Seminar’s Focus on Diversity in Tolkien Draws Conservatives’ Ire

The Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021 scheduled for July 3-4 – “a short academic conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship” — is free and online. Last year’s online event had over 400 viewers from 37 countries. (Register at this link.)

The topics of the papers scheduled for presentation in July have attracted lightning strikes from culture warriors John C. Wright, Bounding Into Comics’ John F. Trent, The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, and Not The Bee’s Joel Abbott. Meanwhile, The Tolkien Society has had to turn off comments on its own Facebook page.

The Society’s call for papers set this focus:

…Representation is now more important than ever and Tolkien’s efforts to represent (or ignore) particular characteristics requires further examination. Additionally, how a character’s identity shapes and influences its place within Tolkien’s secondary-world still requires greater attention. This seminar aims to explore the many possible applications of “diversity” within Tolkien’s works, his adaptations, and his readership….

And they have scheduled the following papers for presentation over the two days:

  • Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings
  • The Problem of Pain: Portraying Physical Disability in the Fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien
  • “The Burnt Hand Teaches Most About Fire”: Applying Traumatic Stress and Ecological Frameworks to Narratives of Displacement and Resettlement Across Cultures in Tolkien’s Middle-earth
  • The Invisible Other: Tolkien’s Dwarf-Women and the ‘Feminine Lack’
  • Projecting Indian Myths, Culture and History onto Tolkien’s Worlds
  • The Lossoth: Indigeneity, Identity, and Antiracism
  • The Problematic Perimeters of Elrond Half-elven and Ronald English-Catholic
  • Hearkening to the Other: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
  • Pardoning Saruman?: The Queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • Desire of the Ring: An Indian Academic’s Adventures in her Quest for the Perilous Realm
  • Queer Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!
  • Hidden Visions: Iconographies of Alterity in Soviet Bloc Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings
  • Questions of Caste in The Lord of the Rings and its Multiple Chinese Translations
  • Stars Less Strange: An Analysis of Fanfiction and Representation within the Tolkien Fan Community
  • “Something Mighty Queer”: Destabilizing Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien
  • Translation as a means of representation and diversity in Tolkien’s scholarship and fandom

The topics quickly attracted the attention of the conservative blogosphere.

Bounding Into Comics did a straight news story, “The Tolkien Society’s Summer Seminar 2021 Will Focus On ‘Tolkien And Diversity’” [Archive link], which nevertheless was enough to whip their commenters into a froth.

Then the pundits on other sites went to work.

Rod Dreher said in his short report for The American Conservative: “The Woke J.R.R. Tolkien” [Archive link] —

The reader who sent this in cites it as an example of O’Sullivan’s First Law: “All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.” The Tolkien Society has announced its summer seminar — and hoo boy, is it ever woke!…

At Not the Bee (a Babylon Bee affiliate) Joel Abbott scoffed: “The Tolkien Society goes full woke, bows to the will of Sauron in unbelievable new summer seminar”  [Archive link.]

Here’s the first of the virtual sessions, just to give you a taste of how the Tolkien Society has abandoned reason for madness:

Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings

Someone has been looking into the Palantír seeing stones for far too long.

How is that an actual session being sponsored by the Tolkien Society??

We’re gonna put The Babylon Bee out of business at this rate.

Oh, but that’s just a taste of the insanity. If there were only a few sessions that were woke, you’d think they are simply trying to be relevant.

…Where does the Tolkien Society even go from here? They’ve already hijacked a devout Catholic’s epic saga of heroism and hope against all odds.

…Do they not hear themselves? These people probably fancy themselves free spirits like the elves, without realizing they’ve been taken by a Dark Power and mutilated, turned into a ruined and terrible form of life….

John C. Wright, in “Tolkien and Diversity” [Archive link], declared his own spiritual tone with typical heavy-handed irony:  

Please do not contact these people, harass these people, challenge any of them to a duel, or ignite a thermonuclear device in their vicinity. Wrath is a deadly sin, no matter how abundantly deserved or long overdue.

