecturer who currently work for the University of Oulu, Finland.
He is specialized in speculative fiction, literary history and graphic novels. Korpua wrote his master's thesis in 2005 on Christian Platonic and Other Mythological Elements in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion (Oulu University Press).
He is currently writing his doctoral dissertation on Tolkien and articles on literary historical collections.
Korpua is a member of board of the Society for Cultural Studies in Finland, vice president of the writing society Huutomerkki [exclamation mark in Finnish] and president of Finnish Amici Librorum–organization.
is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Central Connecticut State University.
The author of Stephen Hawking: A Biography and Cosmology 101, and co-editor of The Mythological Dimensions of Doctor Who, her scholarly work focuses on the intersections between science and society, including the history of science, science and popular culture, science and pseudoscience, science education, and gender and science.
Her work on science and popular culture has resulted in presentations and publications on such varied literary, film, and televisual sources as Lost, Doctor Who, Land of the Lost, the Harry Potter series, children's time travel films, and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
She has developed and taught a number of interdisciplinary university–level courses, including Science and Science Fiction, The Science of Middle-earth, Science and Pseudoscience, Women's Contributions to Science, and most recently Seeing the 20th Century Through Undead Eyes: Zombies and Modern Western Culture.
has been active in Science Fiction Fandom since 1955 starting the Hugo winning fanzine, NIEKAS, in 1962. He read LotR in 1961 and life has never been the same.
In 1964 he decided to devote a portion of each issue of NIEKAS to the subject, including both Al haLevy's GLOSSARY OF MIDDLE EARTH as well as Robert Foster's glossary of LOTR terms.
Ed joined the new Tolkien Society of America soon after its founding.
In 1967 Ed took over publishing the TOLKIEN JOURNAL from Dick Plotz, the founder of the TSA. Ed published both the TJ and NIEKAS thru 1972 when he became blind. The TJ is now published by the Mythopoeic Society.
Under Ed the TSA held three meetings a year, a Yule Moot in NY City, a meeting at the Boskone SF convention in Boston, and at the World SF Convention Labor Day weekend. This brought many young Tolkien fans into SF fandom, and some regular SF fen into Tolkien fandom.
He published his last issue of NIEKAS, #46, several years ago. He also occasionally does a small personal fanzine, THE VIEW FROM ENTROPY HALL, by email only, which he will send free to any interested persons.
Emily A Moniz
is a doctoral student at the Catholic University of America in the School of Theology and Religious Studies, studying Religion and Culture.
She received her BA in Religion at Susquehanna University (Selinsgrove, PA) and her MA in American Studies at Hood College (Frederick, MD). Her academic interests include Catholic history, American studies, funerary practices, and religion and culture in New Orleans.
Her latest works include a presentation on Augustinian concepts of evil in The Silmarillion at the University of Iowa and ongoing revision of a paper on the cult of St Roch as a response to disease and cultural crisis, amongst many other things.
earned her Master's degree in Literature, with a concentration on Medieval Literature from Eastern Michigan University in 2008, and has been a Tolkien fan since 2001, when a certain movie, and a certain elf, inspired her to read The Lord of the Rings for the first time, and sparked a lasting obsession with Middle Earth and its people.
Sarah currently works as an instructor of English at Jackson Community College in Jackson Michigan and moonlights as a writing tutor for the Online tutoring service Smarthinking. When she is not teaching writing or literature, she enjoys reading and writing, especially fantasy and science fiction, which have played a huge role in her life since "discovering" Tolkien and his world.
is a senior at Goddard College (Plainfield, VT), where she is studying medieval history with an emphasis on women's history and medieval religion in the Individualized Studies program.
Her other interests include Anglo-Norman and Angevin female lordship, early Irish Christianity, the cult of St. Katherine of Alexandria, and the Anarchy of King Stephen. Her previous projects include a paper on comparisons between druid and file heroes, and St. Patrick in early Irish hagiography.
Her current projects include her senior thesis on female lordship in 12th century England. Upon graduation in August 2011, she intends to continue her medieval studies at the graduate level.
Dr. Faye Ringel
recently was honored with the title Professor Emerita of Humanities by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT, where she had taught English and interdisciplinary Humanities courses since 1985; she remains a consultant to the Academy Honors Program.
Her doctorate in Comparative Literature is from Brown University, Providence, RI; her B.A. is from Brandeis University, Waltham MA.
In addition to Tolkien, she has published on Gothic literature, the Middle Ages, and modern medievalism; she is the author of New England's Gothic Literature: History and Folklore of the Supernatural (Mellen, 1995).
Dr. Ringel has been scholar in residence at the University of Canberra, Australia and at Charles University in Prague, as well as International Scholar Guest of Honor at the New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention. A regular presenter on Tolkien at the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress, she has twice been a visiting scholar for the NEH-sponsored Tolkien Institutes at Texas A&M, Commerce.
A Tolkien fan since the 1960s, she continues to be attend and appear on the program at conventions including BOSKONE, ReaderCon, the World Science Fiction Convention, and the Connecticut Mythopoeic Society conference. She resides in the house in which she grew up in Norwich, Connecticut.
Thain Peregrin Took II (aka jan howard finder)
I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in 1964. However, I did fail in my attempt to meet Professor Tolkien in the summer of '64 so I could tell him in person how much I enjoyed the books.
I was entranced. I soon got involved with the 1st wave of Tolkien fandom. I was privileged to meet most of the makers and shakers of American Tolkien Fandom. I had a delightful hour chatting with W. H. Auden about hobbits.
I needed a stronger fix of Tolkien so I chaired the 1st and 2nd Conferences On Middle-earth.
Then off to Europe for 5 years where I met a number of the Tolkien fans in the UK and on the Continent.
I loved the films and joined a Tour of Middle-earth in '04. Marvelous. I led a similar tour in '06. If Varda smiles on us, I'll be joining "The Return of the Tour" in late '12 to visit Middle-earth and attend the premiere of "The Hobbit, Part 1."
I reread The Hobbit and TLOTR each year and watch PJ's TLOTR on the Saturday closest to 22 September.
Eric M. Van
was a 2010 World Fantasy Award nominee (Special Award, Non-Professional) for his work as co-CEO and Program Chair of Readercon. He was database manager for the Philip K. Dick Society and his opinions on PKD have appeared in ¬The New York Review of Science Fiction—but the author whose complete works nearly fill the bookcase beside his bed is not Dick, but Tolkien. And despite his 25-year involvement in Readercon, every post at his blog (ericmvan.livejournal.com) is about movies (he sees 40-50 new releases a year) and television. The Lord of the Rings is both his favorite book and (despite its myriad and obvious flaws) favorite movie. In the marginally more real world, he is an online statistical baseball analyst. He lives in Watertown, Mass.