Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Tolkien Transactions LXVI

January 2016

Another busy month ...
I have said often enough that the two primary criteria for something to make it to these transactions is 1) that I actually see it, and 2) that I find it interesting or relevant or otherwise worthy enough to spend time on sharing it with you.
I am sure that many things that would meet the second criterion never makes the first, but the reverse is also true: I see a lot of stuff that fails to meet the second criterion – this month including, among other things, spurious and foolish claims about that chimney and folly in Birmingham, the possible auditioning of an acclaimed musician (however much I like his music) in connection with the Jackson films (the Beatles' bid for a The Lord of the Rings film is more interesting in a Tolkienian context), and what appears to be violations of the copyrights of the Tolkien Estate. You will find no trace of any of these below.
With that disclaimer, I hope you will nonetheless find at least some thing that is new, interesting, enjoyable or otherwise makes reading this worth your time. All the usual disclaimers of course also apply – about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: The Birthday Toast
2: News
3: Events
4: Essays and Scholarship
5: Commentary
6: Reviews and Book News
7: Interviews
8: Tolkienian Artwork
9: Other Stuff
10: Rewarding Discussions
11: In Print
12: Web Sites
13: The Blog Roll
14: Sources

The Birthday Toast

A simple list of articles and links without commentary ...

The Professor!

Bilbo and the Red Book
by Jay Johnstone
Can you find the 15 hints to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in this beautiful picture?
Staff, WTOP, Saturday, 2 January 2016, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien fans to toast ‘The Professor’ on his 124th birthday

Alice Greenleaf, Middle-earth News, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘Join Tolkien Fans for the International Birthday Toast to the Professor!

Emily Asher-Perrin, TOR.com, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘J. R. R. Tolkien Went into the West, but Gave Us Middle-earth

John D. Rateliff, Sunday, 4 January 2016, ‘Happy Tolkien's Birthday

Tomás Hijo, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘Remastering the old 'Moria taxi troll'. My way to celebrate!

‘Altaira’, TheOneRing.net, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!

Kirsten Silven, Inquisitr, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘Happy 124th Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!

Laura Hampton, The Hevelin Collection, Monday, 4 January 2016, ‘Happy belated birthday to J. R. R. Tolkien

Arathi M, The Hindu, Tuesday, 5 January 2016, ‘The magic of Tolkien


News

Fell and Fey
An image of Fëanor by Jenny Dolfen
Remember to also check out the version with gold leaf!
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 7 January 2016, ‘Mythgard Academy class on The Shaping of Middle-earth
On the free-access Mythgard Academy class on The Shaping of Middle-earth (fourth volume in The History of Middle-earth), taught by Corey Olsen.

Medievalist.net, Sunday, 11 January 2016, ‘10 Free Medieval Studies Online Courses you can take in 2016
While we are on the topic of free (or nearly ...) on-line courses available for Tolkien enthusiasts in 2016, here is a list from Medievalist.net of such courses on Medieval topics

Kerry Ashdown, Saturday, 16 January 2016, ‘New exhibition set to explore Lord of the Rings creator J R R Tolkien's time in Staffordshire
See also Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Thursday, 28 January 2016, ‘Touring Tolkien exhibition coming to Staffordshire due to lottery funding
and also the events section.

Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Saturday, 16 January 2016, ‘New stink bug named after Tolkien dragon
On the naming of Tamolia ancalagon after Tolkien's famous dragon. Tamolia ancalagon is a Tessarotomid bug from New Guinea, which has been recently named by the Systematic Entomology Laboratory at North Dakota State University. See last month's transactions for the original article from Entomology Today.

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 20 January 2016, ‘Earliest reference to “elf” manuscript digitised
On the digitisation and making available on-line of the earliest manuscript known to include a reference to elfs (or elves). Elves were evil … -ish (albeit not uniformly so), according to the Anglo-Saxons (and, probably, the Old Norse). Click on through to the article by the British Library, which investigates the appearance of these creatures in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in more depth.


Events

Info on upcoming events (as of 1 February)
17 February – 13 April 2016, Newberry Library, Chigago, Illinois, ‘The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkien's Mythic Sources’, The Newberry Library Continuing Education Classes, Wednesdays 17:45 – 19:45, taught by Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried.

Man of Gondor
Beregond by Jenny Dolfen
20 February 2016, Woodstock Town Hall, Oxfordshire, ‘Tolkien: Author of the Millenium?’, Woodstock Literature Society – A talk by Dr. Stuart Lee

20 February 2016 & more, Rome, Italy, ‘The Medieval Ages Through Tolkien's Eyes’, Accademia Medioevo and Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani

5 March 2016, Pembroke College, Cambridge, UK, ‘Minas Tirith Smial Annual Dinner’, Minas Tirith, the Cambridge Tolkien Society

7 March – 24 April 2016, Museum of Cannock Chase, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien in Staffordshire’, The Haywood Society

22 - 25 March 2016, Seattle, WA, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference, PCA/ACA

24 March 2016, Oslo, Norway, ‘ArtheCon 2016’, Arthedain

25 March 2016, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day, The Tolkien Society – the 2016 theme is “Life, Death, and Immortality”.

8–10 April 2016, The Middletons Hotel, York, ‘Springmoot and AGM 2016’, The Tolkien Society

8–9 April 2016, University of Vermont, USA, ‘Tolkien in Vermont 2016’, Tolkien Club of University of Vermont
Anna Smol, Monday, 19 October 2015, ‘CFP: Tolkien in Vermont 2016

6–8 May 2016, University of Jena, ‘Tolkien Conference 2016’, Deutsche Tolkiengesellschaft and Walking Tree Publishers. The 2016 theme is ‘Tolkien's Philosophy of Language’

12–15 May 2016, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, , ‘51st International Congress on Medieval Studies (K'zoo '16)’, The Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University
Anna Smol, Saturday, 23 January 2016, ‘Tolkien & medievalism at K'zoo 2016: sneak peek

28 May 2016, East Yorkshire, ‘Tolkien Tour: East Yorkshire’, The Tolkien Society

2–5 June 2016, Taylor University, Indiana, ‘C.S. Lewis & Friends Colloquium 2016’, Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis & Friends

17–19 June 2016, Leiden | Den Haag, ‘Lustrum 2016: Unlocking Tolkien, Unquendor – The Dutch Tolkien Society

3 July 2016, Hilton Hotel, Leeds, ‘The Tolkien Society Seminar 2016’, The Tolkien Society
This year's theme will be ‘Life, Death, and Immortality’ in the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. See also Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 19 January 2016, ‘Call for Papers: Tolkien Society Seminar 2016

4–7 July 2016, Leeds University, ‘International Medieval Congress’, Institute for Medieval Studies

16 July 2016, Baruch College, New York City, ‘New York Tolkien Conference

18–20 July 2016, University of Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany, ‘International Conference on Medievalism – 2016: Tradition or Myth’, International Society for the Study of Medievalism &ndash: I am not sure if there will be anything specifically Tolkienian at this conference, but looking at the theme of the 2016 conference, I would very much expect that Tolkien will be mentioned ... more than once.

5–8 August 2016, San Antonio, Texas, US, ‘MythCon 47’, The Mythopoeic Society. The 2016 theme is ‘Faces of Mythology: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern’

September? 2016, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot 2016’, The Tolkien Society — an Oxonmoot will be held ...

For much of the above, I am deeply grateful to Anna Smol for her Sunday, 31 January 2016 post, ‘Tolkien conference season 2016’ – Thank you!


Essays and Scholarship

Simon J. Cook, Sunday, 10 January 2016, ‘Tolkien's magic
In this post, Simon Cook investigates Tolkien's use of ‘spell’ and how Tolkien seems to emphasize the power of words, even ordinary words by thoroughly non-magical people, to hold power over other people. In both The Lord of the Rings and in other writings (not least On Fairy-stories) Tolkien sets up a complex of words such as spell, enchantment, songs of power, words of power, and magic that circles the central concept of the power of the word over the minds and imaginations of the listeners and readers. It seems to me that Tolkien, in Arda, sets up a world in which this power is not fundamentally different from the power Tolkien believed that words have in the real world, but in which this power is more obvious, and in which some creatures may have the ability to enhance that power with a bit of their own innate power. See also the follow-up on this post, Wednesday, 13 January 2016, ‘Tolkien's magic II; or, what hobbits have that elves don't
Here I think that Cook sets up some interesting distinctions between Elves and Humans (Men and Hobbits) in Tolkien's legendarium. I suspect that I would think that his distinctions do not quite hold, but I would be very interested to see these ideas elaborated and contextualised also with the different relations of Elves and Men to the Music (Eru willed that Men “should have a virtue to shape their life amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else;”).
The last (so far) of the posts pursuing the this theme of spells, enchantment and fantasy, Thursday, 14 January 2016, ‘Who is Gandalf?
Here I am afraid that Cook loses me. Not in the build-up, but in the conclusion. I would agree (and I think it is a fairly trivial conclusion) that Gandalf often acts as Tolkien's mouthpiece in The Lord of the Rings, but there is, in my opinion, a long way from there to the claim that “Gandalf is Tolkien's fantasy.” That said, the discussion is very interesting and even where I am not convinced, I find that there is something worth considering and reflecting upon.

