Mythmoot II: Back Again took place at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum, Maryland on December 13-15, 2013. The program featured a special viewing of the second Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug, as well as guest speakers, musicians, artists, a fantastic banquet, and also fun and interactive sessions for fans and academics alike, as well as panel presentations on the fantasy genre.

Call for Papers

Mythmoot II sought proposals for 15-20 minute papers on Tolkien and other fantasy-related literature and media. First-time presenters were especially encouraged to submit proposals. All proposals relating to fantasy were considered; themes of particular interest included:

      • The Hobbit– reflections on the book, its history, or adaptations in media, art or gaming;
      • Beyond Middle-earth– Tolkien’s non-Middle-earth writings, including his children’s stories, scholarship, short stories and poetry;
      • A Game of Games– analysis of fantasy gaming from pen-and-paper to MMORPGs;
      • Through Silver Glass– the reworking of fantasy themes in TV and film.

Page through the proceedings below by clicking on the squares above the cover or check out the work of a specific presenter by using the presenter list. Happy reading!

Early Modern English inflectional morphology: not just another pretty spreadsheet / Alden, L.F.S. (Laurie Frances Sparrow)

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 12
Language: English

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Abstract:

Tolkien uses a light but masterful hand with Early Modern English grammar markers.  From bebothered dwarves to a town that throve on Long Lake, these elements suggest time, place, sophistication, social class, intimacy, and even character actions.  This presentation combs The Hobbit for these treasures and uncover one of Christopher Tolkien’s more difficult, beautifully executed editing tasks found in the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth.

Teaching Middle-earth to middle school students in the middle of Alaska / Binkley, DMae D.

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 7
Language: English

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This paper shares the experiences of the author presenting Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to middle school students in Fairbanks, Alaska using both the books and Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation.

Similarities between The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and Dune by Frank Herbert / Brierly, N. Trevor.

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 7
Language: English

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This paper explores the similarities between Frank Herbert’s Dune and The Lord of the Rings, in terms of plot, characters, and themes including heroism, concern for the environment and how people affect and are affected by it, and addiction.

Internet memes as crowdsourced movie review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Butler, Michelle Markey.

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

Abstract:

Internet memes — recurring images with different captions — are a relatively new form of entertainment, emerging in the last decade. It is therefore interesting and perhaps a bit surprising that the works of Tolkien are referenced more frequently in memes than newer works that are also the subject of contemporary film or television adaptation such as Harry Potter, the Game of Thrones, or Twilight. There are many purposes driving the production and consumption of internet memes. For instance, humor, one-upmanship, and in-group identification and validation. Among these elements, I have argued elsewhere, is crowdsourced literary criticism. This paper examines memes focusing upon the film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. These memes, I argue, do function as crowdsourced criticism. But while the critique inherent in LOTR memes tends towards comparative analysis of book and movies, Hobbit memes serve as in-depth movie review, focusing upon specific moments and elements of the movie that engender strong reactions, either positive or negative. “I am going on an adventure” and “Bilbo’s contract” are both moments from the movie that appear repeatedly in memes. But arguably the most popular meme from An Unexpected Journey is “Never have I been so wrong.” Consequently it will be the main site of this paper’s attention. What does the focus upon and treatment of this moment from the movie suggest about audience reaction to and evaluation of both the moment itself and An Unexpected Journey as a whole?

God and Ilúvatar: Tolkien’s use of biblical parallels and tropes in his cosmology / Hensler, Kevin R.

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 11
Language: English

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This paper examines the cosmogonic episodes contained in the Ainulindalë and the Quenta Silimarillion, alongside those found in the Bible.

King Arthur was an elf! An imaginary, composite, Inklings Arthuriad / Higgins, Sørina

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 20
Language: English

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The recent publication of The Fall of Arthur, an unfinished poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, revealed a startling, previously-unknown aspect of Tolkien’s legendarium. The key is found in notes Tolkien left about how he intended the fragmentary Fall of Arthur to continue (included in Christopher Tolkien’s editorial matter). In the final confrontation, Mordred would fatally wound Arthur, Arthur would kill Mordred, and Arthur would be carried away to the West for healing. Lancelot, arriving too late, would set sail into the West, searching for his king, never to return.

