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Call for Papers: Tolkien Society Summer Seminar – “Tolkien and Diversity”

Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Feb 25, 2:33am

Post #1 of 9 (1337 views)
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Call for Papers: Tolkien Society Summer Seminar – “Tolkien and Diversity” Can't Post

Posted by Will Sherwood at The Tolkien Society website:


Quote
We are now calling for papers for the Tolkien Society Summer Seminar, which will be held online on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th July 2021. The theme is Tolkien and Diversity.

Call for Papers
The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short academic conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship. The online setting of the 2020 seminar saw an increased interest with over 400 attendees from 37 countries. We are delighted to be running another online seminar that will be free for all.

Summer Seminar: Tolkien and Diversity Call for Papers
While interest in the topic of diversity has steadily grown within Tolkien research, it is now receiving more critical attention than ever before. Spurred by recent interpretations of Tolkien’s creations and the cast list of the upcoming Amazon show The Lord of the Rings, it is crucial we discuss the theme of diversity in relation to Tolkien. How do adaptations of Tolkien’s works (from film and art to music) open a discourse on diversity within Tolkien’s works and his place within modern society? Beyond his secondary-world, diversity further encompasses Tolkien’s readership and how his texts exist within the primary world. Who is reading Tolkien? How is he understood around the globe? How may these new readings enrich current perspectives on Tolkien?

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.

Papers may consider, but are not limited to:

  • Representation in Tolkien’s works (race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, religion, age etc.)

  • Tolkien’s approach to colonialism and post-colonialism

  • Adaptations of Tolkien’s works

  • Diversity and representation in Tolkien academia and readership

  • Identity within Tolkien’s works

  • Alternity in Tolkien’s works

  • Please ensure that abstracts are a maximum of 300 words (papers will be 20 – 25 minutes long, with 5 minutes for questions) and biographies are a maximum of 100 words. Submissions can be made here. The deadline for the call for papers is end of day, Friday 23rd April.


    Source

    #FidelityToTolkien
    #DiversityWithFidelity

    (This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Feb 25, 2:34am)


    squire
    Asgardian


    Feb 25, 4:27am

    Post #2 of 9 (1293 views)
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    Alterity, not Alternity, in Tolkien's Works [In reply to] Can't Post

    The last category of suggested themes has that typo. The original post by the Tolkien Society is correct: Alterity, the concept of the Other, that which is different from the norm. Alternity is a nearly obsolete term most often associated with 'alternate universes', the theme of what if there are other worlds different from ours - hardly a useful term when asking for papers about a fantasy author's work.

    This seminar has attracted the kind of controversy that Tolkien Studies has increasingly seen in the past few years: the idea of exploring the degree to which Tolkien's works appeal to, or apply to, or diminish, audiences who are diverse in relation to his expected audience in his own time, arouses reactions from those who want to deny that this is a question of interest in today's world. The Tolkien Society's post of its seminar on Facebook has been closed to further comments because of the controversial or unpleasant posts on the subject.

    It seems hard to believe that Tolkien fans and scholars can't discuss or study questions of how diverse audiences respond today to The Lord of the Rings and the Prof's other works. But there you are: politics. Who'd have thought?



    squire online:
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    Otaku-sempai
    Avenger


    Feb 25, 3:28pm

    Post #3 of 9 (1257 views)
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    Re: Alterity, not Alternity, in Tolkien's Works [In reply to] Can't Post

    Thanks for the correction! The original word got deleted and I re-entered it incorrectly.

    #FidelityToTolkien
    #DiversityWithFidelity


    N.E. Brigand
    Asgardian


    Mar 6, 2:11am

    Post #4 of 9 (1071 views)
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    A golden opportunity for the Tolkien Estate to tote up another one on the register? [In reply to] Can't Post

    A few days ago, the Estate of Dr. Seuss cleverly announced that it would cease publication of six of the famed children's author's lesser-known books because those works include insensitive images that, the Estate says, "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong." The books in question are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), McElligot’s Pool (1947), If I Ran the Zoo (1950), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), On Beyond Zebra! (1955), and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976).