Idril
by Jenny Dolfen
Sara Graça da Silva and Jamshid J. Tehrani, Wednesday, 20 January 2016, ‘Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales
“we show that these oral traditions probably originated long before the emergence of the literary record, and find evidence that one tale (‘The Smith and the Devil’) can be traced back to the Bronze Age.”
I wonder what Tolkien would have thought of this? I am sure he would have been intrigued, but what else? I suspect that he would also want to emphasise the importance of the differences – of “all that gives [each story] particular force or individual life”. I imagine that he would at the same time be enthusiastic about the results and the new knowledge, but at the same time wish to stress the limitations and the need to use these exiting new tools with care … but that is, admittedly, merely what I imagine; very speculative.
The story has also been in the news:
Chris Samoray, Science News, Tuesday, 19 January 2016, ‘No fairy tale: Origins of some famous stories go back thousands of years
BBC, Wednesday, 20 January 2016, ‘Fairy tale origins thousands of years old, researchers say
Alison Flood, The Guardian, Wednesday, 20 January 2016, ‘Fairytales much older than previously thought, say researchers
Ed Yong, The Atlantic, Wednesday, 20 January 2016, ‘The Fairy Tales That Predate Christianity

Thomas Honegger, Tuesday, 26 January 2016, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's Academic Writings
A chapter published in A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Stuart Lee on Tolkien's academic writings. Honegger opens with a discussion of the status of Tolkien's academic writings (including various unpublished writings) with special focus on their status within Tolkien scholarship. Honegger then groups Tolkien's writings in ‘Tolkien on Words’, ‘Tolkien on Language’, and ‘Tolkien on Literature’, giving an overview and offering a commentary discussing the direction of Tolkien's thoughts on the topic, with the section on Tolkien's writings about literature being far the longest. The chapter ends with a list of Tolkien's academic writings (ordered chronologically by publication) and, of course, a bibliography (which is also worth exploring). All in all an excellent chapter. (Login necessary.)

Bradley J. Birzer, The Catholic World Report, Thursday, 28 January 2016, ‘The Story of Kullervo and the origins of Tolkien's legendarium
Tolkien's engagement with The Kalevala in general and The Story of Kullervo in particular is the thread to which Bradley Birzer continuously returns in this article on the origins of Tolkien's legendarium (the plural form is appropriate here, as it is not a question of a single well-spring). The article is excellent as far as it goes despite an error or two (Tolkien's legendarium is indeed ‘nationalist’, albeit not in the negative sense this word often gets, but in the sense of being permeated with his deep and abiding love for his country, the West Midlands). Also note the comments where John Garth links to his own piece from The Guardian about the genesis of Tolkien's legendarium. In commentary elsewhere John Garth also mentions his article in Tolkien Studies XI (2014), ‘“The road from adaptation to invention”: How Tolkien Came to the Brink of Middle-earth in 1914’ and his talk at the Tolkien Symposium at Merton College in November 2014, ‘100 years on, how Tolkien came to the brink of Middle-earth


Commentary

Thomas J. West III, Saturday, 2 January 2016, ‘Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “A Journey in the Dark” and “The Bridge of Khazadûm”
West starts this month with the Moria chapters, and gets all the way through book 3, ending his postings with Gandalf and Pippin riding away from the Gap of Rohan.

Joel W. Hawbaker, Sci-Fi-Fantasy Network, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘The Catholic And The Convert – Part 4
In the last two instalments of this multi-part essay, Hawbaker discusses the notion og Good in Lewis and Tolkien, and of the endings of their best-known stories (The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia). I cannot put my finger on my issues with these discussions in a few sentences, but they appear to me strangely unsatisfactory. From oddly chosen citations (possibly in an attempt to pick other citations than those usually used), over a lack of breadth – a focus that becomes not only narrow, but myopic, and other aspects, my overall impression is that these discussions tell us more about Joel W. Hawbaker than they do about Lewis and Tolkien.

Lynn Forest-Hill, Southfarthing Mathom, Saturday, 9 January 2016, ‘First meeting in 2016
In this and the following post, we may follow the Southampton Tolkien Reading Group through chapters 6–8 of book 3 of The Lord of the Rings. As always the discussions are interesting and occasionally re-awakens one's appreciation for Tolkien's genius, as in calling attention to the last lines of chapter 6, ‘The King of the Golden Hall’ … “Wow!” indeed!

Ben, Sunday, 10 January 2016, ‘Tolkien and Hope
In this post Ben launches a triple criticism related to Tolkien's essay On Fairy-stories: of Tolkien for mixing up his personal faith with his scholarship, on Tolkien scholars for over-emphasising the concept of eucatastrophe, and on Tolkien scholars for relying too heavily on Tolkien's own critical apparatus.
Ben is certainly not the first to offer critique of Tolkien's essay, as Flieger and Anderson point out in their introduction to the extended edition of the essay, both Carpenter and Shippey have gone before, and though the direction of the critique differs, I think there is a common thread of mistaking the nature of the lecture-cum-essay. Tolkien is, as Flieger and Anderson point out, “not making a single argument, nor is he trying to prove a thesis,” to which I would add that nor is he trying to present the results of scholarly research. “Rather, he is offering a wide-ranging overview,” – an overview of a highly personal nature, that, with its many an varied points, seeks to assert that Fairy-stories are indeed a literary genre worthy of being read by adults simply for the enjoyment of reading them. As for Tolkien's concept of eucatastrophe, I can accept that Tolkien thought it linked to the Christian evangelium, but I would assert that I don't have to agree with his analysis to benefit from his invention, nor of his discussion of ‘consolation’.
The second critique is probably epitomized by the claim that “Only a kind of fiat by consensus of Christian scholars has produced this reliance on an essentially Christian interpretive reading with ‘eucatastrophe’ a the center.” While I would agree that such scholars do exist, I think that Ben exaggerates their impact on scholarship on Tolkien, which is generally far more balanced than he allows.
The final complaint also seems to me to miss the mark by a wide margin simply by exaggerating a problem beyond recognition. The final paragraph reads,
“Tolkien scholars need to engage with ‘On Faery Stories’ more critically and with greater rigor. They should not be afraid to point out where Tolkien’s own beliefs are implicated with his scholarship, and why that might cause interpretive problems. Most of all, they should get over ‘eucatastrophe’ and they should stop fetishising Tolkien's own interpretive apparatus. Think up your own theories.”
So, essentially, Ben is asking Tolkien scholars to do exactly what they're doing, unless he wants them to completely ignore Tolkien's own critical vocabulary and thoughts, which would be a complete and dramatic mistake. No-one ‘fetishises’ Tolkien's critical apparatus, but they use it and engage with it in, quite often, new and intriguing ways to come up with their own theories.
Had Ben presented this as as addressing some (preferably named) minority fringe-sections of Tolkien scholarship with little impact on the broad thrust of Tolkien research, I would have been more sympathetic to his ideas (though I would say that there are other problems in Tolkien scholarship that deserve more attention – see elsewhere over the past few months), but presented as an complaint over the broad thrust of Tolkien scholarship, I would say that it is very wide off the mark.

Summer Thranduil
by Jenny Dolfen
Alina H, Sci-Fi-Fantasy Network, Tuesday, 26 January 2016, ‘Women In Tolkien's Works
I tend to have a very ambivalent attitude to most of the contributions to the discussion about Tolkien's portrayal of women in his books. On one hand, any kind of ‘Tolkien was misogynist’ is not just foolish, but also easily proved wrong. That, however, doesn't mean that there are no problems and nothing relevant to discuss or even critique in the way Tolkien incorporates women in his works, and contributions simply listing strong women in his works tend to be as oblivious of the facts as those that accuse him of being misogynist.
The present article by Alina H does go beyond this, but the subtitle shows, in my opinion, why I would find this article unsatisfactory: ‘Debunking the Misleading Ideas about Women in J.R.R. Tolkien's Works’. This article does not seek to enlighting us about the titular topic; it merely seeks to refute the misconception of Tolkien as a misogynist, which is, frankly, far too easy and too uninteresting to really be worth doing.
It seems to me that Tolkien's female characters are generally either idealised or caricatured. The middle-section that should be occupied by a variety of more realistic types is very sparsely populated, whereas there are far more such realistic male characters. This is a feeling, I know, and I cannot really prove that this skew is worse than the overall gender skew in Tolkien's books, but it could be interesting to look into. I would argue, however, that among the very powerful, we will find more women than we would expect based on the overall gender distribution. Also, I haven't come across studies of how the gender skew affects different readers – in many ways, obviously, but I would hope we could say something intelligent about general trends.
Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien (Mythopoeic Press. 2015, edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie Donovan) goes a long way to address the issue in a better way than we have otherwise seen, but this, too, has a tendency towards the defensive in a way that usually fails to engage with any more complex problems.

