Thesis Theater: Rob Gosselin – Exploring Capacity & Applicability in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sub-creation

Signum University Thesis Theater
Join us on Monday, February 26 at 7pm EST for a Thesis Theater with Signum MA graduate Rob Gosselin.


Brenton Dickieson
Lecturer; Preceptor
Rob Gosselin
Rob Gosselin
Director of Signum Academy


February 26, 2018 - 7:00 pm EST


February 26, 2018 - 8:00 pm EST

Thesis Theater Recording

Event Announcement

Join us on Monday, February 26 at 7pm EST for a Thesis Theater with Signum MA graduate Rob Gosselin, who will discuss his recently completed thesis, “J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sub-creative Vision: Exploring the Capacity and Applicability in Tolkien’s Concept of Sub-creation.” The discussion will be facilitated by Signum University’s Brenton Dickieson, who served as Rob’s Thesis Director.

Thesis Abstract

Sub-creation is an idea fundamental to understanding Tolkien’s oeuvre. In his draft letter to Peter Hastings, Tolkien writes the remarkable statement that “the whole matter [of my myth] from beginning to end is mainly concerned with the relation of Creation to making and sub-creation” (Letters 188). However, Tolkien’s ideas about sub-creation continue to perplex readers and scholars of his work.

This essay represents my effort to address the apparent obscurities associated with Tolkien’s concept, which has also had a significant impact on myself and my creative work. I begin my analysis by examining Tolkien’s three main “sub-creation texts”: (1) His essay “On Fairy-stories”; (2) His short story “Leaf by Niggle”; (3) His poem “Mythopoeia.” In addition to Tolkien’s sub-creation “trilogy” of texts, I explore the mythic story of Aulë’s making of the Dwarves in The Silmarillion because Aulë’s story provides a vivid depiction of Tolkien’s vast sub-creative vision and serves as an embodiment of his concept of the sub-creator or “little maker” (“Mythopoeia” 128). Finally, I make an autoethnographic turn, examining my own story of sub-creation in which I demonstrate my own attempts to apply Tolkien’s sub-creative vision in my life through my self-publishing efforts as an indie game-designer as well as through the writing of this thesis.

My controlling purpose in the essay is to articulate the expansiveness of Tolkien’s sub-creative vision and the sustaining significance of the poem “Mythopoeia” to understanding sub-creation because it universalizes Tolkien’s concept of the sub-creator.

About the Presenter

Rob Gosselin received his B.Ed. and his B.S. from the University of Regina and his M.A. at Signum University. He is currently a senior science teacher in Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, where he lives with his wife Jenny and their two kids. Aside from teaching and his scholarly endeavours at Signum, Rob can often be found designing a new game for his game company, Birdlight Games, or learning to play a new musical instrument. He is a lifelong lover of games, a cappella, hiking, Ultimate Frisbee, slacklining, dance, and chess.

Suggested Readings