Tolkien Sessions at The International Medieval Conference at Kalamazoo 2020

The program preview for the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University has been up for a little while now, and I thought I would share the Tolkien-themed panels that are a part of the program!

The conference takes place May 7- 10

Thanks to Tales after Tolkien, Tolkien at Kalamazoo, The Fantasy Research Hub at the University of Glasgow, William Fliss, and Elizabeth A. Terry-Roisin for organizing the panels!


On Thursday, May 7:

10:00am–“Medieval World-Building: Tolkien, His Precursors and Legacies”

The papers will be:• Tolkien, Robin Hood, and the Matter of the Greenwood,
Perry Neil Harrison, Fort Hays State Univ.
• Valinor in America: Faerian Drama and the Disenchantment of Middle-earth, John D. Rateliff, Independent Scholar
• Tolkien’s Golden Trees and Silver Leaves: Do Writers Build the Same World for Every Reader, Luke Shelton, Univ. of Glasgow
• Infinity War of the Ring: Parallels between the Conflict within Sauron and Thanos, Jeremy Byrum, Independent Scholar


On Friday, May 8:

1:30pm–“Deadscapes: Wastelands, Necropoli, and Other Tolkien-Inspired Places of Death, Decay, and Corruption (A Panel Discussion)”

The papers will be:• Sites of Memory in Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings,
Geoffrey B. Elliott
• Death and Politics in the Fourth World: Apocalypse and Recovery in the Earthdawn Roleplaying Games, Karol Rybaltowski, FASA Games, Inc.
• “Beorhtnoth we bear, not Beowulf”: Descriptive Restraint in The Homecoming of Beorthnoth, Beorhthelm’s Son, Brian McFadden, Texas Tech Univ.
• “Filled with Echoes”: Norse and Celtic Elements of Tolkien’s Early Realms of the Dead, Amy M. Amendt Raduege, Whatcom College

6:00pm–Tales after Tolkien Society Business Meeting


Saturday, May 9

10:00am–“Tolkien and Se Wyrm”

The papers will be:• A Womb of One’s Own: The Power of Feminine Spaces over the Mythical Phallus, Annie Brust, Kent State Univ.
• Signum Draco Magno Scilicet, or, Earendel and the Dragons: Heavenly Warfare in Medieval European and Tolkienian Annals, Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ.
• Of Serpents and Sin, Michael A. Wodzak, Viterbo Univ.

12:00pm–Tolkien at Kalamazoo Business Meeting
1:30pm–“Tolkien’s Paratexts, Appendices, Annals, and Marginalia (A Roundtable)”
The papers will be:
• Materiality in Tolkien’s Medievalism: The Production of Secondary Manuscript Traditions, Brad Eden, Independent Scholar
• A Letter To a Friend: The “King’s Letter” as Para-text in The Lord of the Rings, Andrew Higgins, Independent Scholar
• Finding and Organizing Tolkien’s Invented Languages,
Eileen Marie Moore, Cleveland State Univ.
Do Young Readers Care What Authors, Editors, or Publishers Think? Young Readers’ Engagement with Paratext and Epitexts of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Luke Shelton, East Tennessee State Univ.
• The Things He Left Behind: Signatures, Marginalia, and Ephemera in Tolkien’s Irish Library, Kristine A. Swank, Univ. of Glasgow.


3:30pm–“Tolkien’s Chaucer”

The papers will be:
• Romance and Sexuality in Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer, Yvette Kisor, Ramapo College
• Tolkien, Chaucer, and the History of Ideas, Sharin F. Schroeder, National Taipei Univ. of Technology
• Travel, Redemption, and Pilgrimage Redux, Victoria Wodzak, Viterbo Univ.


Sunday, May 10:

8:30am–“Tolkien and Manuscript Studies”

The papers will be:
• Cotton MS Vitellius A.XII and Tolkien’s “Asterisk” History of the Lord’s Prayer, John R. Holmes, Franciscan Univ. of Steubenville
• Tolkien, Manuscripts, and Dialect, Edward L. Risden, St. Norbert College
• God and the Artist: Francis Thompson (1859–1907) and Sub-Creation, Brad Eden, Independent Scholar

10:30am–“The End of Game of Thrones in History and Literature”

The papers will be:
• The End of Game of Thrones: Contra-Lewis and Tolkien, Knighthood, Kingship, and the Realm, Elizabeth A. Terry-Roisin
• George R. R. Martin’s Muscular Medievalism: Masculinity, Violence, and Fantasy, Steven Bruso, Endicott College
• Waking the Dragon: Daenerys’s Mad Turn and the Politics of Colonialism in Game of Thrones, Thomas Blake, Austin College


You can find the entire sneak preview of the program, if you like!

(Also, there will be a Tolkien symposium the day before the conference. I will post more details about that when I have them!)

Online Congress registration opens in February, I would love to see you there!

Conference Paper: Eomer Gets Poetic: Tolkien’s Alliterative Versecraft

Two weeks ago, the Open Access Journal of Tolkien Research agreed to publish the paper I presented at the 2018 Tolkien Seminar in Kalamazoo:

Shelton, James (2018) “Eomer Gets Poetic: Tolkien’s Alliterative Versecraft,” Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1 , Article 6. Available at:

The paper is a very basic introduction to Alliterative Verse, and Tolkien’s particular dialect in The Lord of the Rings. It then goes into exactly how the use of alliterative verse impacts the reading of the story for a modern audience.

You can view the full paper by clicking the image below:

**Please remember: this is not a peer-reviewed article. It is a conference paper, so it represents ideas in process and not a finalized product.

Kalamazoo Report (2018)

I have recently returned from the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies, where I attended several wonderful paper presentations and had the opportunity to network and promote my PhD Research!


There were so many great papers and resources shared that I do not have enough time or space to recount them all, so here are a few that are easier to share quickly:

Tolkien fellowship at dinner

I was fortunate enough to have great company each evening at dinner. Here is a picture of one such gathering:

Pictured (left to right): Kris Swank, Diedre Dawson, me, John Rateliff, Andrew Higgins, Jane Chance, Yoko Hemmi, and my PhD chair Dimitra Fimi. Photo taken by Douglas Anderson.

Tolkien Art Index

Erik Mueller-Harder shared this phenomenal resource that he has been working diligently to compile. It is a standardized list of Tolkien’s images. The usefulness and descriptiveness of the index makes it practical and influential. It should become the standard reference for Tolkien’s images.

Find the index here:

Tales After Tolkien Society

I was elected a Vice-President of the society, an honor that I hope to live up to!

Many Meeting

I had several meaningful interactions and can’t wait to get to work on some of the ideas I brought home from the conference! The encouragement and insight of scholars whose work I admire is truly one of the greatest assets of a conference like this. I hope everyone made it home safe!