John D. Rateliff, Thursday, 28 January 2016, ‘Timothy Leary on Tolkien
A voice from the past … from a 1966 issue of Diplomat magazine, dedicated to Tolkien. “A bit odd”, Rateliff calls it … a bit? :)


Reviews and Book News

Thomas Honegger, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘Review of Ralph C. Wood (ed.). 2015. Tolkien among the Moderns.
Honegger, in this review for Hither Shore vol. 12 (forthcoming) echoes the complaints by other commenters that the collection lacks focus, has a, mildly put, ‘unusual’ interpretation of modern, and the individual contributors generally appear unaware of preceding Tolkien scholarship on their chosen topics. Though there may be individual chapters that I would wish to pursue for their treatment of topics I am interested in, I doubt that I shall be spending money on this volume. (Login necessary.)

Thomas Honegger, Sunday, 3 January 2016, ‘A Reviewer's Complaint
A timely (if not overdue) complaint – or rant – against the sloppy errors too often seen in academic publications: a lack of bibliographical research, orthographic errors, erroneous statements of fact, etc. I might have wanted to add a couple of points where I agree with Schürer's critique, but well said, indeed! While some of this may be the result of academic publishers cutting editing services, the authors are at least responsible for doing proper bibliographical research and investigating their facts.
Two very minor quibs of mine are entirely unrelated to the topic. The ReasarchGate URL is http://www.researchgate.net/ (where Honegger makes it a ”.org”), and where Honegger finds Fornet-Ponse's response in Tolkien Studies VII (2010) to be ‘informed’, I found it sadly based on a misreading of Tolkien's Ainulindalé. (Login necessary.)
See also Douglas A. Anderson's response, Monday, 4 January 2016, The State of the Field in Tolkien Scholarship
In which Anderson agrees with Honegger, and offers some additional remarks, including an example of a person, Adam Roberts, whose attempts at scholarship, according to Anderson (I have not read it myself) falls far short of the mark, but still gets published.

David Maddock, Mythgard Institute, Tuesday, 5 January 2016, ‘Book Review: The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings
This review appears considerably more positive about the Zaleski book than those of other reviewers, including established Tolkien experts such as Wayne Hammond.

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, Thursday, 7 January 2016, ‘The History of Middle-earth
A list of short descriptions of the books of the History of Middle-earth series. Summarising all volumes of the series in a paragraph apiece will inevitably leave something out, and Hawboldt's brief listings of contents fail to convey the value of these books. Of course, he admits from the outset that he has “felt that The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales have provided [him] with satisfactory information to quench any thirsts [he] may have.” This, however, ignores the true value of this series: that of adding another dimension to our understanding of Tolkien's legendarium, showing that the idea of a ‘canon’ that is so often trotted out in on-line discussions, is, at best, highly misleading.

Douglas A. Anderson, Saturday, 9 January 2016, ‘Tales Before Tolkien hardcover special for January 2016
Doug Anderson has found a cache of copies of his 2003 anthology, Tales Before Tolkien, that he are now selling at a very attractive price (though shipping to continental Europe does add a bit ...).

Sue Bridgwater, Sunday, 10 January 2016, ‘Review of 'The peace of Frodo; on the origins of an English Mythology' by Simon J. Cook
A short review by Sue Bridgwater of Simon Cook's article, ‘The Peace of Frodo’ in Tolkien Studies 12, which Sue ”enjoyed and admired [...] so much that I wanted to 'get something out there' as soon as possible”. For my own initial reactions, see last month's transactions, though I believe both Sue Bridgwater and I hope to published more in-depth and considered responses to Simon Cook's work. (Login necessary.)

Thomas Honegger, Wednesday, 20 January 2016, ‘Review of Edward L. Risden. 2015. Tolkien's Intellectual Landscape
Honegger provides a nuanced and very readable review of Risden's book. Overall, Honegger finds the book ‘worth reading’ and the primary problem that he identifies is that the book doesn't seem to have a well-defined target audience. (Login necessary.)


Interviews

Myla Malinalda, Middle-earth News, Friday, 8 January 2016, ‘Songs of Sorrow and Hope: An Interview with Jenny Dolfen
Mostly about Jenny Dolfen's new art-book, Songs of Sorrow and Hope, but of course also including other Dolfenian topics. As will be well-known to regular readers, I am very fond of Jenny and her work, so my current plan is to find a way to get myself a copy signed by the artist herself, so a review here may have to wait a bit.


Tolkienian Artwork

Tomás Hijo, Saturday, 2 January 2016, ‘Remastering an old work

Tomás Hijo, Saturday, 9 January 2016, ‘Remastering finished!

Graeme Skinner, Sunday, 10 January 2016, ‘The Light of Eärendil's Star
Responding to the theme of the month at John Howe's web-site, Fiat Lux
Graeme Skinner, Sunday, 10 January 2016, ‘Lighting the Beacon

‘Dragonlady’, Friday, 22 January 2016, ‘The Star
Varda Elentári – another response to the Fiat Lux theme of the month at John Howe's web-site.

Four Seasons
... of the Elvenking in pictures by Jenny Dolfen
Jenny Dolfen, Saturday, 30 January 2016, ‘Fell and Fey
Jenny is back with the Féanorians – this time Féanor himself.


Other Stuff

Karl E. H. Seigfried, Monday, 18 January 2016, ‘Silmarillion Shoebox Dioramas
Karl Seigfried has been teaching open classes on Tolkienian topics at Chicago's Newberry Library. In autmun semester (Sep. through Dec), the topic was The Silmarillion, and in this post, Seigfried describes the topics they covered and shares some of the students' products in the form of shoebox dioramas. I am not sure who the target audience really is for a class series like this, so in order to better appreciate the information he does share, I would have loved to have a bit of extra information about the context.

Medievalist.net, Sunday, 31 January 2016, ‘Sir Gawain Gets an 80s Reboot: The Sword of the Valiant Movie Review
About the 1984 cinematic retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the film The Sword of the Valiant, featuring Miles O'Keefe as Gawain and Sean Connery as the Green Knight …. I am not sure if the proper word is ‘interesting’, or ‘curious’, or perhaps a third choice, or a suitable combination :)


Rewarding Discussions

LotR Plaza: ‘Recognition and Estrangement in Tolkien
Taking its outset in a comment by China Mieville about books providing either recognition or estrangement. Despite some interesting and intriguing comments, I still hope that we will find time to develop the discussion further as I think that there is more to be said on this topic.

LotR Plaza:, , ‘Saruman Ring-maker
Not a new discussion, by any means, but a chance to revisit the question of the ring that Saruman wore and his claim of being a ‘Ring-maker’.

LotR Plaza:, , ‘The Oath
About the Fëanorian Oath and why it was so terrible. This discussion also (at least in my mind) links with Simon Cook's posts about spells, the power of words, and words of power in Tolkien's sub-creation.


In Print

Mythprint 375
This issue with a nice cover image featuring Finduilas by Ebe Kastein. Shannyn Jordan has sent the article, ‘Tolkien, Lewis, and the Postmodern as Evil’, which has some very interesting discussions of the moral relativity of postmodernism and examples of moral relativity in the works of the two titular Inklings. Ultimately, however, the discussion remains a tantalising hint at what might be. Otherwise there is a review by Ryder W. Miller of Baptism by Fire: The Birth of the Modern British Fantastic in World War I, edited by Janet Brennan Croft and published by Mythopoeic Press.

Beyond Bree, January 2016
The high points this month are Joel Cornah's paper, The Tardis in Middle-earth: Tolkien's world is bigger on the inside, which he presented at last year's Oxonmoot (drawing various parallels between the Doctor Who TV series and Tolkien's legendarium, mainly The Lord of the Rings), and the nineteenth of Dale Nelson's brilliant series, Days of the Craze, ‘Gordon College Hosts Tolkien Expert Kilby for 1968 Humanities Conference’ about Clyde S. Kilby and the 1968 conference at Gordon College.


Web Sites

The Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends
The center is at Taylor University in Indiana and “seeks to facilitate and encourage the reading and study of C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Owen Barfield” – why Tolkien isn't on that list is beyond me, but perhaps the founder of the center just didn't like Tolkien.


The Blog Roll

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.

Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy
Archive of posts from January 2016

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from January 2016

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from January 2016

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from January 2016

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from January 2016

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from January 2016

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from January 2016

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from January 2016

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from January 2016

Ben, ‘A clearer thinking oasis
Archive of posts from January 2016

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from January 2016

Various, ‘Middle-earth News
Archive of posts from January 2016

Sources

No new sources in January 2016

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Tolkien Transactions LXV

December 2015


First of all:
Happy New Year!


