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Call for Papers: Tolkien Society Seminar No. 1 2021

We are now calling for papers for The Tolkien Society Seminar 2021, which will be held online on Saturday 13th February. The theme is Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien.

Call for Papers

‘I find that many children become interested, even engrossed, in The Lord of the Rings, from about 10 onwards. I think it rather a pity, really. It was not written for them. But then I am a very “unvoracious” reader, and since I can seldom bring myself to read a work twice I think of the many things that I read – too soon!’ – Letter 189, to Mrs M. Wilson

J.R.R. Tolkien’s name erupted into the twenty-first century with Peter Jackson’s adaption of The Lord of the Rings (2001–3), bringing new waves of readers to the Professor’s world of Middle-earth. Since the turn of the millennium, the list of published work by Tolkien has substantially expanded, introducing the public to new material that has since been collected, consumed, and discussed.

In an age of multimedia and social media where fan fiction, film, art, video games, YouTube personalities, celebrities and academia draw Tolkien into the concerns of the twenty-first century, scholarship needs to address how Tolkien has been received over the last twenty years. As Tolkien stated in his letter, he did not write The Lord of the Rings for children; yet they read and appreciate it nonetheless.

This seminar hopes to investigate some pressing questions: Has our image of Tolkien and his works changed? How do new publications of Tolkien’s work inform our understanding of him and his work? Do we currently conceive of Tolkien through an ideological lens? Who is reading and engaging with Tolkien in the twenty-first century and how may their receptions and perceptions of his work deepen our understanding?

Papers may consider, but are not limited to the following within the scope of the twenty-first century:

  • The growth and diversity of Tolkien fandom
  • New perceptions of Tolkien’s context and work
  • Tolkien’s work that has been posthumously published in the twenty-first century
  • (Re-)Perceiving Tolkien after engaging with adaptions (film, illustration, video games etc)
  • Tolkien and reception theory

The Tolkien Society invites abstract submissions of no more than 300 words, along with a short bibliography, for a 20-minute paper with 5 minutes of questions. The applications close on Saturday 14th November 2020. Speakers will be confirmed by Monday 16th November.

Sign up and submit your abstract here.

About the Seminar

The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship. The online setting of the 2020 Seminar saw an increased interest with over 400 attendees from 37 countries. We are delighted to be running another online seminar that will be free for all.

About the Author: Will Sherwood
Will is the Education Secretary for the Tolkien Society. A secondary school teacher of English and Music in Kent, Will is passionate about building relationships between the Society and educational institutes across the globe. He welcomes communications from schools and educational charities that are looking to engage with Tolkien's life and works and can be contacted at education@tolkiensociety.org