In other words, Lancelot is Eärendel. He sails into the West, seeking a lost paradise: Avalon, Tol Eressëa, or the Land of Faery. If Tolkien had finished this poem, he could have woven it together with The Silmarillion so that his elvish history mapped onto the legends of Arthur, forming the mythological and linguistic foundation on which “real” English history and language were based. In addition, he could have collaborated with Lewis and Williams on their Arthurian legends, creating a totalizing myth greater than any they wrote individually.

This paper, then, examines the theological, literary, historical and linguistic implications of an imaginary, composite, Inklings Arthuriad by comparing the Arthurian geography and characters of The Fall of Arthur, The Silmarillion, and The Lord of the Rings with “Lancelot,” Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis and Taliessin Through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars by Charles Williams.

Beyond the circles of the World: death and the West in Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium / Hunt, Rebekah

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 10
Language: English

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This paper examines the theme of death in Tolkien’s work. It argues that the treatment of death, and the multiple perspectives from which it is viewed, is intended to impart the theme of ultimate hope to readers.

“Now that I see him, I do pity him”: Gollum’s literary and cinematic development(s) / Johnson, Thomas

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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Peter Jackson’s 2002 film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (1954) has gathered a great deal of attention from both academic and fan communities for its portrayal of the character of Gollum. Though the detailed rendering of the character through motion capture technology has been generally praised, scholars like David Bratman and Kristin Thompson disagree as to whether Jackson’s Gollum is reflective of Tolkien’s vision for the character. What these discussions often ignore, however, is that Tolkien’s conception of Gollum changed significantly as he wrote and revised The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, resulting in a more ethically compromised character than initially introduced to the reading public. In Jackson’s Towers, various elements of “mise-en-scène” (Hutcheon 55) have the effect of accentuating Gollum’s humanity and pitiable qualities, and of highlighting the character’s virtues without softening his malevolent qualities. Motivated by considerations both creative and commercial, Jackson and his collaborators make a number of changes and expansions in adapting their source material that, explained in the terms of adaption theory, grant greater “access to” Gollum’s “consciousness” (qtd in Hutcheon 55) than the narrator of LOTR allows. Jackson maintains this proximity by capitalizing on Gollum’s status as a victim of physical abuse at the hands of others, and of self-inflicted psychological abuse. Using a theoretical framework derived from scholarly works of adaptation studies, like Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation (2nd ed. 2013), this presentation examined how Jackson’s cinematic depiction of Gollum both expands on Tolkien’s characterization while simultaneously reemphasizing the admirable aspects of the character present in the first edition of The Hobbit.

Fathers of fantasy: an appreciation of the creativity of J. R. R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson / Kennedy, Shellie

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 11
Language: English

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This paper examines Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and uses Tolkien’s narrative to defend and appreciate Jackson’s cinematic decisions in his work.

Red comets and red stars: Tolkien, Martin, and the use of astronomy in fantasy series / Larsen, Kristine

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 14
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio — Full Text

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth tales are often invoked when discussing George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Both are certainly based in detailed “secondary worlds” and recount the complex interactions between multiple cultures and kingdoms, and in both the natural world plays an important role (e.g. the extreme seasons of Westeros and the forests of Middle-earth). As an astronomy professor, I have spent the past decade analyzing the science of Middle-earth, especially Tolkien’s masterful use of astronomy to flesh-out his subcreation as a “real” universe. Given the increasing popularity of Martin’s series (due in no small part to the wildly successful HBO series Game of Thrones), it is logical (at least in my mind) to explore to what extent astronomical objects and observations play a role in Martin’s subcreation.

