From Aug. 8 – 11, the Mythopoeic Society is hosting Mythcon 45 at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts — and Signumites will be showing up in spades. Mythgard students and professors will be traveling to the conference from across the United States, and several of them are scheduled to present papers on a variety of topics.
In addition, Signum University founder and president Dr. Corey Olsen’s book Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ has been nominated for the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies for the second year in a row.
In anticipation of the upcoming event, the Eagle asked Mythgardian attendees what they are most looking forward to at the conference:
Kris Swank is looking forward to presenting her paper on “Harry Potter as Dystopian Literature,” an exploration of the Harry Potter series that focuses on dystopian genre tropes such as government surveillance, information control, circumscription of individual freedoms, and the lack of due process and humane punishment. About the conference itself, Kris says, “Mythcon is a great place to hang out with lovers of the fantasy genre, learn some new things, and just have fun for a couple of days — but of course I’m most looking forward to seeing my Mythgard peeps, and Corey Olsen and Verlyn Flieger! We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to take classes from them, but it’s even better to get the chance to hang out with them in a more relaxed environment. As just regular people, they are warm, welcoming and hilarious.”
Kat Sas, who originally was unable to attend, is now excited about getting a chance to brush shoulders with other Inklings scholars and lovers of fantasy. “The idea that I could attend a conference with like-minded people and even meet these writers whose work had been so helpful in elucidating my own thoughts and feelings about the stories I loved was mind-blowing,” Kat writes on her blog. “I was thrilled to hear that Mythcon is coming to the East Coast. Now, not only am I looking forward to being initiated into this community of Inklings fans and to meeting several people whose work I hugely admire, I’ll have the good fortune of spending time with students and friends that I’ve come to know through the Mythgard Institute.”
Brandon Young says he’s looking forward to meeting Dr. Michael Drout (who gave a guest lecture in the inaugural Mythgard class Tolkien and the Epic), as well as other scholars whose work he is less familiar with. “I’m Looking forward to getting Tolkien Criticism signed,” Brandon adds, “and to the Tolkien Beowulf scholarship” that will likely be presented at the conference.
In addition, several other Signumites will be participating in the conference:
Luke Baugher, who spends much of his time behind the Signum scenes helping with web development and leading the Signum Outreach Team, is looking forward to stepping in front of a crowd to present his paper on the on the Christ archetype and The Lord of the Rings.
Sørina Higgins is leading a panel on “The Inklings and King Arthur,” featuring a selection of research from authors whose papers will be included in a forthcoming collection of the same name. Specifically, the panelists will discuss Arthurian legend as it is treated by C. S. Lewis, J. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, George MacDonald, and G. K. Chesterton. Sørina also will be appearing as a panelist on the “Fantasy and Faith” panel.
Signum Professor Dr. Verlyn Flieger will be presenting her paper titled “Where Myth and Fantasy Meet: Or Do They?”
In addition. Drs. Olsen and Flieger will be appearing on a panel about how to teach Tolkien at the collegiate level.
This isn’t the first time Signum University has enjoyed significant representation at Mythcon. Last year, Dr. Flieger won the Mythopoeic Society Award for Inklings Scholarship for her book Green Suns and Faërie, beating out Dr. Olsen’s book and several others. At Mythcon 43, several Mythgardians presented papers, and Alyssa House-Thomas won the Alexei Kondratiev Award for her paper on “The Wondrous Orientalism of Lord Dunsany.”
The Eagle wishes the best to those attending, whether presenting, audiencing or simply getting into mischief.