Tolkien Society Seminar 2023 – Númenor, the Mighty and Frail
2 July 2023
Back to events feed Hilton Hotels, Leeds, UK
Hilton Hotels, Leeds, UK

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 Society held three seminars in 2021 (Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien, Tolkien and Diversity, and Translating and Illustrating Tolkien) and their online setting has seen increased interest with over 700 attendees from 52 countries at ‘Tolkien and Diversity’. After the seminar, all paper recordings from the seminars are uploaded onto the Tolkien Society’s YouTube channel. We are delighted to run hybrid seminars where delegates can enjoy discussions on Tolkien in person and online.

Númenor, the Mighty and Frail
 Sunday 2nd July (Hybrid event) The Hilton, Leeds (Free)

‘The Númenóreans attempted to take the Undying Land by force of a great armada in their lust for corporal immortality – which necessitated a catastrophic change in the shape of Earth.”

‘The ‘Downfall of Númenor’ which lies immediately behind The Lord of the Rings, is based on my view: that Men are essentially mortal and must not try to become ‘immortal’ in the flesh.” – Letter 153, Peter Hastings

The seminar aims to examine the role that Númenor plays in Tolkien’s legendarium. Although the island was pivotal to the secondary world narrative of the Second Age, it also re-emerged consistently in Tolkien’s writing and thinking from The Lost Road (1936-37), through The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) and The Notion Club Papers (1945), to ‘Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife’ (1965) and other late essays. Númenor, then, is central to the growth of Tolkien’s legendarium and is a catalyst for seismic change in Arda.

Although Tolkien consistently refers to Númenor as the greatest human kingdom, its overwhelming military splendour and grand civilisation mask its frailty, which only grows over time. As is seen with the fractions of the King’s Men and the Faithful, Númenor’s fall may have been inevitable from its conception. However, its legacy in the Black Númenóeans and the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor evince that its legacy is still somewhat alive after its downfall.

Papers may consider, but are not limited to:

  • Númenor’s historical significance
  • Species, race, and hierarchy
  • Gender
  • Hubris, hamartia, corruption, and manipulation
  • Political tension (internal and/or external to the island)
  • Death and the lust for corporeal immortality
  • Colonialism and post-colonialism
  • Adaptations of Númenor
  • Legacy and posterity in Middle-earth
  • The metaphysics of time and age


The seminar will be free for all attendees (both online and in-person). You can sign up to attend the seminar here.


The schedule below consists of in-person and online presentations.

An informal innmoot—a visit to the local pub—will be held on Saturday 1st July at the Scarborough Hotel.

Registration will open at 11am on Sunday morning with tea and coffee. Food will not be provided so please ensure you come prepared or use the breaks to purchase food from the hotel or from a range of venues available within a five minute walk of the hotel. The day will conclude at approximately 19:10pm BST.

The papers will be recorded and uploaded onto the Tolkien Society YouTube channel after the event.

Time Speaker Paper
11:30 12:30 6:30 Putri Prihatini Sea Goddess Worship and the Power of the King: Parallel between Aldarion, Uinen, Mataram Sultanate, and Javanese “Queen of the Southern Sea”
12:00 13:00 7:00 Irina Metzler Dealing with the Dead: Nuances of ancient Egypt and medieval theology in Númenor
12:30 13:30 7:30 Advait Praturi Darkness Alone is Worshipful: Discovering A Númenórean Theological Anthropology of Worship
13:00 14:00 8:00 S.R. Westvik “I often dream of it”: Trauma and memory in the legacy of the Downfall of Númenor
13:30 14:30 8:30 Sara Brown “Foretasting Death in Life”: Desire, the Fall, and Attempting to Return the ‘Gift’ of Ilúvatar
14:00 15:00 9:00 BREAK
14:30 15:30 9:30 Journeé Cotton ‘All roads are now bent’: Ethical readings of the corporeality of Númenor
15:00 16:00 10:00 Alpaslan Tandırcı Ecology of Imperialism: Environmental History for Númenor
15:30 16:30 10:30 Erik Jampa Andersson The Akallabêth and the Anthropocene: Myth, Ecology, and the Changing of the Earth
16:00 17:00 11:00 Kristine Larsen Monstrous (Im)mortality: Transhumanism and Ecocriticism in ‘Akallabêth’
16:30 17:30 11:30 BREAK
17:00 18:00 12:00 Tom Emanuel ‘By the Waters of Anduin We Lay Down and Wept’: Exilic Theology in the Akallabêth
17:30 18:30 12:30 Chris Vaccaro ‘And Númenor went down into the Sea’: the pleasure of self-dissolution and the masochistic jouissance of Westernesse
18:00 19:00 13:00 Mercury Natis Seducer-Destroyer: Sauron’s Femme Fatale Sources and Their Role in the Númenor Narrative
18:30 19:30 13:30 Clare Moore Elmar, the Experience of Captured Women, and Empires in Decline
19:00 20:00 14:00 CLOSING COMMENTS

Education Resources

Below are a five lessons tied into our seminar’s theme of Númenor. They have been created by our Education Officer Lucy Angel and can be used as a series or individuals lessons. Although they can be used in schools, they are also accessible for libraries and other events that wish to provide activities related to the Island Kingdom. Each lesson plan includes links to resources that you can use, simply click on the underlined words/phrases to download and print.

Númenor Lesson 1 – Lesson Plan

Númenor Lesson 2 – Lesson Plan

Númenor Lesson 3 – Lesson Plan

Númenor Lesson 4 – Lesson Plan

Númenor Lesson 5 – Lesson Plan

International Medieval Congress

There will be seven Tolkien-related sessions at the IMC in 2023, sponsored by The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.

Visit Dr Andrew Higgins’ blog for more information.

There will be six Tolkien-related sessions at the IMC in 2023:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Questions of Adaptation and Authenticity: A Round Table Discussion  (Tuesday 4 July 2023: 19.00-20.00 GMT)
  • Tolkien’s Work and Academic Networks at the University of Leeds (Wednesday 5 July 2023: 14.15-15.45 GMT)
  • New Works, Networks, and Methods in Tolkien and Middle-earth Research (Wednesday 5 July 2023: 16.30-18.00 GMT)
  • J. R. R. Tolkien: Medieval Roots and Modern Branches (Thursday 6 July 2023: 09.00-10.30 GMT)
  • Tolkien’s Medieval Entanglements (Thursday 6 July 2023: 11.15-12.45 GMT)
  • Disentangling the Second Age of Tolkien’s Middle-earth (Thursday 6 July 2023: 14.15-15.45 GMT)


Hilton Leeds City, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4BX

The hotel is roughly three minutes from Leeds train station. Leave the station via the main exit near Marks and Spencers. Cross the road via the pedestrian crossing and go down the staircase to the right of the taxi rank. At the bottom of the stairs take a right and continue along the road and under the recently refurbished railway bridge. Hilton Leeds City is located approximately 200m on the right.