As seasons have an astronomical cause in our primary world, one obvious place to begin would be the extreme and unpredictable seasons of Martin’s world, and a number of astronomers have indeed written papers trying to find a reasonable scientific explanation for this phenomenon. However, given the fact that Martin has plainly stated that the seasons have a magical, rather than scientific, origin, this line of investigation is of limited interest. In contrast, there are a number of other astronomical allusions in Martin’s saga, such as the Red Comet, numerous constellations, and the apparent motions of the planets, allusions which clearly mirror the real world and also resonate with Tolkien’s writings. This is not surprising, since both worlds seem to reflect a geocentric, medieval cosmology (referred to as “the discarded image” by Tolkien’s friend and fellow fantasy writer C.S. Lewis). This paper will compare and contrast these aspects of Martin’s and Tolkien’s universes, including observations of the night sky, the role of astrology and heavenly portents, constellations, the importance of planets and their apparent motions, and the nature of the sun and moon.

Essential dragons beyond Tolkien’s Middle-earth / Legard, Sara

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 15
Language: English

Full Text — Powerpoint Presentation

Abstract:

In his essay, “Beowulf: The Monster and the Critics,” Tolkien states that, “real dragons, essential both to the machinery and the ideas of a poem or tale, are actually quite rare.” In Tolkien’s Middle-earth stories they are present and rare, with perhaps only two, Glaurung and Smaug, having essential roles.  But several of Tolkien’s extra-Middle-earth stories and poems have essential dragons:  “The Hoard,” Farmer Giles of Ham, “The Dragon’s Visit,” and Roverandom, Also outside the legendarium, Tolkien delivered lectures and academic essays that featured the use and effect of dragons in literature.  This paper distills three lectures that Tolkien gave on dragons and uses their tenets to examine the dragons in Tolkien’s prose and poetry beyond Middle-earth.

The law of the rings: re-evaluating politics in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth / Nardi, Jr., Dominic J.

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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Political scientists have often struggled with the depiction of politics in Middle-earth. The heroes fight to restore monarchy and seem skeptical of modern political values, such as equality and democracy. Some political scientists allege that Tolkien’s legendarium demonstrates a “naïve” faith in enlightened despotism. In this paper, I reevaluate politics in Middle-earth in light of recent political science research and find that the two are surprisingly compatible.

The proverbs of Middle-earth / Rowe, David

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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This presentation was a 15-minute preview of David Rowe’s book, The Proverbs of Middle-earth and included:

  • An introduction to proverbs as part of oral tradition, and their role as vessels of transmission and embodiments of worldview.
  • The unique status of Tolkien within English literature as a creator of ‘fictional proverbs’.
  • Tolkien’s use of proverbs to elucidate the nature of, and contrasts between, the various wisdom traditions of Middle-earth.
  • A case-study on a proverbial exchange between Elrond and Gimli on the nature of vows, showing how each of their wisdom traditions had led them to different conclusions, and had been embodied in proverbs.

“A madman with a blue box”: Doctor Who as fairy-tale / Sas, Katherine

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Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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Now celebrating its fiftieth year, Doctor Who has continued to entertain viewers of all ages since it first premiered and has constantly reinvented itself while remaining a simple tale of a “madman with a box.” Neil Gaiman has called Doctor Who “a fairytale, with fairytale logic,” while current show-runner Steven Moffat has spoken of the show’s “very simple myth.” This paper proposes that it is Doctor Who’s essentially mythic and fairy-tale qualities that have led to its continued success and will examine these elements alongside the attributes and criteria which define the fairy-tale genre as elucidated by J.R.R. Tolkien in his ground-breaking essay “On Fairy-Stories.” Tolkien’s four “gifts” of fairy-stories (Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, and Consolation) and his concept of “eucatastrophe” will be explained in relation to Doctor Who, and specific examples from the show’s narrative and dialogue will be drawn to exemplify how Doctor Who embraces or modifies these characteristics. The show’s mythic qualities will be discussed in relation to C.S. Lewis’ discussion of mythic fiction from his classic work An Experiment in Criticism. The paper will incorporate relevant remarks from other notable scholars, theorists and practitioners of the modern fairy-tale as well as insight into Doctor Who specifically from several of the modern show’s writers. Due to time constraints the discussion will be limited to the new Doctor Who which began in 2005 and continues to the present, although the paper will strive to contribute towards the understanding of why and how this show has continued to survive and indeed thrive in the global popular consciousness for the last fifty years.

