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Seminar speakers announced – 21st Century Receptions of Tolkien

Tolkien Society members at one of our events
Tolkien Society members at one of our events
We are pleased to announce the fourteen speakers who will presenting their talks at the The Tolkien Society Seminar 2021, which will be held online on Saturday 13th February. The theme is Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien, and is free for anyone to attend.


‘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?

How to attend

The event is free to attend and is open to anyone. You can register to attend on our Seminar page.

Speakers and papers

The list of speakers for the day are as follows:

  • Marie Bretagnolle – ‘Artists from Middle-earth: a 21st-century dive into Tolkien’s Secondary World’
  • Jelena Filipovic – ‘“Middle-earth: Shadow of War” as the new shadow’
  • Nick Groom – ‘”In the Darkness Bind Them”: An Introduction to Tolkien’s Speculative Realism’
  • Jem Bloomfield – ‘Post-Pop Tolkien’
  • Elise McKenna – ‘Peter Jackson’s Phantasia: A Modernized Myth’
  • Kathryn Olsen & Lorienne Schwenk – ‘Thrice Welcome: how The Hobbit teaches hospitality’
  • Priscila Mateini – ‘The use of storytelling through J.R.R. Tolkien’s works in the fantasy genre for Young Learners’
  • Erick Carvalho de Mello – ‘The Ring Goes South: The Brazilian translations through time and the perceptions and receptions within fandom and scholarship’
  • Jordan Doyle – ‘Talking Trauma with Tolkien in the 21st Century’
  • Oliver Sage – ‘We Must Do Without Hope: The Long Defeat and Activism at the End of the World’
  • David Means – ‘The Board Games of J.R.R. Tolkien’
  • Mina Lukić & Dejan Vukelić – ‘Tolkien’s Grave as a Site of Memory’

To view our full schedule, see our Seminar page.

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: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 3,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter. He also chairs another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.