Nor he did spare the dictionary in the climactic lines of his jeremiad:

…Until and unless Professor Tolkien is canonized, despite the universal and ferocious sentiment of all hale and sound Men of the West, technically it is not blasphemy to utter injuries and libels against him, not even by grotesque and orkish freaks in service to the Dark Lord.

And the princes and stewards of the decayed remnant of lands not yet conquered by the Shadow have not the valor and wisdom of day of old, and will not lift up the sword against the malefactors. Numenor is fallen, the heroes of old are lost beneath the waves, and we will not see their like again. 

We scattered few who remain no longer have freedom of speech our fathers knew, but the trolls and unclean spirits in service to Dol Guldur enjoy the privilege, and were-worm lolls on his ill-gotten heaps of dwarven gold. 

[Thanks to Robin Reid for the story.]

49 thoughts on “Seminar’s Focus on Diversity in Tolkien Draws Conservatives’ Ire

  1. Wright doing his “airing violent fantasies by pretending to be above them” thing again, I see. I’m pretty sure it still counts as a sin when you only commit it in your heart.

  2. @ Lis Carey

    Typically the right accuses its enemies of having its own flaws. Thus, snowflakes.

  3. The conference and papers did nothing to attract right-wing attention/ire. The usual outrage merchants seized on them for use in manufacturing today’s dose of adrenaline.

  4. Checking with Mike: Is the irony you refer to the perhaps unintended reference to cockroaches? “We scattered few who remain…” or something else, like calling for violence while abjuring violence?

  5. You know, if they want a Tolkien seminar done from a conservative slant, they could put one on themselves.

    But no, they’re too lazy to do that, they just want to whine about what other people are doing.

  6. This is the same Tolkien who trolled the Nazi purity-hunters so eloquently, right?

    ‘I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.’

  7. O’Sullivan’s First Law sure seems like an incredible self-own to me. Albeit a dangerous one as right-wing politicians continue to ban views they dislike.

  8. @Shao Ping

    O’Sullivan’s First Law sure seems like an incredible self-own to me.

    In what way? Can you name counter-examples? Aside from the Tolkein Society, there’s the news rooms and editorial desks of most newspapers in America; the Humanities departments of most universities in America (and elsewhere); the voting membership of the WSFS; the leadership of a number of mainstream churches (Episcopal, Methodist, various synods of Lutheran, etc.); the Boy Scouts of America; the NFL, NBA and MLB; the Pew Charitable Trust; the League of Women Voters; Hollywood in general, and the voting membership of the Oscars specifically; etc. There’s nothing about the ostensible goals of these that says they should be left-wing, yet all have moved leftward in the last generation.

    Albeit a dangerous one as right-wing politicians continue to ban views they dislike.


  9. bill: There’s nothing about the ostensible goals of these that says they should be left-wing, yet all have moved leftward in the last generation.

    You know why that is? Because more and more people over the years have started to recognize that unless we stand together, we shall all surely fall together; that when the poorest and least educated are given decent education and wages and healthcare, it raises the quality of life for everyone; and that what is good and right is to work toward a more just, fair world for everyone.

    The conservative motto is “Me, Myself, and I, Plus My Family and Some of My Friends, and Screw Everybody Else”. That the United States is moving away from that is a sign of progress, and a good thing.

  10. @ bill

    >Albeit a dangerous one as right-wing politicians continue to ban views they dislike


    Critical race theory, which originally was the academic study of systemic racism but has been transformed into a conservative term for “any anti-racism education that we don’t like.”

  11. Wow! That’s an awful lot for a little bit.

    I find myself intrigued by the “transgender realities” of Tolkien. The whole thing sounds interesting to me, and I’m not even a Tolkien fan.

    I do find it interesting that the extreme negative reaction implies that the people holding this and giving these presentations are not trufans, because teh woke.

  12. In what way?

    In exactly the way you describe. It is an admission that conservative ideas are generally unappealing and are losing to “leftish” ideas.

  13. JCW’s rant about the “libels and injuries” Tolkien is supposedly being subjected to is just him echoing the old Sad Puppy complaints when people engaged in analysis and examination of their work. They want their favorite literature to be taken seriously, but become outraged when people do just that and subject it to the kinds of analysis that serious literature gets.

