FRIDAY MAY 11th 2018
No Tolkien events scheduled this morning, so went to some medieval papers instead, in a panel with the forbidding name IN A WORD: PHILOLOGY, ETYMOLOGY, LEXICOGRAPHY, SEMANTICS, AND MORE IN GERMANIC, the first paper in which (EVIDENCE OF LANGUAGE CONTACT IN OLD NORSE NAMES by Paul Peterson) looked at the interesting phenomenon of lots of people with Celtic names being among the settlers of Iceland -- were these still thought of as 'foreign' several generations on? My notes on the second paper (THE ONOMASTICS OF HONOR IN BEOWULF by Pater Ramsey) are so sketchy that I can't say much about his piece other than that among the things he discussed was the name of Hrothgar's queen and that he called Hunferth by that name. The third paper, Ilya V. Sverdlov's DOCH NICHT DEN RING, OR WAGNERIAN INFLUENCES ON LotR BEYOND THE TETRALOGY: THE CASE OF PARSIFAL, took it as a given that Wagner's Ring cycle influenced JRRT (quote: "He can deny it all he wants") and wanted to suggest possible influence from another of Wagner's works. I thought his comparisons too generic to really make his case, but perhaps I was a little detached because I'd somehow gotten the impression, from too-hasty scanning of the program book, that what I'd come to hear was a presentation suggesting influence from Wulfram's PARZIVAL --which is something I've only ever seen suggested by the late Dr. Rhona Beare. Anyway, the last presentation in the set (PROVERBS AS WEAPONS OF SUBVERSION: HEATHEN SORCERERS IN TWO LATE ISLENDINGA-SOGUR by Richard L. Harris) can be simply summed up by two quotes: "no good will come of this" -- when 'this' is consulting a sorcerer -- and the memorable line "they do terrible things to those poor witches"
early afternoon sessions (Friday 1.30)
MEDIEVALISM AND ENVIRONMENTALISM IN TOLKIEN'S WORKS
XVI. SMAUG'S HOARD, DURIN'S BANE, AND AGRICOLA'S DE RE METALLICA: CAUTIONARY TALES AGAINST MINING IN TOLKIEN'S LEGENDARIUM AND THE CLASSICAL TRADITION by Kristine Larsen found some interesting parallels between Tolkien's views of mining (Isengard vs. Dwarves) and a mixed medieval/renaissance tradition (Agricola, Spenser, Milton). As usual, approaches Tolkien's legendarium from a somewhat different direction and finds some interesting things thereby.
XVII. TOLKIEN'S FRANCISCAN ENVIRONMENTALISM by Deidre Dawson was a typically well-researched and wide-ranging piece which began with Voltaire (unusual in Tolkien scholarship) and ended with Francis of Assisi, citing examples both of environmentalism and anti-environmentalism within the Church. Among her more interesting quotes was one from Charles Huttar stating that the concept of biocentrism (that the nature world is not human-based) was "utterly un-Xian". I also came away with a reading list from this one; e.g. THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES and "THE LANGUAGE OF TREES". Her piece made we hope somebody writes one paralleling Francis of Assisi's love of animals with Tolkien's love of trees.
XVIII. THE FRANCISCAN AND BENEDICTINE* ROOTS OF TOLKIEN'S ENVIRONMENTALISM by Vickie Holtz Wodzak wrapped up the session by linking Radagast the Brown with Francis of Assisi (wears brown, befriends animals, 'bird-tamer') while Gandalf she saw as more Benedictine; there was also some discussion of Bombadil's delight in the natural world and Sam's gardening
*the official title in the program book said DOMINICAN, but this was apparently in error.
later afternoon sessions (Friday 3.30)
TOLKIEN'S RE-ENVISIONING OF THE MEDIEVAL LAY: THE LAY OF BEREN AND LUTHIEN AND THE LAY OF AOTROU AND ITROUN
XIX. THE LAY OF AOTROU AND ITROUN, BRETON LAYS, AND GWERZIOU
by Matthieu Boyd argued that the Breton ballad ("Lord Nann and the Korrigan") that underlay Tolkien's recreated Breton Lay (A&I) is an authentic medieval survival, not a nineteenth century invention. As an added bonus, he sang us part of the ballad in the original Breton.
XX. MATIERE DE TERRE DU MILIEU: JEAN BODEL'S FORMULA AND TOLKIEN'S LEGENDARIUM by John R. Holmes took a look at the twelfth-century formulation of The Matter of France, The Matter of Rome, and The Matter of Britain, suggesting that Tolkien's legendarium is perhaps best thought of as The Matter of Middle-earth. The discussion that followed at one point circled around the question of whether Tolkien ever mentions Marie de France and her work: not until afterwards did the shoe drop that the place to look wd be in his GAWAIN edition.
still later Friday (5.15)
XXI. TALES AFTER TOLKIEN business meeting
—went to sit in on the Tales After Tolkien society's plans to regroup and refocus
to be continued