Tolkien Society Autumn Seminar
6 November 2021
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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 Society has so far held two seminars in 2021 (Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien and Tolkien and Diversity) and their online setting has seen increased interest with over 700 attendees from 52 countries at ‘Tolkien and Diversity’. We are delighted to be running 2021’s third and final seminar which will be held online and will be free for all. After the seminar, all paper recordings from the seminars are uploaded onto the Tolkien Society’s YouTube channel.

Autumn Seminar: Translating and Illustrating Tolkien

Register for free below! The Zoom link will be sent out on the day of the event. Recordings of the papers will feature on our YouTube channel after the event.

“The translation of The Lord of the Rings will prove a formidable task, and I do not see how it can be performed satisfactorily without the assistance of the author. That assistance I am prepared to give, promptly, if I am consulted.” – Letter 188, to Allen & Unwin

“If a story says ‘he climbed a hill and saw a river in the valley below,’ the illustrator may catch, or nearly catch, his own vision of such a scene; but every hearer of the words will have his own picture, and it will be made out of all the hills and rivers and dales he has ever seen” – ‘On Fairy-stories’


Tolkien’s appeal has led to his fiction and non-fiction being translated into over fifty languages. The art of translation is immensely complex and when discussing the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien himself saw the task as “formidable”, offering his own supportive intervention to achieve a satisfactory result. The author’s invented names and languages prompt the question of how the translator should approach Tolkien’s immense mythology. Recent scholarship has emphasised the need for a wider range of Tolkien’s work to be translated in order for readers to gain a fuller understanding of Arda and the author’s development. But with a wealth of translated texts existing already, this seminar hopes to spark new interpretations about old texts and for unacknowledged translations to be brought to light and examined.

An illustrator of his own work, Tolkien had a keen eye for the visual representation of a text. He admired the work of illustrators such as Pauline Baynes, Cor Blok and Ingahild Grathmer (the Queen of Denmark) and others who illustrated the original English and translated versions of his texts. The manner in which illustrators have engaged with Tolkien’s stories varies dramatically and can often be influenced by culturally specific ideas. This seminar hopes to re-examine renowned illustrations of Tolkien’s work while calling for new or overshadowed illustrations to be discussed.

Papers may consider, but are not limited to the following:

  • Translations/illustrations of Tolkien’s fiction/non-fiction
  • The role of the translator/illustrator
  • Translations/illustrations and their context
  • Translations’/illustrations’ reception

The Tolkien Society invites abstract submissions of no more than 300 words, for a 20-minute paper with 5 minutes of questions.

The Call for Papers is now closed.

Sign up here

Autumn Seminar 2021 Sign Up


Please log in at 13:45 (GMT) to ensure a prompt start at 14:00 (GMT).


Time Speaker Paper
14:00 15:00 10:00 Eric Reinders The Problem of Éowyn’s ‘no living man am I’ in Three Chinese Translations
14:30 15:30 10:30 Helena Real *Los* Silmaril or *Las* Silmaril? Considering Tolkien’s Intent When Translating *The Silmarillion* Into Spanish
15:00 16:00 11:00 Martha Celis Mendoza &
Aline Esperanza Maza Vázques
Characterization and depiction of nature in the Spanish translation of Roverandom
15:30 16:30 11:30 Sonali Chunodkar From the Black Gate to the Krishna Dear: On the Curious Evocative Resonances of Swami Mudrikancha
16:00 17:00 12:00 BREAK
16:30 17:30 12:30 Joel Merriner A Bridge Invisible: Motif Borrowing and Dislocation in Soviet Bloc Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings
17:00 18:00 13:00 Marie Bretagnolle From rabbits to Hobbits: Illustrating and translating J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien in France
17:30 18:30 13:30 Victoria Y. Andersson Illustrating and visualising J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination in immersive virtual reality
18:00 19:00 14:00 Anthony Wachs &
J. Michael R. Wachs
Illustrating Faerie: Translating Tolkien through an Illustrative Visual Form
18:30 19:30 14:30 BREAK
19:00 20:00 15:00 Constantin Pirozhkov Verse Versions: Translations of Tolkien’s Poems and Their Drafts in Russian Editions
19:30 20:30 15:30 James Tauber The Vocabulary of the Latin Translation of the Hobbit
20:00 21:00 16:00 Sonja Virta The Two Translators: Comments on Translating Tolkien
20:30 21:30 16:30 CLOSING COMMENTS