    JCW fancies himself an intellectual, but the reality is that he is a puffed up clown whose education taught him nothing of value.

  14. I’d imagine it’s tough to be an intellectual if you reject any discourse more recent than that of the 1940s.

    But Wright’s reply is certainly – ahem – ent-ertaining. Let’s hope it doesn’t form part of an orc-estrated right wing response.

  15. I’d imagine it’s tough to be an intellectual if you reject any discourse more recent than that of the 1940s.

    A lot of JCW’s pretentions in that direction, as well as his constant tripping over his own feet, can likely be traced to his rather unusual educational background. JCW attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. St. John’s eschews the normal curriculum used by most U.S. colleges and universities and instead has a catalog of “great works” that all students read and study from. As one might expect, this catalog tends to skew quite old (and not entirely coincidentally, quite white and quite male).

    Now, I’m not going to cast aspersions on St. John’s, and there is ample evidence that a student could attend and emerge with a decent education, but with JCW, the only thing this experience seems to have imprinted upon him are the ideas that something needs to be old to be worthwhile and using archaic language is the mark of an intellectual.

  16. Cliff, be careful, that kind of behavior can develop into a hobbit. And I’m not just concern trolling you. If you engage in some elf-reflection you’ll hear my words ring true.

  17. My first reaction to reading this was “I don’t think this rises to the level of blasphemy, with or without the canonization of Tolkien.” And because I am that kind of person I ended up at the USCCB’s online version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which of course gives a definition of it.

    2148 Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God – inwardly or outwardly – words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name. St. James condemns those “who blaspheme that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called.” The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ’s Church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God’s name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The misuse of God’s name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion.

    First, I think it is safe to say that the Tolkien Society is probably not organizing a conference to ridicule or invite hatred of Tolkien. Second, nothing about the sessions as described lead me to believe that they are going to uttering words of hatred, reproach, defiance, or slander against God. (They may conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church, but that in and of itself is not blasphemy. Because it it was the Catechism would have said so.). Thus I argue that John C. Wright is incorrect in his assessment.

  18. Devoting that much of the Tolkien Society programming to identity issues that are otherwise absent in the source material of a set of works that came from someone with an early 20th-century cultural framework is, IMO, wandering pretty far afield from the source material that should be the focus of the event. A light sprinkling of those panels is certainly warranted. Orienting almost 100% of the programming in that direction is a different critter altogether.

    Wisdom includes not getting angry unnecessarily. The Law ignores trifles and the wise man does, too. – Job: A Comedy of Justice

  19. @ Brown Robin – these puns are great, but we shouldn’t keep them dragon on. We don’t want to dwarf the larger issues here.

    @ msb – you’re kind, and I thought the same, but I googled and found that ‘orkish’ is a spelling from Tolkien’s earlier writings. So I’m not surprised that Wright would favour it.

    @ Dann665 – I’m personally intrigued to see how the writers do in fact show how these issues are present in the source material. The Tolkien Society is a serious academic platform, and I’m sure they’re not publishing idle speculation.

    @ Aaron – I lost Saturday afternoon (thanks Camesrtros!) to reading the old June 14th 2015 File770 thread where Wright made a showing, proud of using words and adhering to their archaic meanings that modern readers would not understand. And, I’m sure, entirely coincidentally, their modern meanings would cause hurt. His education taught him how to bolster his mean-spiritedness.

  20. The point is that the issues are NOT absent. You may not enjoy contemplating those issues, in which case you are free to ignore them. Putting a whole bunch of such scholarship in one place is doing you a favor by making it easier to ignore them all at once.

  21. Certainly woke ideology is stupid and awful, but for the most part, this list of papers seems like a reasonable set of things to discuss. Will some of the papers be stupid and awful? Sure, but that’s true of any academic conference, woke or not. This sort of examination of Tolkien isn’t even new. We’ve had rewrites from the point of view of the Orcs, for example. The entire notion of evil races doesn’t sit well with modern sensibilities, and it’s being expunged from games like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering.

    Instead of considered evaluation and response, knees are jerking. Too bad.

