Tolkien CFPs for Kalamazoo 2019

The CFP for the 54th International Congress of Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo has been published, so it is high time that I post about all eight (yes, you read that right, eight!) of the Tolkien sessions planned for the upcoming event!

I will start with the panels from the Tales After Tolkien Society (they get premier billing here because I am the VP!)

Tales After Tolkien Society Panels

The first session, a paper session titled The Legacy of Tolkien’s Medievalism in Contemporary Works, will examine the continuing italestitnfluence of J.R.R. Tolkien on conceptions of the Middle Ages and medieval prevalent in academic and popular cultures. As has been amply attested, Tolkien’s medievalist work in his Middle-earth corpus has exerted an outsized influence on subsequent fantasy and medievalist popular culture, and, following Paul B. Sturtevant’s assertions in The Middle Ages in Popular Imagination, it is largely or chiefly through popular cultural engagement with the materials that people—both the general public and those who become the students and scholars of the medieval—develop their early understandings of the Middle Ages. Decades on, Tolkien’s influence on popular culture—books, yes, but also movies, tabletop games, video games, television series, music, and other elements of popular understanding—continues to be felt, and continued examination of that influence is therefore warranted.

The second session, a paper session titled Afterlives of Medieval Religion in Contemporary Works, will look at how the post-Tolkien works that are the Society’s focus appropriate and misappropriate medieval religious constructions. That formal religion was a central element of the European medieval, broadly conceived, is a conventional wisdom that is reflected both in the typical programming of the Congress and in the pages of Speculum, among others—yet many medievalist works, particularly those in mainstream popular culture, neglect or shy away from overt religiosity, or else they invoke it partially and only to specific effects, and in ways that do not appear to align well to the functions of the medieval church. Untangling the uses, misues, and avoidances of a key element of medieval culture in works that purport to be medieval or medievalist in their intent bears examination, and papers in the proposed session would be directed to those ends.

(The panel descriptions I am posting here were previously posted on the society blog)

To submit to either of these panels, contact the President of the society, Geoffrey B. Elliott here.

The Tolkien at Kalamazoo group is sponsoring three panels.

  1. Tolkien and medieval constructions of race. Paper session.
  2. Tolkien and temporality: medieval constructions of time. Paper session.
  3. Misappropriation of Tolkien’s medievalism. Roundtable.

To submit to any of these panels, contact either Chris Vaccaro here or Yvette Kisor here

There are also a few individually sponsored Tolkien sessions planned:

The Medieval Roots of Tolkien’s The Fall of Gondolin, organized by Bill Fliss.

The upcoming publication of Tolkien’s The Fall of Gondolin (August 2018) makes available what Tolkien called “the first real story of this imagined world” (Letter 163), the story of the fall of a great hidden Elven kingdom that occupied Tolkien throughout his life. It forms the basis for much of his early legendarium of Middle-earth and incorporates many aspects of medieval themes and topics. This paper session invites considerations of the medieval roots of Tolkien’s tale.

(The preceding description was originally shared by Bill Fliss)

You can contact him about the session here.

Tolkien’s Legendarium and Medieval Cosmology, organized by Judy Ann Ford

You can contact her about the session here.

Medieval Song, Verse and Versification in Tolkien’s Works, organized by Annie Brust

You can contact her about the session here.

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