Now, with that out of the way, it is appropriate to highlight the Tolkien Birthday Toast on the evening of January 3rd (21:00 – or 9 PM – local time). For more information on the Birthday Toast, please refer to the Tolkien Society web-site.

Christmas this year marked the end (hopefully) of a very busy period for me, but fortunately I seem to have been able to catch up at least with my transactions over the holiday period (and still have completed other tasks), making me once again on time with this post. No promises can or will, of course, be made as for next month :-)

All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: News
2: Events
3: Essays and Scholarship
4: Commentary
5: Reviews and Book News
6: Tolkienian Artwork
7: Other Stuff
8: Rewarding Discussions
9: In Print or By Subscription
10: Web Sites
11: The Blog Roll
12: Sources

Jenny's 2015 Summary of Art
by Jenny Dolfen

News

David Oberhelman, Mythopoeic Society, Tuesday, 1 December 2015, ‘Mythopoeic Awards 2016: Call for Nominations
Well ... what it says, really :-) Members of the Mythopoeic Society may now, and until Febrary 14, nominate books for the 2016 Mythopoeic Awards.

Khareem Shaheen, The Guardian, Wednesday, 2 December 2015, ‘Turkish court asks 'Gollum experts' if Erdoğan comparison is insult
This month's most ludicrous headline …. Since it is a matter of New Line film imagery, Jackson has got mixed up in the affair, which seems to put it down to the film-character Sméagol. Since this character, judging by Jackson's comments, is fundamentally different from Tolkien's character of the same name (which is really the case for all – or nearly all – the characters that appear in both stories), I have little to add to this.
See also Khareem Shaheen, The Guardian, Thursday, 3 December 2015, ‘Erdoğan's 'Gollum insult' a mistake, says Lord of the Rings director
And ‘Stubby the Rocket’, TOR.com, Thursday, 3 December 2015, ‘Turkish Court to Decide Whether Comparing the Turkish President to Gollum is an Insult
Sarene Leeds, Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 9 December 2015, ‘Stephen Colbert Uses Tolkien Expertise to Weigh In on Turkish Insult Case
The main problem here is that Colbert is once more wrong about Sméagol (see David Bratman's excellent commentary last month).

Parker & Hart, GoComics, Sunday, 6 December 2015, ‘The Wizard of Id
Well … if it's for hot yoga, it is of course a different matter.

Jane Ciabattari, Monday, 7 December 2015, ‘The 100 greatest British novels
The list has been compiled by polling 82 foreign book critics on the best novels by British authors. What makes it relevant here is that The Lord of the Rings comes in 26. Curiously only 4 of the books preceding LotR on the list have been published after LotR. The only other Inklings-work to make the list is Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia as no. 97, which I, frankly, find somewhat surprising (that this would make the list at all).
See also David Bratman, Wednesday, 9 December 2015, ‘ah, the crafty Tolkien Society is at it again
A response to the news above ...
And also Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Thursday, 10 December 2015, ‘Why “The Lord of the Rings” coming in at no. 26 with the latest BBC Culture poll is a good thing

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 8 December 2015, ‘Mythgard Institute online courses announced for Spring 2016
Tolkien-related courses taught by Douglas A. Anderson and Andrew Higgins. And remember that Tolkien Society members get a 15% discount when auditing classes! So join the Tolkien Society today!

Curtis, Signum University, Saturday, 12 December 2015, ‘Registration open for Spring 2016 courses
What it says, really. Courses include ‘The Inklings and Science Fiction’ taught by Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Language Invention Through Tolkien: Exploring a Shared “Secret Vice”’ taught by Andrew Higgins, ‘Modern Fantasy II’ taught by Corey Olsen, and ‘Elementary Latin I’ taught by Philip Walsh.

Curtis, Mythgard Institute, Friday, 18 December 2015, ‘The Shaping of Middle-earth & Dracula chosen for Mythgard Academy
The next series of the free-access Mythgard Academy discussions will focus on The Shaping of Middle-earth and Dracula.

Eduardo Faúnez, Entomology Today, Wednesday, 23 December 2015, ‘New giant Stink Bug Named after J. R. R. Tolkien's Ancalagon the Black
On the naming of a Tessaratomid bug from New Guinea, Tamolia ancalagon, after Ancalagon the Black, and the reasons for this naming.


Events

Info on upcoming events (as of 1 January)
3 January 2016, International, ‘Tolkien Birthday Toast 2016’, The Tolkien Society – save the date!!

8-10 January 2016, Madingley Hall, Cambridge, ‘Tolkien's amazing world: understanding Middle-earth and how it came to be’, University of Cambridge, Institute of Continuing Education
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 9 November 2015, ‘Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education running Tolkien course this January

9 January 2016, Budapest, Hungary, ‘Tolkien Day 2016’, Hungarian Tolkien Society

24 January 2016, Willowmead Hall, Montana, ‘Tolkien Birthday Toast’, The Council of Westmarch

5 March 2016, Pembroke College, Cambridge, UK, ‘Minas Tirith Smial Annual Dinner’, Minas Tirith, the Cambridge Tolkien Society

21 - 25 March 2016, Seattle, WA, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference, PCA/ACA

24 March 2016, Oslo, Norway, ‘ArtheCon 2016’, Arthedain

25 March 2016, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day, The Tolkien Society – the 2016 theme is “Life, Death, and Immortality”.

8–9 April 2016, University of Vermont, USA, ‘Tolkien in Vermont 2016’, Tolkien Club of University of Vermont
Anna Smol, Monday, 19 October 2015, ‘CFP: Tolkien in Vermont 2016

28 May 2016, East Yorkshire, ‘Tolkien Tour: East Yorkshire’, The Tolkien Society

17 - 19 June 2016, Leiden | Den Haag, ‘Lustrum 2016: Unlocking Tolkien, Unquendor – The Dutch Tolkien Society

3 July 2016, Hilton Hotel, Leeds, ‘The Tolkien Society Seminar 2016’, The Tolkien Society
This year's theme will be ‘Life, Death, and Immortality’ in the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

18-20 July 2016, University of Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany, ‘International Conference on Medievalism – 2016: Tradition or Myth’, International Society for the Study of Medievalism &ndash: I am not sure if there will be anything specifically Tolkienian at this conference, but looking at the theme of the 2016 conference, I would very much expect that Tolkien will be mentioned ... more than once.

September? 2016, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot 2016’, The Tolkien Society — an Oxonmoot will be held ...


Essays and Scholarship

Robin Anne Reid, Saturday, 14 November 2015, ‘The question of Tolkien Criticism
I don't know how I managed to overlook Robin Reid's response when I discussed Schürer's article in last month's transactions, but here it is. I agree with Reid on most counts, but I also feel that, even with the impressive lists of MLA search results, she appears very defensive, attacking the weaknesses in Schürer's critique, rather than addressing the strong points.
When listing what she agrees with in Schürer's critique, Reid mentions that the aim should be to “make well-developed, well-written, comprehensive, and compelling arguments”, but she does not mention his other criterion, to “[enhance] our understanding of his work,” which I would read as enhancing our understanding and/or appreciation of Tolkien and/or his work. Also, I do not refute that fan activities constitute a valuable area of academic study, but Tolkien scholarship it is, in my firm opinion, not!
Reid asserts that she “simply [does] not agree that the academics who publish scholarship are not *generally* meeting these criteria”. However, if I add the criterion of the purpose of the criticism (not merely to make well-developed arguments showing how clever the critics are themselves), I have to disagree with Reid. A lot of Tolkien scholarship certainly does meet these criteria, but too much of it does, in my opinion, not.
We see a lot of comparative criticism and source criticism, some of which also makes “well-developed, well-written, comprehensive, and compelling arguments”, but a lot of which seems unconcerned with telling us anything relevant about Tolkien or how to read or appreciate his works.

Simon J. Cook, Thursday, 10 December 2015, ‘Tolkien's English Mythology (revisited)
Simon J. Cook, Tolkien Studies 12, Monday, 28 December 2015, ‘The Peace of Frodo: On the Origin of an English Mythology
Simon J. Cook is truly excellent when explaining the academic intellectual climate and the prevalent theories at the turn of the twentieth century; clear lucid and to the point. In his paper for Tolkien Studies, he particularly discusses the theories expressed by Hector Munro Chadwick in his 1907 The Origin of the English Nation.
Cook's source analysis unfortunately suffers from the same flaw as most other source criticism that I have seen: it fails to discuss how any particular source interacted with other sources in Tolkien's fertile mind, but instead presents it as a simplistic one-source, A leads to B kind of causation. This to the point where the absence of an element of the source is presented as ‘an implicit rejection of a key element of Chadwick’s interpretation of Northern traditions’; an argument that can only be sustained in an over-simplistic model of how sources influence literature. I know that this may be merely unfortunate language inspired by the tradition in source-criticism, and that it may be just me who is over-sensitive to be bothered by it.
However, Cook also proposes one way in which Tolkien's books can be interpreted as asterisk-myths and -legends leading to a mythological understanding of English and Nordic myths that, to a very large extent, resembles Chadwick's. This works excellently regardless of the extent to which one agrees with Cook's proposal that this was actually intended by Tolkien.

