March 16, 2018 by Anthony Burdge
It is our hope this finds you all well. As you know Tolkien Reading Day is celebrated worldwide on March 25th. The New York Tolkien Conference is celebrating this event two days earlier this year on Friday March 23rd, which is due to scheduling arrangements and organizing of this event. We took a hiatus in 2017 due to unfortunate circumstances but the Conference returns this year with a very special program.
This event is FREE but we do require registration
We welcome NYU Professor Nicholas Birns who will be presenting:
A Great Burden Without Guidance: The Six Mortal Ringbearers
The One Ring was made by and meant for Sauron, the malevolent Maia gone rogue. But Sauron’s great defeat at the end of the Second Age, and the ‘accidents’ of history, cause it to be borne by six very different individuals, of very diverse origins, social status, and moral character: the Númenórean king Isildur, the river-halflings Déagol and Sméagol/Gollum, and the Hobbits Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, and Sam Gamgee. On March 25, the ‘anniversary’ of the final relinquishing of the Ring’s great burden, we will compare and discuss the lives and personalities of these six ringbearers as a way to come to grips with Tolkien’s fascination with special items or tokens (Palantiri and Silmarilli as well as the Rings of Power) and how they illuminate his understanding of creativity and possessiveness.
Nicholas Birns first read The Lord of the Rings in the early months of 1975, finishing very near to the memorable day of March 25. He has published on Tolkien in Tolkien Studies,Mythlore, and The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He is also the author of Understanding Anthony Powell (University of South Carolina Press, 2004), Theory After Theory (Broadview, 2010)Barbarian Memory (Palgrave, 2013), and Contemporary Australian Literature: A World Not Yet Dead (Sydney University Press, 2015), as well as many other books and journal articles. including contributions to Exemplaria, Science-Fiction Studies, Leviathan, Victorians Institute Journal, and Extrapolation. He currently is Associate Professor at the Center for Applied Liberal Arts, New York University.
Professor Birns has presented at a previous NY Tolkien Conference, and contributed to, and compiled the index for, our book Forgotten Leaves Essays from a Smial, which will be available for purchase at this event.
As a preview of his presentation next week Prof. Birns was kind enough to provide a few quotes:
“There are six mortal ring bearers: Isildur, Déagol, Sméagol, known by his friends and enemies as Gollum, Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Beggins, and Sam Gamgee. They bear the ring for varying lengths of time, from a few moments in the case of Déagol to sizable periods of time in the case of Bilbo, Frodo, and, of course, Gollum. All of them are men—given that we are clearly told hobbits are smaller men—and not Dwarves and Elves, who have their own rings but never bear the one. And, importantly, they all bear the ring in the Third Age”
“If Bilbo happens on Gollum at just the right time, if providence guides him in being there to find the Ring, Gollum by holding the Ring under the Misty Mountains, “at whose great roots the peril of the world had so long lain hidden,” has enabled Bilbo to pick it up. If the Ring stretches Gollum, Gollum has in turn blocked the Ring.”
“We tend to suppose that Frodo is kind to Gollum because he sees in what Gollum is what he might become. As Anna Smol points out, Frodo, in seeking to reconstitute an amenable Sméagol out of an appalling Gollum, is trying to preemptively prevent himself from falling into a Gollum-like state. But the link between Gollum and Frodo can conjecturally include their both being in another Fellowship of the Ring, one including all the Ringbearers.”
In addition after the presentation, and a lunch break, we welcome everyone to join us for readings from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. If you have a favorite passage you would like to share with attendees then by all means please bring it along.
Lastly, we have updated the address information on our event page and our ticketing site
Please make note of the Conference location:
Baruch College–Newman Vertical Campus
55 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
We look forward to meeting with you all and celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien together again!!