Bard the Bowman and the human race: sources and comparisons / Tomas, Isaac Juan

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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J.R.R. Tolkien has established a series of well delineated and enduring human heroes: Aragorn, Tuor, Húrin,Túrin, etc. Although their stories are full of sorrow and suffering, they are rarely rewarded with victory after so many works and deeds. But may it be small and short victory or complete defeat, their stories seem to be linked by a recognizable thread that seems to be originated by their belonging to the human race. Thus, it is possible to note several common characteristics present in them all that could be attributed to race, such as charisma over Elves and Men, a predisposition to sacrifice that tends to envision the survival of the self as non important, and an apparent difficulty to make the right decisions, just to say some of them. These are also present in the “grim-voiced” and “grim-faced” Bard the Bowman.

This paper will focus first in finding out how these major characteristics of Men are depicted in Bard. Contrast and comparison with other Men heroes will help to shape their presence in The Hobbit through Bard. Once the comparison is defined, the paper will try to find out why Bard and the rest of Men heroes seem to possess these similar characteristics and if they can be attributed without discussion to race.

Finally, there will be an exploration of the sources that have inspired Tolkien to depict these humans heroes so similarly from two opposed points of view: internal sources found in the Legendarium that concern specifically the origins of Men and their relationship to the Shadow; and external sources which can be found in the literature of the North, especially those found in Icelandic Sagas, such as Egill Skallagrimsson by Snorri Sturluson.

Frodo and Faramir: mirrors of chivalry / Wagner, Constance G. J.

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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In discussion of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, much is often made of Frodo’s knightly qualities as Ringbearer (and so burdened by the Quest) and also those displayed by Faramir, second son of Denethor, Ruling Steward of Gondor. In my paper “Frodo and Faramir: Mirrors of Chivalry”, I take that observation to a deeper level by illustrating the chivalric qualities of both characters as required of a knight of the realm according to Geoffroi de Charny, a knight of France during the Hundred Years’ War. A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry, a handbook for working warriors written by Charny for France’s Company of the Star, reveals what every good knight must know and do. This paper shows how both Frodo and Faramir reflect that, becoming in essence “mirrors of chivalry” – and kindred souls. My defense is illustrated with examples drawn from both the epic novel and the celebrated films, in addition to citing Charny’s guidebook for chivalric behavior as framework for the discussion.

At the root of the tree of tales: using comparative myth and “On Fairy-Stories” to analyze Tolkien’s cosmology / Walls-Thumma, Dawn M.

Format: PDF
Number of pages: 9
Language: English

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This paper explores the cosmogony of Middle-earth using the ideas that Tolkien put forth in “On Fairy-Stories,” first examining connections between various world myths and the creation myth of Arda, and applying the theories of mythologists like Joseph Campbell and Charles H. Long to establish the link to real-world elements that Tolkien professed essential when creating a believable Secondary World. It also focuses on the variations from cosmogonical archetypes that make the Ainulindalë an essential text in Tolkien’s legendarium, looking particularly at how Tolkien’s theory of sub-creation is expressed in his cosmogony for Middle-earth.

Masks of Moloch: demands of sacrifice in speculative fiction and film / Weyant, Curtis A.

Format: PDF
Language: English

Abstract & Presenter Bio

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Before Milton, Moloch was known in Western culture primarily as an Semitic deity who demanded the immolation of children. Milton’s characterization of Moloch in Paradise Lost as a demon who advocates outright war against Heaven shifted the pre-Enlightenment view of Moloch by infusing him with a modern metaphorical meaning tied to warfare that previously did not exist. Over time, references to Moloch as a military motivator grew, especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when massively destructive wars with high death tolls took place across the world. This era also saw the rise and refinement of modern speculative fiction. Since the late nineteenth century, a variety of writers (e.g., Alexandr Kuprin, Karel Čapek and Aldous Huxley) and directors/producers of visual media (e.g., Fritz Lang, Joss Whedon) have used variations of Moloch in both his classical sacrificial aspect and his Miltonian militaristic attitude, sometimes in combination, to comment on the complexities of contemporary social developments, in particular industrialization and large-scale warfare. This paper looks at Moloch’s various incarnations in speculative works over the past century and a half and argues that the persistence of such references align with the growth of institutional power, particularly as applied to government and industry.