Medievalist.net, Sunday, 20 December 2015, ‘The First Book Reviewer
I'll admit that including this article in my transactions is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but on the other hand, reviews are a large part of what this is about, and getting to know a bit about the history of reviews is a very interesting fun fact thing to do.

Curtis, Mythgard Institute, Tuesday, 22 December 2015, ‘Father Christmas Letters Mythgard Academy discussion now available
For those of us who couldn't watch it in real-time, the Mythgard Academy discussions of Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas is now available on YouTube.

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, Friday, 25 December 2015, ‘Tolkien Notes 13
This time we get an insight into the kind of textual puzzles that face these two distinguished Tolkien scholars with respect to the textual history and intention of The Lord of the Rings. The specific question discussed here is the line break an indentation of the second half of the Tale of Years entry for Third Age 2951. Was that actually to have been an entry for TA 2952? Or …? Also Hammond and Scull discuss the Baynes / Tolkien Middle-earth map (see the last couple of months), where they refer to the French Tolkiendil site, which offers some discussion and commentary to go along with the high-resolution transcribed map posted last month at the Tolkien Society. Finally a reference to The Art of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien leads on to good wishes.

As Little Might be Thought
by Jenny Dolfen

Commentary

David Bratman, Thursday, 3 December 2015, ‘factual mistakes about The Lord of the Rings fostered by Jackson's movies
Spurred by recent additions (see under News above) to the list of factual mistakes about The Lord of the Rings that are fostered by Jackson's films, Bratman here lists three very common misconceptions – to which I dare say we could add more, even without listing ‘general falsities of spirit’ (too numerous to list, anyway) or those that people generally do realise are changes from the book.
And let me just explain that I think that Jackson was perfectly in his right to make any of these changes! This is creative license, it is what any adapting artist must do – make it their own work.  What bothers me is that people seem to conflate the two stories (Tolkien's and Jackson's) despite the wide gulf that exists between them. It is the misconception that they are the same story that gives rise to the mistakes, Bratman lists here.

Thomas J. West III, Thursday, 3 December 2015, ‘Reading “The Lord of the Rings:” “Prologue”
Follow this read-through of The Lord of the Rings by going through this month's posts. Make sure to read also the post on ‘The Shadow of the Past’, and ‘At the Sign of the Prancing Pony’ and ‘Strider’

Dominic Sandbrook, BBC, Thursday, 17 December 2015, ‘Did Tolkien write “juvenile trash”?
Let me hurry to say that Sandbrook answers the titular question with a firm rejection: “all the evidence shows that if one book, more than any other, captured the Western imagination after the mid-1950s, that book was The Lord of the Rings.” The piece is an interesting perspective; though it doesn't provide anything new on Tolkien himself, that is, for piece of this length, easily made up for by the comparisons to other authors and the wider societal trends.

Joel W. Hawbaker, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Network, Sunday, 20 December 2015, ‘The Catholic And The Convert – Part 2
This is a part of a multi-part series on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The approach is largely religious, though it generally doesn't give the impression that the religious angle is the only relevant perspective on the authors. Hawbaker has some interesting comments on how the two authors deal with the concept of the larger story. Unfortunately he doesn't include Tolkien's use, in published letters, of the word Author to refer to God. While the juxtaposing of Tolkien and Lewis is interesting, the discussion of Tolkien's view on the nature of evil is not particularly deep and contains some factual errors (e.g. about Smégol), and I would recommend reading a combination of Shippey (The Road to Middle-earth and Author of the Century) and Jonathan McIntosh (the 54-part blog series on Tolkien's metaphysics of evil) if you wish to understand this aspect better. In addition to part 2, part 1 and part 3 have also been published in December.

Lynn Forest-Hill, Soutfarthing Mathom, Tuesday, 22 December 2015, ‘December's meeting
A small divergence to last month's informal café moot (I wonder if Ian would agree to share those pictures in an upcoming post ...), and a step back to ‘The White Rider’ before moving on to ‘The King of the Golden Hall’ explains why the reading group didn't reach ‘Helm's Deep’. As always, the summary of the discussions is interesting.

Thomas J. West III, Saturday, 26 December 2015, ‘Can a Queer Feminist Enjoy Tolkien?
West here discusses his own enjoyment of Tolkien, and of The Lord of the Rings in particular, in the light of being, in his own words, a ‘queer feminist’. I particularly like his discussion of Éowyn as “Tolkien’s most masterful female creation”, but also his distinction between Tolkien's intention and his own response (to the relationship between Sam and Frodo – and I surely am 100% certain that Tolkien intended nothing sexual, whatsover, with that relationship).


Reviews and Book News

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, Wednesday, 2 December 2015, ‘"The Story of Kullervo" Deluxe Edition
News of the October 2016 publication of a deluxe HarperCollins edition of Tolkien's The Story of Kullervo.

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, Friday, 4 December 2015, ‘Tolkien Christmas
Recommendations for a Tolkienian Christmas. Besides the ‘big three’, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, the post lists Unfinished Tales, The Children of Húrin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, The Fall of Arthur, and Beowulf – a Translation and Commentaryalong with notes (much of which seems quoting from the books' descriptions – possibly from HarperCollins). A good choice of books, and great to see some of the non-Middle-earth books get some attention on lists like this.

Christina Scull, Monday, 7 December 2015, ‘Tolkien Biographies Continued, Part One
Expanding on their entry (seven pages) on biographies in the Reader’s Guide volume of their J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Christina Scull gives a very brief survey of a number of biographical books, including a few works that offer new research on Tolkien's life (adding titles to the ever-growing list ...), before moving on to a more detailed review of two biographies, J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend by Colin Duriez and Tolkien by Raymond Edwards. This review certainly puts the latter on my wish-list.

Wayne G. Hammond, Thursday, 10 December 2015, ‘Tolkien Biographies Continued, Part Two
Continuing from Christina Scull's post (q.v.), Hammond discusses two recent Tolkien-related biographies: The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski, and J.R.R. Tolkien: Codemaker, Spy-master, Hero by ‘Elansea’. For the full review (including any positive sides), read Hammond's post – here let it suffice to say that Hammond's reviews convinced me that my decision not to pursue either book was entirely correct.

Thomas J. West III, Tuesday, 22 December 2015, ‘Book Review: “The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams” (Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski)
West's review of the Zaleski book is considerably more positive than Wayne Hammond's, but it doesn't suffice for me to go near the book.

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 23 December 2015, ‘Tolkien Studies volume 12 published
That is, it is now available from Project Muse, and some subscribers seem to have got their physical copies already. I do hope that mine will arrive earlier than last year, when it came on 18 March :-)
See also Jason Fisher, Tuesday, 29 December 2015, ‘Tolkien Studies Volume 12
in which Fisher comments on the new issue.

Thomas J. West III, Monday, 28 December 2015, ‘Book Review: Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
I know well that I am terribly predictable in some ways, but I will not forego a chance to list and praise a review of Verlyn Flieger's Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World that calls it “a stellar example of sound literary scholarship” :-) I couldn't agree more with that assessment.

Anna Smol, Tuesday, 29 December 2015, ‘Life, Death, and Immortality in two authors
A review of a non-Tolkienian book, Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis, that nonetheless manages to place itself in a dialogue with Tolkien's treatment of life, death and immortality – which is incidentally the theme for the upcoming Tolkien Reading Day in March.

Douglas A. Anderson, Thursday, 31 December 2015, ‘End of the Year Chatter
In which Anderson looks back at the book reviews posted lately …-ish at the Journal of Tolkien Reaseach


Tolkienian Artwork

Joe Gilronan, Tuesday, 15 December 2015, ‘Concerning Hobbits
Another of Gilronan's utterly charming Shire pictures!

Peter Xavier Price, Wednesday, 16 December 2015, ‘Húrin in Captivity
Húrin chained to the chair on the slops of Thangorodrim.

Peter Xavier Price, Thursday, 17 December 2015, ‘Mirrormere
“Deep are the waters of Kheled-zaram” …

Tomás Hijo, Saturday, 19 December 2015, ‘Gollum (watercolour)

Tomás Hijo, Sunday, 20 December 2015, ‘Barrow wight

Jenny Dolfen, Tuesday, 22 December 2015, ‘As little might be thought
Here Jenny Dolfen is back in the First Age at the strange love that grew between Maglor and the twins of Eärendil and Elwing, Elros and Elrond.

Peter Xavier Price, Thursday, 24 December 2015, ‘He Knew Her For Erendis
Illustration of a passage from ‘Aldarion and Erendis’ in Unfinished Tales.

