Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another last-minute conference schedule

As long-time readers will know, I’ve attended the annual Tolkien conference at the University of Vermont several times (most recently, in 2008; follow this link for that conference report). Sadly, I’ve been unable to attend the last few years, but as a “friend of the conference”, I like to make sure people know all about it. This year’s event, the eighth annual, runs April 8–9, 2011. That’s this very weekend, but if you’re nearby or within a reasonable drive, the conference is free and open to all, so stop by!

This year’s theme is “Nature and the Environment in Tolkien’s Middle-earth”, and the keynote speaker is Matt Dickerson of Middlebury College. Dickerson is the author of Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings (Brazos Press, 2003); and the co-author, with Jonathan Evans (who also happens to be giving a paper at the conference), of Ents, Elves, And Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien (University Press of Kentucky, 2006).

Not only is Jonathan Evans attending the conference this weekend, I have just learned that he will be the keynote speaker for next year’s conference — whose theme will be “Tolkien’s Bestiary”. I hope Chris Vaccaro will arrange Oliphaunt rides. :)

Here’s the full conference schedule!

Friday, April 8
Open-mike Fireside Tolkien Reading and Performance
John Dewey Lounge, Old Mill, 7:30–9:00 PM

Saturday, April 9th
Full Day Conference, Memorial Lounge
Continental Breakfast, 8:15 AM

Session I: Science and Tolkien Studies, 8:30–10:00 AM
  • “‘And the Stars Were Hidden’: Middle-earth as a Canary in the Light Pollution Mine”, Kristine Larsen
  • “‘Sheep get like shepherds, and shepherds get like sheep, it is said’: Environment, Rhizomes, and the Map in The Lord of the Rings”, Andrew Hallam
Session II: The Aesthetic and the Divine, 10:00–11:00 AM
  • “Tolkien’s Painterly Style: Descriptions of Nature in The Lord of the Rings”, Jeff MacLeod and Anna Smol
  • “Divine Intervention and Its Influences on Nature and the Shaping of Middle-earth”, Gerry Blair
Lunch Break, 11:00–1:00 PM

Keynote Speaker, 1:00–2:00 PM
“Waterboards and Dark Satanic Mills: Social and Environmental Justice in the Wars of Middle-earth”, Matt Dickerson

Session III: Making and Remaking, 2:00–3:30 PM
  • “Craftswomen and Imitation Men”, Martha Monsson
  • “The Resurrection of Glorfindel, the Stella Maris, and the Cross-roads”, Evan Bassler
Afternoon Break, Coffee, Tea, Brownies, 3:30–3:45 PM

Session IV: Conservation and Agrarianism, 3:45–5:00 PM
  • “The New Agrarianism and the Economics of the Shire”, Jonathan Evans
  • “Ithilien’s Environmental History: Garden, Battlefield, Nature Reserve”, Theresa Marie Russ
It’s interesting to see a session on Tolkien and Science, since I just sat in on a session on C.S. Lewis and Science at CSLIS 14. A full report on that conference will be coming soon. If anyone happens to attend this conference, please leave some comments here about it. Much obliged if you do.


  1. Jason
    This was my third year in a row attending the UVM conference, all I can say is I think they get better every year. Every presenter did a fantastic job with extremely interesting topics proving their individual prowess and expertise as Tolkien scholars. As you know I also read a paper of my own for the first time any where. I think it was well received and hope I would also fall in the category of presenting something of merit to the group. I cannot thank you enough for your advice and support I doubt I would have had the courage to carry through without your encouragement. As a side note the food was good too. The eggs were paticularily good and there was enough for all who desired to have second breakfast. I actually cannot beleive my fortune of being a die hard Tolkien fan and having the opportunity to attend and participate in such an academic conference of world class scholars here in my little green state of Vermont.

  2. Gerry, your paper especially sounded fascinating. Is it going to be published online or in a journal anywhere?

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)

  3. Gerry, glad to hear it went well! I’ve had a report from someone in attendance, and it was all favorable. Sounds like I missed a great event. Maybe next year. :)

  4. Anne Marie, I would be happy to send you the paper send me an e-mail and I will reply. My address is gblair@anwsu.org.

  5. now if you would just record it as a podcast the rest of us might listen to it.