Monday, April 7, 2008

Tolkien 2008 at the University of Vermont

I bet this is prettier than where YOU live!It’s been about nine months or so since I last posted about the annual Tolkien conference at UVM* in Burlington, Vermont, but it’s that time of year once again. Later this week, I’ll board a plane for Boston (a nonstop flight this time, luckily), visit with my oldest friend, Gary, and then drive up through the scenic New Hampshire and Vermont countryside to the conference.

This year, Marjorie Burns, an expert in Tolkien’s Norse and Celtic sources, will deliver the keynote address. Here’s a preliminary schedule of the papers to be presented (subject to change):

Session I :Personal Identity, Power, and Post-Colonialism

Jacob Seliger, “The Paradox of Power and Defining Good and Evil in The Lord of the Rings”

Rebecca Addy, “Revealing ‘Identity’ in Middle-earth: A Linguistic Study of Mortality”

Thomas Turner II, “‘Their Fall Is Into Possessiveness’: Possessiveness, Imperialism, and Colonialism in Middle-earth”

Session II: Story and Heirlooms of Middle-earth

Jason Fisher, “‘Whoso beheld her was filled with her love’: Sourcing Beren and Lúthien in the Tale of Kilhwch and Olwen”

Elizabeth Kelly Martin, “‘Ever On and On’: Ownership in Beowulf and Tolkien’s Fiction”

Session III: Bodies and Landscapes in Middle-earth

Anna Smol, “Uncanny Landscapes and Experiences of War in The Lord of the Rings”

Christopher Vaccaro, “Concerning Hobbit Bodies”

E.L. Risden, “In Body, Out of Body: Tolkien’s Monsters, Norse Tradition, and the Conjunction of Spirit and Flesh”

Session IV: Out of Celtic/Back to Celtic

Roslyn Blyn-LaDrew, “Celtic and Back Again: Translations of The Hobbit into Irish and Breton”

Jamie Williamson, “Tolkien’s Use of Traditional Narrative Genre Forms”

Keynote Address

Marjorie Burns, “Night-wolves, Half-trolls, and the Dead Who Won’t Stay Down: The Saga Supernatural in Tolkien's Middle-earth”

There look to be some interesting linguistic topics this year (surprisingly, mine isn’t one of them). I’m especially curious about Addy and Blyn-LaDrew. I’ll have a conference report some time next week. In the meantime, unpacking from the recent move continues apace. Not to mention the writing, revising, and polishing of my conference paper, packing for the trip, and so on. After that, I expect things to get back to normal here at Lingwë. I may even update my Reading and Listening widgets! ;)

* Why “UVM”? It stands for the Latin phrase Universitas Viridis Montis (“University of the Green Mountains”). The name Vermont itself most likely means the same thing, from French vertmont < mont vert “green mountain” — although an alternate reading might be vers le mont “toward the mountain”, which is exactly where I will be headed this weekend.


  1. Jason - sounds like a great conference - I wish Hiro like - I could blink and be there! Look forward to a full report and best for your talk.

    Andy (UK)

  2. Thanks, Andy! And I know what you mean about wanting to be able to bend time and space. There have been a number of events in the U.K. (and other parts of Europe) I would have attended — if I could have done so that easily.