  22. Look, the main thing is that we have our betters such as John C Wright Esquire who are looking after our freedoms. It’s a thankless task and one that takes a great toll on his time. To protect our values such as freedom of speech and diversity of ideas, we all must understand there are some topics about which we must not talk and the person who is best equipped to identify those topics is John C Wright Esquire who has a far better understanding of these books and indeed the nature of Western Civilisation than you or I.

  23. Dann665 on June 14, 2021 at 11:43 am said:

    Devoting that much of the Tolkien Society programming to identity issues that are otherwise absent in the source material of a set of works that came from someone with an early 20th-century cultural framework is, IMO, wandering pretty far afield from the source material that should be the focus of the event.

    Tolkien intentionally created a world with at least 10 distinct types of intelligent beings (hobbits, humans, elves, dwarfs, orcs, dragons, giants, trolls, gods, ents) each with not just distinct languages and cultures but also distinct ethnicities/sub-cultures to varying degrees. The languages he created also drew on multiple human languages including Germanic languages, Gaelic/celtic, Finnish as well as Semitic languages. Now, these are just the conscious, intentional elements of ethnic diversity that Tolkien built into his world from his early to a mid-20th-century cultural framework (he was an educated guy and active academic and engaged in the world he was living in – not somebody permanently stuck in 1914)

    Language and the diversity of human language is a fundamental part of Tolkien’s fantastical works. Not always in a good way and not always in ways that make sense but undoubtedly there.

    Now let’s take a step further. Those works are still read, enjoyed and are culturally influential decades after his death and even more decades after the early 20th-century. The place of those works within modern society is itself a topic worthy of academic discussion and a substantial topic at that.

  24. Of course if we’re looking for queer readings of Tolkien the Ursula LeGuin got there first with The Left Hand of Darkness. Her Gethenians – short, plump, asexual, domestic, unwarlike, constantly snacking, possessed of surprising reserves of strength and endurance – were clearly inspired by hobbits.

  25. Nothing in that list of paper titles strikes me as an imposition on Tolkien’s work. To assert otherwise is to demonstrate one’s inability to read Tolkien.

  26. Dann seems to be claiming that since Tolkien was born in the late 19th century and wrote in the early 20th century (well, he was writing LOTR during WW II so let’s say up to middle of 20th century), those icky identity politics just didn’t exist. No, you didn’t say identity politics but that’s the racist, sexist, homo/transphobic dog whistle you’re evoking by saying:

    Devoting that much of the Tolkien Society programming to identity issues that are otherwise absent in the source material of a set of works that came from someone with an early 20th-century cultural framework

    And you are as usual dead wrong. Oxford started admitting women students for the first time in 1916 (according to reference sources online–I don’t know if the admissions was limited to white women, or if there were limitations on them that the men did not have). But there was a centenary celebration of 100 years since women were granted the first degrees in 1920.

    Feminism in Britain in the early 20th century: it was a THING!

    The early 20th century, the Edwardian era, saw a loosening of Victorian rigidity and complacency: women had more employment opportunities and were more active. Many served worldwide in the British Empire or in Protestant missionary societies.

    The charismatic and dictatorial Pankhursts formed the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903. As Emmeline Pankhurst put it, they viewed votes for women no longer as “a right, but as a desperate necessity”.[31] Women had the vote in Australia, New Zealand and some of the American states. While WSPU was the most visible suffrage group, it was only one of many, such as the Women’s Freedom League and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) led by Millicent Garrett Fawcett.

    LGBTQ* rights: ALSO A THING!

    The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 however, went a step further once again, making any male homosexual act illegal – whether or not a witness was present – meaning that even acts committed in private could be prosecuted. Often a letter expressing terms of affection between two men was all that was required to bring a prosecution. The legislation was so ambiguously worded that it became known as the ‘Blackmailer’s Charter’, and in 1895, Oscar Wilde fell victim.

    The Criminal Law Amendment Act was used to send Oscar Wilde to prison in 1895.

