Tolkien Society Seminar 2022 – Tolkien and the Gothic
3 July 2022
Back to events feed Hilton Hotel, Leeds
Hilton Hotel, Leeds

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 be running a hybrid seminar where speakers and audience can enjoy discussions on Tolkien in person and online.

Tolkien and the Gothic

 Sunday 3rd July (Hybrid event) The Hilton, Leeds (Free)

Tolkien’s engagement with the Gothic is not as straightforward as one may assume. His earliest understanding of the word and the language of the Goths can be traced to his reading of Joseph Wright’s A Primer of the Gothic Language (1892). His early fascination with Gothic consequently fed his own experimentations with language creation and legendarium.

However, his prose and poetry show a clear awareness of the Gothic literary tradition that had previously captured the imaginations of eighteenth and nineteenth century writers. Beyond his writing, Gothic influences can be found in Tolkien’s life: from the European fascination with Gothic architecture to the physical and psychological terrors of the Great War.

The seminar aims to explore the ways that Tolkien engaged with the various applications of the Gothic and how this in turn has influenced creative engagements with Tolkien.

Papers may consider, but are not limited to:

  • The Gothic literary tradition in Tolkien’s work
  • Tolkien’s work with the Gothic language
  • Biographical influences of Gothic architecture and the Great War
  • The Gothic in Tolkien art and illustrations
  • Gothic complexities when translating Tolkien

The Tolkien Society invites abstract submissions of no more than 300 words, for a 20-minute paper and 5 minutes of questions. The call for papers’ deadline is the end of the day,


Sign up to attend the 2022 hybrid seminar here.


The schedule consists of in-person and online presentations.

An informal innmoot—a visit to the local pub—will be held on Saturday 2nd July from 7pm 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. There is a range of venues available within a five minute walk of the hotel. The day will conclude at approximately 18:30pm 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 Victoria Holtz Encountering the Undead: They will Not Leave You Unscathed
12:00 13:00 7:00 Mahdî Brecq Tolkien’s Gothic: a poetic resurgence?
12:30 13:30 7:30 Steven Brehe Speculations: The Influence of Bram Stoker’s Dracula upon Tolkien
13:00 14:00 8:00 Sofia Skeva (Re-)Writing The (Monstrous) Body in 20th Century Fantasy Literature: The Construction of the Stranger in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
13:30 14:30 8:30 BREAK
14:00 15:00 9:00 Nick Groom (Keynote) Eldritch Tolkien: The Impossible Complexities of a Gothic Middle-Earth
15:00 16:00 10:00 Andrew Higgins ‘Mommie Dearist’ An Exploration of an Intriguing Tolkienian Gothic Crux
15:30 16:30 10:30 Duane Watson “The forest is queer” – The Fantastic and the Gothic in The Lord of the Rings
16:00 17:00 11:00 BREAK
16:30 17:30 11:30 Journee Cotton The Gothic and Environmental Bioethics: The ‘Creepy’ Bodies of Middle-earth
17:00 18:00 12:00 Giovanni Carmine Costabile “Where now Bucephalus and the proud Eormanric?” – The interplay of Gothic and Classical references as a tacit background behind “The Wanderer”, Tolkien’s Anglo-Saxon source
17:30 18:30 12:30 Michael Dunn Tolkien’s Triptych: Ecological Uncanny, Double Dualism Personified, and the Language of the Literary Gothic
18:00 19:00 13:00 Kristine Larsen Beware Melkors Bearing Gifts: The “Tale of Adanel” as Gothic Fiction
18:30 19:30 13:30 CLOSING COMMENTS

International Medieval Congress

There will be seven Tolkien-related sessions at the IMC in 2022:

  • J. R. R. Tolkien: Medieval Roots and Modern Branches (Monday 4 July: 11.15-12.45)
  • Tolkien and Medieval Poets: A Session in Memory of Richard C. West  (Monday 4 July: 14.15-15.45)
  • Tolkien as a Gateway to Interdisciplinary Teaching: A Round Table Discussion (Monday 4 July: 19.00-20.00)
  • Borders between Life and Death in Tolkien’s Legendarium (Wednesday 6 July: 09.00-10.30)
  • Family, Orientation, Transgression, and Crossing Borders of Middle-earth (Wednesday 6 July: 11.15-12.45)
  • Crossing Borders in Middle-earth (Thursday 7 July: 11.15-12.45)

Visit Dr Andrew Higgins’ blog for more information.

The Venue

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.