TEP #35 — Erik Mueller-Harder

For this episode, I had the chance to talk to one of the nicest people in Tolkien scholarship: Erik Mueller-Harder!

Erik’s scholarly focus is on cartography and map-making. This interest has led him to closely investigate the first maps that Tolkien ever created for The Lord of the Rings, and his conference presentations on the subject are mesmerizing! In addition to this personal focus, Erik has also created a website (tolkienists.org) that has helpful resources for any Tolkien fan or researcher! This is where you will find the Tolkien Society Award nominated Tolkien Art Index, as well as his LRCitations, and a forum that is a hub for researchers and scholars!

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TEP #34 – Kristine Larsen

For this episode, Sara sat down with our good friend and ‘Tolkienian Astronomer’: Dr. Kristine Larsen!

Kristine is a professor of astronomy at Central Connecticut State University. Her research and teaching focus in the sometimes uncomfortable points of intersection between science and society, including: women in science,; misconceptions, conspiracy theories, and pseudoscience; the popularization of science for general audiences; and the uses/misuses of science in popular culture (including zombie films, science fiction TV series, and the fiction of Tolkien, Lewis, Gaiman and more). She has been writing on Tolkien since the early 2000s, and her paper Deconstructing Durin’s Day: Science, Scientific Fan Fiction, and the Fan-Scholar won the 2020 Tolkien Society Award for best article! We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

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TEP #33 — Putri Prihatini

For this episode, Sarah had the opportunity to talk with a blogger and fan who is new to the scene compared to our other guests, but she is already having an impact: Putri Prihatini!

Putri writes the blog ‘The Loremaster: Blog Tolkien Indonesia’ where she writes posts in Indonesian and in English.

Her article “Greed and Blood: Powerful Objects in The Silmarillion and Javanese Book of Monarchs” was nominated for the Tolkien Society Award for Best Article in 2021. Find more from Putri on her blog!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

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TEP #32 – Ralph Bakshi

I cannot believe I get to write the following sentence: For this episode of the podcast, I was able to talk to the legendary animator who brought The Lord of the Rings to life in the 1970: Ralph Bakshi!

Ralph Bakshi is most well known to our listeners as the director of the 1978 The Lord of the Rings animated movie. Ralph’s work in animation is revolutionary and includes influential films like Fritz the Cat, which has been rated among the top 100 animated films multiple times and has even been added to The Museum of Modern Art’s collection for preservation.

In addition to his animation, Ralph has produced influential pieces in advertising, comic strips, and cartooning. Now his focus is on sculptural painting, in which he produces stunning work!

You can find more from Ralph Bakshi on his website!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

A short video clip of Ralph answering the first question is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, and other bonus content!

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TEP #31 – Verlyn Flieger

This episode, we are so excited to share out interview with renowned Tolkien scholar Dr. Verlyn Flieger!

Verlyn is a Professor Emerita from the University of Maryland, where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Celtic, Arthurian, Native American, and Norse Myth. She now teaches online at Signum University.

Her scholarly publications include: A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, winner of the 1998 Mythopoeic Award for Inklings Studies; Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World; Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on the History of Middle-earth, co-edited with Carl Hostetter, winner of the 2002 Mythopoeic Award for Inklings Studies. She is also published a number of fiction works, and is a co-editor of the journal Tolkien Studies.

You can find more from Verlyn on her website!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

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TEP #30 – Jenny Dolfen

Our guest for this episode is a very well-respected artist in Tolkien circles: Jenny Dolfen!

Jenny has been a freelance illustrator since 2003, and has gained notoriety for her work inspired by Tolkien’s texts. She has won the Tolkien Society Award for Best Art three times, in 2014, 2018, and 2020!

In this interview, Sarah talks to Jenny about her experiences with Tolkien, painting or drawing inspired by his work, and how she interacts with fandom. We hope you enjoy it!

You can find more from Jenny at her website or on Instagram!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

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TEP #29 – Willie ‘Knewbettadobetta’ Jenkins

Our guest this week is a viral sensation on TikTok and has recently made the move to YouTube: Willie Jenkins!

Willie Jenkins is a super fan of Tolkien! He also has a magnetic personality and a desire to teach. These things have combined to make him a hit as he puts together short videos that summarize different characters or events from Tolkien’s work. With over 23,000 subscribers on TikTok and 3,000 subscribers on YouTube, he is known as Knewbettadobetta on both platforms, Willie is doing an excellent job making Tolkien’s work more approachable and accessible! I was really pleased to have the opportunity to interview him for this episode!

Willie did have a request from us: to help him get a better camera for his channel. If you can contribute, you can donate using Cashapp. His user name is $WillieJenkins.

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Video of this interview is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, and other bonus content!

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TEP #28 — Chris Vaccaro

Our guest this week is a consummate Tolkien scholar and academic: Chris Vaccaro!

Chris is the editor of two collections of scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien: The Body in Tolkien’s Legendarium (2013) and Tolkien and Alterity (2017). He is also the organizer of the annual Tolkien in Vermont conference and a co-organizer of the Tolkien at Kalamazoo group, which organizes conference panels and an annual symposium. His current project is co-editing another edited collection of essays: Queer Tolkien.

Links to audio of this interview are below!

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TEP #27 – Molly Ostertag

Our guest this week is a fantastic animator and author: Molly Ostertag!

Molly is known for her work on several animated series, including Star vs. The Forces of Evil, The Owl House, and ThunderCats Roar. She is also a New York Times Bestselling author who enjoys writing Lord of the Rings fanfiction and fan comics. Her most exciting recent work is her award winning The Witch Boy series. I am so delighted to share our interview with you, where we talk about being her experience as a fantasy writer and a Tolkien fan!

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TEP #26 — Bruce Hopkins

Our guest this week is the first one we have had who worked on the Peter Jackson adaptations of The Lord of the Rings!

Bruce Hopkins played the character Gamling in both The Two Towers and The Return of the King at the beginning of the millennium. He shares with us his own journey as a Tolkien reader, as well as some stories from the set and his personal trek across New Zealand! His trip across New Zealand is available as a mini-series on YouTube!

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