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Seminar speakers announced – Tolkien and Diversity
Tolkien Society members at one of our events
Tolkien Society members at one of our events

We are pleased to announce the sixteen speakers who will be presenting their papers at the The Tolkien Society Seminar 2021, which will be held online on Saturday and Sunday 3rd – 4th July. The theme is Tolkien and Diversity, and is free for anyone to attend.


While interest in the topic of diversity has steadily grown within Tolkien research, it is now receiving more critical attention than ever before. Spurred by recent interpretations of Tolkien’s creations and the cast list of the upcoming Amazon show The Lord of the Rings, it is crucial we discuss the theme of diversity in relation to Tolkien. How do adaptations of Tolkien’s works (from film and art to music) open a discourse on diversity within Tolkien’s works and his place within modern society? Beyond his secondary-world, diversity further encompasses Tolkien’s readership and how his texts exist within the primary world. Who is reading Tolkien? How is he understood around the globe? How may these new readings enrich current perspectives on Tolkien?

Representation is now more important than ever and Tolkien’s efforts to represent (or ignore) particular characteristics requires further examination. Additionally, how a character’s identity shapes and influences its place within Tolkien’s secondary-world still requires greater attention. This seminar aims to explore the many possible applications of “diversity” within Tolkien’s works, his adaptations, and his readership.

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 two-day seminar is as follows:

  • Cordeliah Logsdon – Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings
  • Clare Moore – The Problem of Pain: Portraying Physical Disability in the Fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien
  • V. Elizabeth King – “The Burnt Hand Teaches Most About Fire”: Applying Traumatic Stress and Ecological Frameworks to Narratives of Displacement and Resettlement Across Cultures in Tolkien’s Middle-earth
  • Christopher Vaccaro – Pardoning Saruman?: The Queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • Sultana Raza – Projecting Indian Myths, Culture and History onto Tolkien’s Worlds
  • Nicholas Birns – The Lossoth: Indigeneity, Identity, and Antiracism
  • Kristine Larsen – The Problematic Perimeters of Elrond Half-elven and Ronald English-Catholic
  • Cami Agan – Hearkening to the Other: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
  • Sara Brown – The Invisible Other: Tolkien’s Dwarf-Women and the ‘Feminine Lack’
  • Sonali Chunodkar – Desire of the Ring: An Indian Academic’s Adventures in her Quest for the Perilous Realm
  • Robin Reid – Queer Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!
  • Joel Merriner – Hidden Visions: Iconographies of Alterity in Soviet Bloc Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings
  • Eric Reinders – Questions of Caste in The Lord of the Rings and its Multiple Chinese Translations
  • Dawn Walls-Thumma – Stars Less Strange: An Analysis of Fanfiction and Representation within the Tolkien Fan Community
  • Danna Petersen-Deeprose – “Something Mighty Queer”: Destabilizing Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien
  • Martha Celis-Mendoza – Translation as a means of representation and diversity in Tolkien’s scholarship and fandom

To view our full schedule, see our Seminar page.

About the Seminar

The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short conference of both academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship. The online setting of the 2020 and 2021 Seminars saw an increased interest with over 500 attendees from 42 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 PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow and ex-teacher, Will is passionate about building relationships between the Society and educational institutes across the globe. He welcomes communications looking to engage with Tolkien's life and works.