    Female homosexuality was never explicitly targeted by any legislation. Although discussed for the first time in Parliament in 1921 with a view to introducing discriminatory legislation (to become the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 1921), this ultimately failed when both the House of Commons and House of Lords rejected it due to the fear a law would draw attention and encourage women to explore homosexuality. It was also assumed that lesbianism occurred in an extremely small pocket of the female population.

    In the post-war period, transgender identities started to become visible. In 1946 Michael Dillon published Self: A Study in Endocrinology. The book, which in contemporary terms could be described as an autobiography of the first transgender man to undergo phalloplasty surgery, recounted Dillon’s journey from Laura to Michael, and the surgeries undertaken by pioneering surgeon Sir Harold Gillies. Dillon wrote: ‘Where the mind cannot be made to fit the body, the body should be made to fit, approximately at any rate, to the mind.’

    Civil rights organizing; YES A THING!

    In the early twentieth century, the government in Britain did nothing to defuse racial discrimination; nor did it have to pass many laws to make sure it occurred. This was presumably because of a general consensus among whites about African and Asian people that allowed racial discrimination in Britain to exist.

    The League of Coloured Peoples founded in London in 1931, and other organisations opposed to racial discrimination, such as those established in Cardiff, Liverpool and South Shields did approach trade unions, local government and central government, and were listened to, usually quite politely. But nothing was done.

    White women, BIPOC, and people in gender, romantic, and sexual communities have always existed — and the “issues” about the kyriarchy’s systemic oppression were around well before Tolkien was born. Pretending that he lived in a world that was free of all that is one of the playbooks of the white supremacists who are busy appropriating his work along with other medieval symbols and images.

  27. Oh, and just as a general informational statement: some of the papers including my piece on queer atheists, agnostics, and animists, are not about Tolkien’s fiction in the New Critical sense (i.e. explicating/analyzing what is “in” the text, without acknowledging the body or culture of the author or the critic). I went and asked atheist, agnostic, and animist readers about Tolkien; 34 of the 112 surveys completed were by GRSM community members. So mine a type of reception or reader response theory.

    Other presentations draw on other types of reception and reader response approaches, focusing on, well, what readers (defined variously) make of Tolkien–this probably includes the Chinese translation (translation studies is its own sub-field of linguistics, but it’s also can be approached as how a text from one language/culture is ‘interpreted’ for another language/culture). Ditto the Soviet illustrations presentation. “Gondor in Transition” deals with a transformative work, fanfiction, which is another way of doing reception theory. So too the Indian scholars–whose presentations were singled out for hate in some of the now deleted comments.

    I mean, “Tolkien” (meaning his legendarium including translations and adaptations) is a global phenomenon: the people trying to corral it as a “myth for Englishmen” have no change of achieving their goal. Nor can they control what readers all over the world make of Tolkien. He wanted to write a story that appealed to to readers and “delight them.” Why are so many of those readers so upset at the scope and diversity of readers who do, in fact, enjoy and love Tolkien’s work?

  28. A serious question: would it be better or worse to just ignore JCW from now on? One could argue that a) he brings nothing of intellectual interest or profundity to any question he addresses; b) he seemingly delights in trolling any group or person he feels doesn’t respect the ‘natural law’ defended by the Catholic church 80 years ago; c) he’s not a very good writer, at least in these screeds he periodically publishes, and IMHO, in 90% of his fiction; and d) by paying attention to him, we’re actually encouraging him in this nasty behavior.

    On the other hand, well, ummm….I guess it wouldn’t be polite to ignore him. And our humble host’s mission is to write up events in fandom. So maybe he feels compelled to mention Wright.That’s all I got.

  29. Because the latter group of readers aren’t loving Tolkien’s work in the “right” way, Robin!!!!

  30. @Dan665: “A light sprinkling”? Er, did you miss the focus (theme) for this year? I sure hope a scholarly seminar like this would follow their stated focus/theme in calling for and selecting papers. 😛

    When I used to go to technical conferences, even they would frequently have a theme (however vague).

  31. the only thing this experience seems to have imprinted upon him are the ideas that something needs to be old to be worthwhile and using archaic language is the mark of an intellectual.