Tomás Hijo, Thursday, 24 December 2015, ‘Riddles in the Dark
Tomás Hijo has created a video showing him colouring in his ‘Riddles in the Dark’ picture.

Tsvetelina Krumova, Friday, 25 December 2015, ‘Merry Christmas! The Art of Elmenel: “Parma Eldaliéva I”, Contents
Enjoy these stunning pictures of the beautiful, hand-calligraphed Parma Eldaliéva!

Peter Xavier Price, Sunday, 27 December 2015, ‘Hithlum
Hithlum – Hisilómë – the Land of Mist ….

Concerning Hobbits
by Joe Gilronan

Other Stuff

Maria, Middle-earth News, Tuesday, 1 December 2015, ‘Middle-earth News Advent Calendar: Day 1
Middle-earth News have been running an advent calendar, starting out in the classic Christmas filking tradition with Smaug the dragon’s coming to town.

David Bratman, Tuesday, 8 December 2015, ‘Tuesday was ...
With some further pertinent comments relating to his post at the Tolkien Society website last month about Stephen Colbert.

Harry Lee Poe, Christianity Today, Thursday, 10 December 2015, ‘C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent
I think it is fair to accuse the headline of overselling the message here. The article is about a recording C.S. Lewis made in, probably, 1941 on ‘The Norse Spirit in English Literature’. This was meant to be broadcast in Iceland during the war, and the claim here is that it was at the instigation of the military intelligence. The author of this piece has purchased a record with the first and third parts, missing the other record with the second and fourth parts of Lewis' message.

Dana Lynn Abeln, Moviepilot, Monday, 21 December 2015, ‘Fan Tats: The Lord of the Rings
Dana shows, and is interviewed about, her tattoo of the Ring verse.

Maria, Middle-earth News, Monday, 21 December 2015, ‘Ecuadorian Trees That Walk Like Ents
... well, perhaps not quite like Ents, but still, this is a fun little piece of botany :-)
See also Karl Gruber, BBC, Wednesday, 16 December 2015, ‘The mysterious trees that walk
The original BBC article.


Maria, Middle-earth News, Wednesday, 23 December 2015, ‘Advent Calendar: Day 23
On December 23rd, we came to the Letters from Father Christmas, including a picture of one part of the 1925 letter.

Gerry Canavan, Salon, Thursday, 24 December 2015, ‘From “A New Hope” to no hope at all: “Star Wars,” Tolkien and the sinister and depressing reality of expanded universes
The main thrust of this piece is about Star Wars, and particularly about the newest instalment, The Force Awakens. The comparison to Tolkien's legendarium, however, is interesting, even if it only works to a certain level. The analysis extends one or two levels deeper than just reading LotR (to where you come to understand Galadriel's words about fighting the long defeat), but at a yet deeper level, you discover the hints of a final hope.
At that level every little victory against the darkness, every eucatastrophe, small or large, is a promise of a final victory. It is addressed, but only in a rather circumlocutory fashion, in the published Silmarillion both in the gift to Men (“[...]and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.”) and in Eru's admonition to Melkor that all his secret and evil thoughts were “but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory.”
See also the ‘comments to this piece at Canavan's own blog. E.g. the linked comment by David Bratman’


Rewarding Discussions

LotR Plaza: ‘www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?78495-Recognition-and-Estrangement-in-Tolkien
A highly interesting thread resulting from a statement by China Miéville on the literary powers of recognition and estrangement.

LotR Plaza: ‘Power of the one ring
A mostly story-internal (or ‘Ardalogical’) thread about the One Ring and its powers – and its lack of other powers (or abilities or qualities).

LotR Plaza: ‘Miar: spirit and body
Another story-internal thread about the self-arrayal of the Ainur in bodies, and how this varies.


In Print or By Subscription

Tolkien Calendar 2016, Tove Jansson, HarperCollins
I love Jansson's illustrations! The illustrations for the current Tolkien calendar were made for a Swedish edition of The Hobbit by Tove Jansson of ‘Muumin’ fame. Her Hobbit illustrations are at one time have some clear parallels to some aspects of the Muumin universe, but at the same time they are fundamentally different. I am particularly fond of her black and white drawings, which I find far more effective than the two colour illustrations that are included (Jansson is not the only Tolkien illustrator for whom I have found that I prefer their B/W drawings and sketches). Having enjoyed Fairburn's illustrations over the past year, I now look forward to enjoying this year's Christmas gift from my dear daughter.

Amon Hen 256, The Tolkien Society.
Lots of material about the goings-on of the Tolkien Society in this issue. Please consider supporting our Tolkien to the World project at the Tolkien Society web-site – the current project is to send copies of the proceeding from the 2005 The Ring Goes Ever On conference to relevant libraries. Also featured as some delightful reports from Oxonmoot (in September), and a review of ‘Elansea's’ J.R.R. Tolkien: Codemaker, Spy-master, Hero by Ted Nasmith, who admits being biased by his friendship with the authors (Lewis and Currie) before giving the book the most (the only, actually) positive review, I have seen yet.

Mallorn 56, The Tolkien Society.
With the newest issue of Mallorn appearing in my mailbox (the physical one) only on the day of New Year's Eve, I haven't had time for more than skimming the issue very cursorily. This issues seems to include rather more essays than usual, but of the usual rather wide range of quality. But Mallorn is not a peer-reviewed journal of scholarship, but rather the high-end journal of the Tolkien Society. This means that Mallorn could and should offer untried hands an outlet for their first essays in the craft of literary criticism essay-writing.

Beyond Bree, December 2015, Tolkien Special Interest Group.
Dale Nelson's article on ‘Days of the Craze’ (at no. 18 in this issue) is as always a good read, and manages to make the rest of the issue seem mere filler.


Web Sites

Peter Xavier Price, Illustrator.
Deviantart page
Facebook page
Peter Xavier Price has been featured as the artist behind the Tolkien Society Christmas card this year, which has generated interest in Price's excellent Tolkien illustrations.


The Blog Roll

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from December 2015

Dimitra Fimi, ‘Dr. Dimitra Fimi
Archive of posts from December 2015

Jason Fisher, ‘Lingwë -- Musings of a Fish
Archive of posts from December 2015

Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy
Archive of posts from December 2015

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from December 2015

Jonathan S. McIntosh, ‘The Flame Imperishable
Archive of posts from December 2015 – McIntosh is currently posting a series on Anselm's Cur Deus Homo.

Marcel Aubron-Bülles, ‘The Tolkienist
Archive of posts from December 2015

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from December 2015

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from December 2015

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from December 2015

Robin Anne Reid, her blog
Archive of posts from December 2015

Various, The Mythopoeic Society
Archive of news

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)
Archive of contributions for the on-going volume 2, issue 1

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from December 2015

Simon Cook, Ye Machine
Archive of posts from December 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from December 2015

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from December 2015

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from December 2015

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from December 2015

Various, ‘Middle-earth News
Archive of posts from December 2015

Sources

New sources in December 2015:
Robyn Anne Reid
Blog of Tolkien scholar Robin Anne Reid

Peter Xavier Price
Artist and Tolkien illustrator.


For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Tolkien Transactions LXIV

November 2015

All the usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) :-)

These transactions are posted on my blog, Parma-kenta (Enquiry into the books) and on the Tolkien Society web-site.

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: News
2: Events
3: Essays and Scholarship
4: Commentary
5: Reviews and Book News
6: Interviews
7: Tolkienian Artwork
8: Other Stuff
9: Rewarding Discussions
10: Web Sites
11: The Blog Roll
12: Sources
Tuor
by Jenny Dolfen
Available this month in high resolution at Patreon.com for Jenny's patreons.

News

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 3 November 2015, ‘Collection of Tolkien family letters and photographs on sale
For a collector with a quarter of a million pounds to spare ...

The Independent, Saturday, 7 November 2015, ‘At Dixie Forum, Dr. Bradford Lee Eden discusses J. R. R. Tolkien
Quoting from this article, “During his Dixie Forum presentation, Eden will not only discuss Tolkien in relation to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but will also look at Tolkien’s work as a medievalist and philologist and examine his theory of sub-creation. Additionally, Eden will talk about the concept of music throughout Tolkien's writings.”

Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 16 November 2015, ‘The Hobbit is one of the most expensive first editions
With The Hobbit coming in third and The Lord of the Rings coming in sixth. And these are, presumably, not even special first editions ...

Alexandru Micu, ZME Science, Friday, 20 November 2015, ‘Cave dwelling arachnid named after Tolkien's character
On the naming of a new species of harvestman found in a cave in Brazil, Iandumoema Smeagol.
See also David Bratman, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 23 November 2015, ‘seeking rapport with Colbert
Stephen Colbert, host on The Late Show, criticised the naming of the harvestman, showing the limits of his Tolkien knowledge in the process. David Bratman is careful to point out where Mr Colbert is wrong.