    I read two or three of those books as a child and didn't remember anything wrong with them, and it's hard to find a news story about the Seuss Estate's decision that actually shows the images of concern, but once seen again with modern eyes, I think most people would agree that at least some of these particular pictures are pretty bad and inappropriate for presentation to children (at least without some contextual explanation), and it makes sense for the Estate to not wish to be associated with them anymore.

    It occurs to me that the Seuss Estate simply could have quietly changed the few problematic images in those books to make them acceptable, rather as happened with Jolly Old Santa Claus, the 1958 holiday picture book written by Alice Mason and illustrated by George Hinke, which when reissued in the 1990s was altered to remove images of the pipes smoked by Santa Claus and his brownies. Hardly anyone would notice, and these Dr. Seuss books could still be available for purchase. But as a result of announcing the change publicly, the Estate generated a huge controversy, to which outraged fans of Dr. Seuss (most of whom probably haven't even read one of these six books) collectively responded by punishing the Estate for "canceling" those titles . . .

    . . . by purchasing so many Dr. Seuss books that over the past couple days they've held as many as 40 of the top 50 spots and 11 of the top 12 spots on Amazon's best-seller list.

    And those new best-sellers are not the books the Estate decided to stop publishing, but rather are Seuss's other books, including such well-known titles as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, Oh the Places You'll Go, The Lorax, and The Sneeches. As Beard and Kenney would say: ching!

    Remembering the amazing correspondence between Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) and J. R. R. Tolkien that squire brought to our attention many years ago, I'm wondering if there's an opportunity here for the Tolkien Estate to follow suit. Is there a minor work of the Professor's that his daughter Priscilla could repudiate? Something that very few people have read? Something that could push The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion back up the best-seller charts? Maybe this one, by golly? Or how about Mr Bliss, perhaps the most Suessian of Tolkien's works? Can they be convinced to stop publishing The Children of Húrin just on the grounds that it's so dreary? Hey ho, hey ho, Morgoth's Ring has got to go?

    Well, perhaps she can see what comes out of this Tolkien Society seminar. Or offer a prize for the paper that makes the best suggestion of a work the Tolkien Estate could disown in order to drive up sales of his other titles. Oh my. Oh dear. Do you hear the silver tinkling of merriment in the air, Jacquot?


    Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

    But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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    squire
    Asgardian


    Mar 6, 2:42am

    Post #5 of 9 (1072 views)
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    Ka-ching! [In reply to] Can't Post

    I vote take Mr. Bliss off the market. Imagine the right-wing media's outrage when a book is pulled from publication that vanishingly few readers (outside of Tolkien's "base") have read.

    The crime? Of course: the girabbit mocks and discriminates against both rabbits and giraffes.



    squire online:
    RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
    Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
    Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
    Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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    dernwyn
    Guardian of the Galaxy / Moderator


    Mar 6, 3:49pm

    Post #6 of 9 (1036 views)
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    Ka-ching is right. [In reply to] Can't Post

    The librarian I assist and I looked through our library's copies of the "banned" books this past week, trying to figure out what was "wrong" with them, and came to that conclusion: there's nothing in there that a bit of quiet editing couldn't "fix".

    Now the truth is out. It's nothing more than a ploy to sell more books - probably brought on by the gradual pushing back, over the years, of allowing National Reading Month to be held in the clutches of a certain Cat.

    Notice the timing?

    I agree with squire. Let's petition the Estate to announce cessation of publication of Mr. Bliss, and while they're at it, the Father Christmas Letters as well, for racist depictions of goblins and of course, insinuating that polar bears are learning-disabled.

    Tongue


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "I desired dragons with a profound desire"


    noWizardme
    Asgardian


    Mar 10, 12:03pm

    Post #7 of 9 (867 views)
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    It is disheartening [In reply to] Can't Post


    In Reply To
    This seminar has attracted the kind of controversy that Tolkien Studies has increasingly seen in the past few years.... The Tolkien Society's post of its seminar on Facebook has been closed to further comments because of the controversial or unpleasant posts on the subject.

