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Programming Update #1

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April 17, 2016 by Anthony Burdge

Greetings Travelers of Middle-earth!

FrodoRingThe Conference is now just under 3 months away and we are excited to announce the 1st of our programming and conference updates.

We have extended the deadline for our Call for Programming by 1 month! The final deadline for proposals has now been moved to June 1st.  If you would like to submit a proposal within the theme of this year’s conference please follow the submission guidelines found here or click on the Call for Programming button at the top of this page.

There have been a number of great proposals already and we are offering a preview of programs to be presented at the 2016 NY Tolkien Conference found here. We have also cited this preview below. There are a few returning presenters from last years conference and are grateful to have them return this year.

It is our hope to see you all again this year as we celebrate the life, work and collaboration of JRR Tolkien and The Inklings.

Christian Attitudes to Modernity in Twentieth Century British Fantasy

Alexandra Gushurst-Moore

Gushurst-Moore will focus on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, with especial focus given to The Lord of the Rings and The Space Trilogy. The premise of the discussion will rely on an analysis of the Christianity of both authors and the way in which they interpret an eco-centric worldview within their novels. Focusing on the figures of Saruman and the N.I.C.E., Gushurst-Moore intends to explicate the ways in which these authors articulate an anti-modernist rhetoric which is in harmony with the contemporary concerns of their respective faiths. Gushurst-Moore will also draw attention to the importance that their friendship played in shaping their opinions, and indeed in the case of Lewis, his religion. These hypotheses will frame a wider discussion about the dynamic relationship between esotericism, mysticism, and religion, concluding that the British cultural imagination has been deeply influenced by the dual mythologies of Christianity and Faerie, and reached an apotheosis in the early twentieth century writings of the Inklings. Sparse discussion will be given to twenty-first century British fantasy (Rowling, Gaiman, Mitchell) which negotiates this heritage and the secularist agenda. As an interdisciplinary scholar, this paper will be multidisciplinary in nature, with an especial focus on the literary outputs of these authors and the historical context in which they were writing. Gushurst-Moore proposes to present this paper in conjunction with research done at C.S. Lewis Study Centre at the Kilns, where she will stay for a period in residence prior to the conference.

Ardagraphic Information Systems

Joe Hoffman holds a Ph.D. in physics from the Florida State University. He is a Principal Scientist at the MITRE Corporation Center for Advanced Aviation System Development.

As the chronological and cultural distance between the Inklings and their readers grows, information systems designed to describe our primary world may play a role in preserving the nuances and connotations of choices made by the writers as they constructed their sub-created worlds. A geographic information system has been developed by researchers in Europe to generate density maps for family names. James Cheshire and his collaborators at University College London have found a way of measuring geographic distributions of names that is relatively static over many generations. This paper applies their mapping of English names to places in Great Britain to extract implicit correspondences between the names of hobbit families and their roles in The Lord of the Rings.  J.R.R. Tolkien is found to have used family names that predominate near his childhood home in the West Midlands to connote characters close to Bilbo and Frodo, names from other parts of Britain to indicate relationships that are not so congenial, and names that do not occur widely in Britain to designate characters who are exotic or strange.  The mapping is applied to the story of the Gamgee family, where it gives insight into the purpose of some parts of the Appendices that are otherwise difficult to explain.

From Oedipus to Mimesis: Modernity and Myth from the Inklings to Rene Girard
by Carl P. Olson, Librarian III, Albert S. Cook Library, Towson University.

Led by the three great apostles of modernity, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, the modern world lives by a compelling narrative of upward progress from the slime to the sublime, from slavery to freedom, from savagery to civilization, with science explaining our origins and leading the way to the final triumph. How did the Inklings respond to this modern narrative? What were their arguments, and what came of them? Did they have any lasting influence?

C.S. Lewis spoke most directly to the modern world. In “Psycho-analysis and Literary Criticism,” he crossed pens with Freud’s critique of poetry and literature as infantile wish fulfillment fantasy. In “The Funeral of a Great Myth,” he tackles the Darwin-led myth of upward progress head-on. For their part, J.R.R. Tolkien (On Fairy Stories) and Owen Barfield (Poetic Diction) rebutted the linguist F. Max Müller, who presaged Freud in calling myth “a disease of language.”

All the Inklings succeeded in taking exception to modern myth, yet did not venture to critique it outside of their fields of specialty, nor offer a coherent counter-theory. The influential Rene Girard (1923-2015) arrived independently at a coherent critique of Freud, Müller, and even Sir James Frazer, in his 1977 work of cultural anthropology, Violence and the Sacred, offering in its place a startling theory gaining ground in the human sciences.

What is the Relationship between Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle?

Tim Fisher aka “Timdalf.
Member of the Wagner Society New York, Mythopoeic Society and Mythgard Institute Student.

Fisher intends to indicate some of the pitfalls and joys of the possibilities of the Tolkien/Wagner relationship. Fisher will present first the circumstantial contextual evidence for their relationship to be followed by evidence internal to the works from The Lord of the Rings (and other Tolkien works) and Der Ring des Nibelungen (and other Wagner works) based on the theories of Joseph Campbell

The science of sub-creation in Tolkien’s corpus: Sub-creation and the adaptation of world building in Lord of the Rings Online

Rebecca Anderson is a PhD Candidate in the English Language and Literature Department at the University of Waterloo.

The theme of this year’s conference – the Inklings and science – relates directly to the intersections of popular culture, sub-creation, world building, and mythology. These four areas of focus are foundational to the basis of this specific conference paper and, as such, they necessitate a consideration of how Tolkien’s work was influenced and shaped by inspiration generated in conversation between and in epistolary exchange among the Inklings.  Anderson’s specific area of interest relative to sub-creation and world building lies in the creation of and adaption of fear across the print and game mediums.

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One thought on “Programming Update #1

  1. I’m excited 🙂 It looks to be shaping up into a wonderful conference once again!

    Liked by 1 person

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