    I think this is a very peculiar lesson to take away from St. John’s. Virgil’s Aeneid was a hit for him in his lifetime, and though he probably wrote it in high-class Latin he would have used the high-class Latin of his time. (Writing an epic poem that the Emperor couldn’t read wouldn’t have been a good idea, right?). Dante deliberately wrote the Divine Comedy in the Tuscan vernacular rather than Latin, and from the first it was hailed as a major work of literature. Shakespeare wrote in the English of his day because he was trying to sell as many theater seats as possible. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

  32. msb: At least Cliff can spell “orc” correctly!
    In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, there is only war and misspelled orcs.

    @robinareid: Congratulations on getting a paper accepted to the conference!

  33. Papers like these always remind me of Florence King’s story about seeing an essay she’d written about music that was used in an anthology.
    After the essays were questions to ‘continue the discussion’ and one of her was “Why do you suppose the author made the choice to list her preferences at the end of the essay and not reveal them at the start?”.
    She said that the answer was that she didn’t realize that she had forgot to talk about her own preferences and didn’t feel like re-typing the whole thing.

  34. In 1945 after V-E Day JRRT wrote to his son Christopher and said

    as I know nothing about British or American Imperialism in the Far East that does not fill me with regret and disgust, I am afraid I am not supported by even a glimmer of patriotism in the remaining war

    That is a seriously radical level of anti-imperialism. I’m not saying he was wrong! But that’s really forking radical, one might even say “woke”.

    Now, Tolkien wasn’t a leftist, because a leftist then meant “at least socialist, probably Communist and pro-Soviet” which he emphatically was not. But not being leftist then doesn’t mean he was conservative, because conservative in England then meant pro-Empire, which he was also emphatically not.

  35. This looks like a really interesting set of papers/presentations. Too bad I won’t be awake for most of them. I hope they can be accessed later by those of us in far-away time zones.

    I don’t think the Russians and Chinese are very woke. And one of the items specifically deals with the Professor’s Catholicism, even!

    Pretty much everything nowadays draws conservatives’ ire. I think we can safely ignore the ignorant whining of reactionary snowflakes.

  36. I think this is a very peculiar lesson to take away from St. John’s.

    JCW seems to specialize in taking peculiar lessons from things.

  37. By the example of the graduates I’ve known, St. John’s isn’t a college, it’s a machine for turning smart young people into absolute dullards.

  38. Wright says that he and his ilk

    no longer have [the] freedom of speech our fathers knew.

    where as far as I can tell the core complaint is that people are using their freedom of speech to say things he dislikes at an academic conference about literature.

    Horrors! Somewhere out on the web there’s writing he disagrees with! By people who might not be convinced by his loud “how dare you say that about someone who we both respect?”

  39. Hi JJ! And gang!

    It’s been a bit rough. We’ve had 3 surgeries in the household so far this year and have only just now reached the point where everyone’s recovered. My 94-y.o. father died in March. Also, gestures at world

    But one thing we did to cope was have a family (me, Mr Dr, & sprog that lives with us) read-aloud of LOTR. Before that we read Master and Commander, next up is either Heaney’s Beowulf or Wilson’s The Odyssey.

    Other read-alouds of the past year include The Last Unicorn–an excellent chioce, we found. hmm, I wonder if I can find our copy of The Face in the Frost? That might also work well … There’s also the possibility of more O’Brian–the comic bits are especially good read aloud, we found.

  40. Doctor Science! Hi! And hello also to Sprog of Doctor, who we briefly met at the Worldcon party. Glad to hear you are all on the mend and comforted by books.

    @Vicki: His freedom of speech has been so curtailed that he’s only able to blog what he thinks, and even have that blog linked in other ones. Positively draconian. Right up there with being beheaded in an embassy like Khashoggi or glowing in the dark like Litvinenko.

    Truly, students having slightly differing opinions is exactly the same… if you’re a SWM with fragile fee-fees.

  41. I shall wander in shamefully late to suggest that damn near every interpretation of the source material has already been done three times over, so if I was the Tolkien Society and saw papers like this that actually looked different, I’d be over the moon. The source material has been the focus of the event for how many years now? Those bones are well-gnawed.

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