Events

Reports from past events
10 - 13 September 2015, St Antony's College, Oxford, ‘ Oxonmoot 2015’, The Tolkien Society
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Sunday, 8 November 2015, ‘Oxonmoot 2015 in Videos

29 October 2015, Weston Library, Oxford, ‘Tolkien's Legacy
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Wednesday, 11 November 2015, ‘Video of “The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien's Legacy” event released
MUST SEE!

6-8 November 2015, Maritim Hotel, Bonn, Germany, ‘RingCon 2015’, RingCon
Incidentally, it seems that there will be no RingCon in 2016.
Jenny Dolfen, Monday, 9 November 2015, ‘Ring*Con 2015

14 November 2015, University of Leicester, ‘60 Years of The Lord of the Rings, and Panel Discussion: ‘What's the Point of Fantasy Fiction?’


Info on upcoming events (as of 1 December)
5 December 2015, Birmingham, ‘Yulemoot 2015, The Tolkien Society
Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 6 October 2015, ‘Join the Tolkien Society for Yulemoot 2015 – 5th December in Birmingham

Nerdanel
by Jenny Dolfen
3 January 2016, International, ‘Tolkien Birthday Toast 2016’, The Tolkien Society – save the date!!

8-10 January 2016, Madingley Hall, Cambridge, ‘Tolkien's amazing world: understanding Middle-earth and how it came to be’, University of Cambridge, Institute of Continuing Education
Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 9 November 2015, ‘Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education running Tolkien course this January

5 March 2016, Pembroke College, Cambridge, UK, ‘Minas Tirith Smial Annual Dinner’, Minas Tirith, the Cambridge Tolkien Society

21 - 25 March 2016, Seattle, WA, USA, ‘PCA/ACA National Conference, PCA/ACA

24 March 2016, Oslo, Norway, ‘ArtheCon 2016’, Arthedain

25 March 2016, Worldwide, ‘Tolkien Reading Day, The Tolkien Society

8–9 April 2016, University of Vermont, USA, ‘Tolkien in Vermont 2016’, Tolkien Club of University of Vermont
Anna Smol, Monday, 19 October 2015, ‘CFP: Tolkien in Vermont 2016

28 May 2016, East Yorkshire, ‘Tolkien Tour: East Yorkshire’, The Tolkien Society

17 - 19 June 2016, Leiden | Den Haag, ‘Lustrum 2016: Unlocking Tolkien, Unquendor – The Dutch Tolkien Society

18-20 July 2016, University of Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany, ‘International Conference on Medievalism – 2016: Tradition or Myth’, International Society for the Study of Medievalism &ndash: I am not sure if there will be anything specifically Tolkienian at this conference, but looking at the theme of the 2016 conference, I would very much expect that Tolkien will be mentioned ... more than once.

September? 2016, Oxford, ‘Oxonmoot 2016’, The Tolkien Society — an Oxonmoot will be held ...


Essays and Scholarship

Jyrki Korpua, Tuesday, 3 November 2015, ‘Constructive Mythopoetics in J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium
A doctoral dissertation from the University of Oulo, which “discusses constructive mythopoetics in J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendarium, the mythopoetic logics and elements on which Tolkien’s texts and his fantasy world are constructed. I would love to have been able to say more than what is in the readily available abstract (see the linked site above), and the full dissertation can indeed be downloaded from this site, but my time has not allowed me to go through the dissertation yet.

Faramir
by Jenny Dolfen
Robin Anne Reid, Wednesday, 4 November 2015, ‘Praising or Burying Tolkien
Reacting to the on-line publication of an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin (given as a talk in 2000), Robin Reid takes a look at the positive aspect of the critical (in the broad sense) treatment of Tolkien in particular and science fiction and fantasy in general. Both views are, in a sense, true, and neither aspect can be ignored in any attempt at a balanced treatment of the history of the critical and academic treatment. Make sure to also read the comments, which are unusually good.

Karl E.H. Seigfried, Friday, 6 November 2015, ‘The Battle of Maldon
A translation of the poem into prose by Karl Seigfried. The poem is the basis for both Tolkien's own alliterative poem, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son (which deals with the aftermath of the battle), and for his essay on ofermod. Having a modern translation and explanation readily available may be a good companion to the explanation available in e.g. Tree and Leaf.

David Bratman, Saturday, 7 November 2015, ‘Report from Gondolin
Bratman explains about a theory on the history of arts, a theory which he calls ‘the hidden city’. This post appears to be, at least in part, a reaction to the post by Robin Reid referenced above, with Bratman attempting a more balanced view.

Daniel Helen, The Tolkien Society, Tuesday, 10 November 2015, ‘Tolkien's annotated map of Middle-earth transcribed
Following up on last month's news about a copy of the Middle-earth map annotated by both J.R.R. Tolkien and Pauline Baynes for the use of Baynes when she made her own Middle-earth map, here is a high-resolution transcribed version of the map.

Haleth
by Jenny Dolfen
Norbert Schürer, Los Angeles Review of Books, Friday, 13 November 2015, ‘Tolkien Criticism Today
In this article, Norbert Schürer critiques current Tolkien criticism, claiming that “the field of Tolkien studies is in a sad state.” Having introduced the field as caught between two views of Tolkien (that are presented at somewhat opposing or inconsistent), “the difficult litterateur and the successful populist”, Schürer moves on to more specific criticism through the vehicle of exemplifying his views by exemplifying from seven recent works in the field.
Schürer points out that while “[m]uch criticism features weak, underdeveloped arguments or poor writing,” other work make convincing arguments, but fail in making it clear why the critical analysis is significant – it fails to enhance our understanding of Tolkien and / or his work (Schürer mentions Tolkien's work, the addition of the author himself is mine). Schürer also points out some of the areas of Tolkien studies, such as e.g. comparison and influence studies, as having traps that many scholars fall into, making it necessary to be extra aware when working in these areas. But it is not all bad; besides the greats (both in terms of individual scholars and publications such as Mythlore and Tolkien Studies), Schürer also finds much to commend in some of the recent work, most significantly in Lee's (ed.) Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien and in parts of Tolkien: The Forest and the City (Conrad-O'Briain & Hynes, eds.), which, in Schürer's mind may indicate a future of Tolkien studies that is “not entirely bleak.”
Naturally, Schürer's critical review has caused some consternation in Tolkienian circles, but without committing to a view of Tolkien studies as a whole, I have to agree with much of the criticism Schürer offers – we do see far too much criticism that is weak and undedeveloped; or doesn't enhance our understanding (or appreciation) of Tolkien or his work; or tries to monopolise Tolkien for a specific cause; or merely tries to use Tolkien to preach to the choir. I would also agree with Schürer that these problems are particularly prominent within the areas that he identifies. Part of the problem may also be that the field is not just an academic field – amateurs (including myself!) contribute to the body of Tolkien studies, and while some of this is on par with the best of academic work (I need only mention the likes of Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond), most is not. This sets up a situation where the larger field is bottom-heavy in terms of quality, which may influence also the academic sub-set of the field.
See also Luke Baugher, Tom Hillman & Dominic J. Nardi, Jr., Mythgard Institute, Wednesday, 18 November 2015, ‘Tolkien Criticism Unbound: A response to Norbert Schürer
Unfortunately this response in itself demonstrates some of the problems that Schürer points out simply by missing the point. This does not necessarily mean that the points the authors raise are false, but they do not address the criticism that Schürer raises.


Commentary

Sarah Galo, The Guardian, Monday, 9 November 2015, ‘Margaret Atwood: 'In Tolkien, there are hardly any women at all'
A pity, really, that a few brief lines should be elevated to the headline of an interview that is really about Atwood's own authorship. I do wonder which two of the female characters of The Lord of the Rings Atwood remembers – there are quite a few more than the two she remembers (besides Shelob). I have speculated about the conundrum of Tolkien's female characters; while commenters very often exaggerate (like Atwood), the gender imbalance is real (just see the statistics page at Emil Johansson's LotR Project site), and it seems to me that Tolkien often either idealises or trivialises his female characters, whereas the male characters (possibly because there are so many more of them) also get to show a more realistic kind of heroism.

Michael Martinez, Thursday, 26 November 2015, ‘Taboo Tolkien: The Nordicist Claim on Middle-earth Refuted
Concerning Hobbits
by Joe Gilronan
In his update to this post, Martinez makes the purpose of the post very clear: “to produce an article that would rank highly in search results for queries about Tolkien and Nordicism.” This purpose has been achieved – at the moment of writing (2015-12-13) the post at the top of the search results on Google and third on Yahoo and Bing. The post also puts a selection of Tolkien's actual words in a top-ranking search results, which is a good thing. It is a pity that this seems to have been achieved at the cost of a coherent and well-developed argument (he acknowledges himself that it is digressive), but such may be the needs of search-engine optimisation, of which Martinez is certainly an expert.

