Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Diversity and Counter-Diversity in Tolkien Scholarship

So, I'd been going back and forth over whether to attend this year's Tolkien Seminar hosted by the Tolkien Society. It's a time intensive event, as I found out when I tried to attend the full array of presentations last year (who knew sitting and watching a screen cd be so tiring as the hours drag on?). Plus, the focus of this year's event is outside the range of my work on Tolkien. 


But on the theory that it's good to get out of yr comfort zone once in a while, I finally went ahead and signed up this morning.

 Which turned out to be good timing, because this afternoon a friend (hi J.) sent me a link about people who are staging, or trying to stage, a counter-conference, to be held (virtually) concurrently with the long-planned Tolkien Society event. Some information (not much) can be found on the insurgent group's website: 


Much more, including discussion, appears on Mike Glyer's site, FILE 770, including that the group organizing the counter-event that has only been in existence for about a week,* making it sound more like a flash mob than a conference:


--John R.

*just to clarify: The Tolkien Society has been around since 1969 or so, and is a registered charity in the U.K. 'Society of Tolkien' is a new group who have formed specifically to protest the Tolkien Society's seminar.



Wurmbrand said...

No, it doesn't sound like a flash mob at all.

The link you provided, the only source of information on the alternative group known to me, makes no effort to cancel speakers at the Tolkien Society event. It seems free of snark and positive, so there appears to be nothing to justify "flash mob" -- something that is an odious phenomenon when it does occur, to be sure.

Dale Nelson

Tim Bolton (Ranatuor) said...

John, for context the "Society of Tolkien" event seems to have been created on 16/17 June by a Twitter account called Danger Casey, just over a week (9 June) after the TS posted the finalised talk schedule. https://twitter.com/CaseySoftware/status/1406353935942696962
I've talked to Danger Casey when I saw his event being reposted on TS social media. Out of curiosity and I asked him whether this is just an event or an actual group. I was informed currently the Society of Tolkien is not a group, just one person. I wish him well with his endeavour, though it does seem to be a reaction to the TS event. He's also fallen foul of a hoax already, having claimed to have a well known Tolkien scholar attending his event. I asked the scholar about it and he knew nothing of it. That issue has been resolved and I believe the other people giving talks are happily involved. Hope it goes well, sadly my interactions with certain elements attending will mean Casey will have a lot on his hands maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere.

Tim Bolton (Ranatuor) said...

In response to Dale's query about the intentions of the Society of Tolkien - I think they are quite clearly laid out in this interview with the organiser: https://www.dailywire.com/news/frodo-fights-back-new-tolkien-group-counter-programs-tolkien-societys-lgbtq-seminar

John D. Rateliff said...

Halfway through the T.S. seminar now; looking forward to as much as I can take in of tomorrow's sessions.

Of course this meant missing the 'Society of Tolkien' event, which also took place today.

On the bright side, the latter did post a full schedule of all their events: six quarter-hour presentations (eight if you include the opening/closing remarks, which is not bad for an event put together at such short notice). By contrst the T.S. hosted eight half-hour presentations each day for a total of eighteen hours altogether.

--John R.

Wurmbrand said...

Again, the "Society [sic] of Tolkien" appears to be offering an alternative to people who are not attracted to the Tolkien Society's programming but who are interested in discussing Tolkien. So far so good. The Society of Tolkien is not trying to -cancel- speakers or events with which they disagree, which is all to their credit -- and in striking contrast to behavior all too common elsewhere (notably on campuses). I wouldn't be surprised if the Society of Tolkien will disappear, having made a point -- a valid one, in my opinion. Happy Independence Day, and long live free speech.

Dale Nelson