    It seems hard to believe that Tolkien fans and scholars can't discuss or study questions of how diverse audiences respond today to The Lord of the Rings and the Prof's other works. But there you are: politics. Who'd have thought?


    It's a shame that the Tolkien Society's effort to discuss this has already been disrupted. People who are willfully or recklessly disruptive and disrespectful have spoiled a lot of online communities (for me at least).

    That sort of behaviour casts a chill beyond discussions that collapse in flames and gouts of bile. These boards are an example. Back in the days when I organised read-throughs and other projects in the well-administered Reading Room board, one task was to try and persuade people to be this week's 'discussion leader'. One of the common reasons people would not agree to participate was anxiety about the reaction they might get. Herabouts, reactions were always really more likely to be positive --or at worst a bit pedantic, point-scoring or otherwise [eyeroll]. But only in a couple of cases do I remember any lingering feeling of real discomfort or annoyance. Still, I'm reporting the fact that the fear of hostility was a barrier to involvement nevertheless.

    The lack of participation (whether it's because of anxiety about reactions, or for other reasons) in turn creates a further problem - a "100% volunteer" community like this can't survive if too few people actually volunteer by posting something. And that's a downwards spiral - I've mostly stopped posting things because I'm hoping for an interesting (and polite) conversation rather than an opportunity simply to emit opinions. These days that rarely works out for me.

    Anyway, here we are well down the rabbit-hole and aside from mourning that with you, goodness knows what should or even could be done.

    Perhaps it is just human nature. Other fandom and special interest groups also seem to have a mad fringe who, having found this nice friendly clubhouse in which to share their special interest, seem mostly motivated by barricading the clubhouse to keep out those (allegedly) 'threatening' or 'undesirable' people over there (whatever the 'other' group is in this case). Dismantling the clubhouse to make a barricade just damages the clubhouse.

    And I should (and can and will) leave it at that.

    ~~~~~~
    "You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
    -from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


    (This post was edited by noWizardme on Mar 10, 12:04pm)


    squire
    Asgardian


    Mar 10, 7:02pm

    Post #8 of 9 (858 views)
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    I feel your pain [In reply to] Can't Post

    But I don't think the decline of the Reading Room, like the rest of these TORn message boards, is because of increasing hesitation to go public with ones thoughts and get flamed for the trouble.

    I think it has much more to do with the changing shape of the web, in particular the rise of more fluid social media that resemble chatrooms more than message boards, especially the threaded-style message boards that are TORn's peculiar pride. The difficulty of posting images and media on these pages is surely by itself enough to repel a large number of younger fans, given the amazing alternatives that are out there.

    I continue to enjoy batting Tolkien around with fellow fans, but I've found that the action on Facebook is many times more lively and populated than it is here - and one of the two Tolkien boards I participate in is TORn's own Facebook page for discussing the Prof. Both of those FB pages are very well moderated, just as this one is. Trolls or other unpleasant people are shut down, even at the cost of terminating a thread or two (which used to happen quite often on TORn's boards here, during the first movie craze at least), but people are not put off by that, as far as I can tell.

    Of course I still follow the Reading Room and a few of the other boards here, out of loyalty and love. But the place is basically moribund and it can't be the subject matter and it can't be the fans. It must be environment and the web structure, and I don't see how that can be helped.



    squire online:
    RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
    Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
    Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
    Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


    = Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


    noWizardme
    Asgardian


    Mar 11, 3:17pm

    Post #9 of 9 (792 views)
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    I'm sure you're right [In reply to] Can't Post

    It doesn't seem likely that fear of objectionable users is the only factor in these boards becoming quiet - especially when people here aren't allowed to be all that objectionable for long.

    So very likely you're right and a lot of people are now doing most of their Tolkien fan activity in the Cyber-panopticon of their choice, along with the trolls or orcs who you were saying have been bothering the Tolkien Society.

    ~~~~~~
    "You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
    -from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/

     
     

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