Three recent graduates from Signum University’s MA in Language & Literature will present their theses in the March 2017 Thesis Theater. Abstracts are provided below:
Kate Neville: The story of Beren and Lúthien is called by J. R. R. Tolkien “the chief of the stories of the Silmarillion.” And while Lúthien of the published Silmarillion is arguably one of the most powerful characters in that history, her original incarnation, little Tinúviel, was a very different Elfmaiden. My thesis is, in essence, a biography of Lúthien Tinúviel, from her 1917 appearance in The Book of Lost Tales, through 1931, when his final notes on the Lay of Leithian declare “Lúthien became mortal.” This chronological study examines the different elements of Tolkien’s life which bring her character to this crucial point: his other creative writing, his scholarly interests, and events in his personal life. The Lay of Leithian was the first work Tolkien turned to after he finished The Lord of the Rings, and he continued to write on the problem of the differing fate of Men and Elves late into his life (cf. “Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth”). A fuller understanding of the leaf which is Lúthien Tinúviel will deepen our understanding of the tree which is Tolkien’s legendarium.
Cynthia Smith: “The Political Philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien”. Tolkien had two sides to his personality: one optimistic and one quite pessimistic. Interestingly enough, this ties in very well to classical realism and classical liberalism in political philosophy. This paper looks at these concepts, how Tolkien’s history and politics tie into them, and how Tolkien’s Catholicism goes a long way into explaining his outlook on the world.
Courtney Petrucci: This thesis aims to investigate why C.S. Lewis brings humans into Outer Space in order to Recover a Christian worldview during a time of war. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy was published throughout the WWII era, and his readers were all too familiar with advances in technological warfare and biological experimentation as part of the Nazi agenda. In order to Recover a Christian worldview during such a tumultuous time, Lewis’s first two installments of the trilogy bring humans into Outer Space in order to reconnect with the Medieval Cosmic Chain of Being. Malacandra and Perelandra depict all beings coexisting in the Great Dance, or the interconnected web of beings that Maleldil creates. In the last installment, Lewis’s N.I.C.E., a pseudo-scientific group whose purpose is to create god-like, immortal humans, reflects such technology and experimentation carried out in some concentration camps during WWII. Lewis’s return to Earth in the last installment of the trilogy calls for readers to acknowledge our broken Chain of Being and Recover our faith in God rather than attempt to become gods ourselves. This thesis explores Lewis’s science fiction through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Recovery lens, providing a connection between Lewis’s own Christian worldview, the potential of human self-abolition, and Recovering the Cosmic Chain of Being for modern humans.