Anna Smol, Friday, 27 November 2015, ‘Tolkien's nod to the medieval homage ritual in LotR
Anna Smol wanted to post some of the images, she had used for her paper at the Tolkien 2005 conference, not least in relation to the current sale of the proceedings (see below). Smol of course also takes the opportunity to say a bit more about the topic, and to expand on parts of the imagery, invoking a medieval homage ritual.


Reviews and Book News

Shaun Gunner, The Tolkien Society, Monday, 2 November 2015, ‘Now available for £10: Celebrating 50 years of The Lord of the Rings
The proceedings from the 2005 conference, The Ring Goes Ever On is now being sold for only £10 from the Tolkien Society. In addition to the many excellent papers by respected scholars, one of the great things about such proceedings as these is that they bring together a large variety of approaches and perspectives on Tolkien and his work. This is well worth the price – including overseas postage!
See also Francesca Barbini, Sci-fi & Fantasy Network, Tuesday, 3 November 2015, ‘Tolkien 2005: The Ring Goes Ever On
Anna Smol, Sunday, 8 November 2015, ‘Tolkien 2005 Proceedings on sale

Jason Fisher, Wednesday, 4 November 2015, ‘A new review of my book — from a surprising reviewer!
Jason Fisher's book (as editor), Tolkien and the Study of His Sources, has been reviewed in The Journal of Inklings Studies (Vol. 5, No. 2, October 2015). What Fisher finds surprising is a combination of a very well-written review and it being written by an unknown undergraduate. Like Fisher, I will look forward to, hopefully, seeing more work in and on Tolkien studies from Faith Liu.

Samwise the Gardner
by Joe Gilronan
John D. Rateliff, Journal of Tolkien Research, Saturday, 7 November 2015, ‘The Hobbit Party (2014) by Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards
Regular readers will know that I have discussed this book previously – not because I have read the book, but because I have read what the authors have written on-line, describing their work and conclusions. Based on this, I have not been kind, but have accused the authors of trying to press-gang Tolkien into supporting their own political agenda. Having said this (perhaps even repeated it too often), I admit that I am thankful to see that conclusion shared by John Rateliff in this review of the actual book. He does find som small lights in the darkness (my phrase), but these seem unrelated to the points the authors wish to make. This is not Tolkien research, or Tolkien studies, or Tolkien scholarship of any kind – this is mere political propaganda attempting to hijack Tolkien (again, this is my phrasing, not Rateliff's).

Anna Smol, Wednesday, 11 November 2015, ‘Approaches to Teaching Tolkien's LotR has arrived (for real this time)
On the arrival of the book, Approaches to Teaching Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and other works edited by Leslie Donovan. Smol has an essay in part two of the book, but she also provides an overview of the contents as well as scans of the full table of contents. Very interesting book!

John Houghton, Journal of Tolkien Research, Friday, 13 November 2015, ‘Tolkien's Intellectual Landscape (2015) by E.L. Risden
Another excellent review in the open, on-line Journal of Tolkien Research
. This time John Houghton has reviewed the recent Tolkien's Intellectual Landscape by E.L. Risden. Despite a few weaknesses, Houghton finds the book “easy to commend” and is “glad to own” it. An excellent review, and certainly one that puts the book on to my wish list.

Helcaraxë
by Jenny Dolfen
Daniel Helen, Friday, 13 November 2015, ‘Volume 5 of Journal of Inklings Studies published
Announcing volume 5 of the journal and listing the contents, while noting pieces with a direct relation to Tolkien. The latter category includes works by Nelson Goering (on the metre of three of Tolkien's alliterative poems) and William Simpson (on Saruman's science), and the review by Faith Liu of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources mentioned by Jason Fisher (see above).

Wayne Hammond, Sunday, 15 November 2015, ‘Oxford Companion to Children's Literature
Wayne Hammond reviews the new edition of The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. In addition to more general comments (and citing other reviews), Hammond comments more extensively on the entries on Pauline Baynes, Arthur Ransome, and J.R.R. Tolkien, all of whom Hammond is an expert on.

Medievalist.net, Sunday, 15 November 2015, ‘Why Tolkien's Beowulf is an ‘amazing book but a terrible translation’
Reporting, quoting, and paraphrasing the current Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Andy Orchard, this article summarises from a talk Orchard gave in Toronto on ‘Tolkien’s Beowulf and Lessons from History’ where Orchard called Tolkien's prose Beowulf, which was published last year, ‘a horrible, horrible, horrible translation’, while insisting also that the notes published alongside Tolkien's translation are ‘brilliant’.


Interviews

Nellas is Brought Before Thingol
by Jenny Dolfen
Patrick Curry, Journal of Tolkien Research, Wednesday, 4 November 2015, ‘Patrick Curry interview with Tom Shippey
description

Lauren Sarner, Inverse, Tuesday, 24 November 2015, ‘Jane Johnson, publisher of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin
Jane Johnsen has, among many other things, been at George Allen & Unwin Publishers, where she became the editor with special responsibility for the Tolkien list. In this interview, she describes her career, including a number of experiences with more or less direct relations to Tolkien.


Tolkienian Artwork

Joe Gilronan, Monday, 2 November 2015, ‘Goodbye Gandalf
This must surely be Bilbo leaving Bag End and saying goodbye to the old wizard.

Joe Gilronan, Tuesday, 10 November 2015, ‘The Road to Bree
I rather like the mixture of the familiar Shire-holes with something else in this picture, though I am not entirely sure what Middle-earth location it is supposed to depict ... presumably somewhere in Bree-land.

Ted Nasmith, Tuesday, 10 November 2015, ‘Autrou and the Woods Witch
And illustration of a scene from Tolkien's Lay of Aotrou and Itroun. It is absolutely wonderful to see illustrations of more of Tolkien's non-Middle-earth works. Thank you, Ted Nasmith, for this!
for this, Itroun Waits in Vain
And for this, still from the same day: Aotrou Pursues the White Deer

Joe Gilronan, Monday, 23 November 2015, ‘Concerning Hobbits
description

Old Tom Bombadil
Had a Merry Wedding

by Jenny Dolfen
Joe Gilronan, Tuesday, 24 November 2015, ‘A Visit From Gandalf
Gandalf and Bilbo in the Shire.

Tomás Hijo, Tuesday, 24 November 2015, ‘‘The Battle of the Pelennor Fields’ is ready
The large printing of Tomás Hijo's Battle of the Pelennor Fields is now available ... it certainly looks a wonderful piece of Tolkienian art!

Joe Gilronan, Tuesday, 24 November 2015, ‘Hobbiton
“The Shire looking toward Bag End”


Other Stuff

Dimitra Fimi, Sunday, 29 November 2015, ‘Recent Tolkien events and publications – Autumn 2015
This post by Dimitra Fimi is so crammed full of all kinds of good stuff that I couldn't decide where to put it, and therefore it has ended up here. The post summarises Fimi's own recent activities as well as the more significant events in academic Tolkien studies in the autumn of 2015 – conferences, papers, books, articles and more. A must read summary!


Rewarding Discussions

LotR Plaza, ‘Tolkien and the Myth of Britain
Some interesting bits about the sense of identity and place in Tolkien's work with particular emphasis on the idea of Britain.

rec.arts.books.tolkien, , ‘Tolkien and Romance
A discussion about how to understand The Lord of the Rings (yes, again :-) )


Web Sites

Wheaton College, Tolkien Database
This has, of course, been around for a while, but I wanted to recall it to everyone as it is a most excellent resource for searching for papers on Tolkienian matters.
Hobbiton
by Joe Gilronan

The Blog Roll

These are blogs you really should be following yourself if you're interested in Tolkien ...
Contents from these blogs will only be reported here if there is something that I find particularly interesting, or posts that fit with a monthly theme. However, you will find below links to monthly archives of posts for months where the blog has featured interesting posts with at least some Tolkien connection. In some cases you may find a headline for a post, if I wish to recommend it particularly.

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Archive of posts from November 2015

Dimitra Fimi, ‘Dr. Dimitra Fimi
Archive of posts from November 2015

Jason Fisher, ‘Lingwë -- Musings of a Fish
Archive of posts from November 2015

John D. Rateliff -- ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium
Archive of posts from November 2015

David Bratman, ‘Kalimac's Journal
Archive of posts from November 2015

Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny's Sketchbook
Archive of posts from November 2015

Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Archive of posts from November 2015

Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)
Archive of contributions for the on-going volume 2, issue 1

Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Archive of posts from November 2015

Southfarthing Mathom
Archive of posts from November 2015

Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Archive of posts from November 2015

Copperhead
by Jenny Dolfen

Grey Havens Group, ‘The Grey Havens Group
Archive of posts from November 2015

Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers
Archive of posts from November 2015

Various, ‘Middle-earth News
Archive of posts from November 2015

Sources

New sources in November 2015

For older sources, see http://parmarkenta.blogspot.com/p/sources.html