Carolyn Dinshaw's Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre-
and Postmodern (Duke University Press, 1999), is dedicated at least in
part to the productive scholarly (as opposed to pedagogical?) use of
such juxtapositions. It predates the pop-Tolkien revival, though.
On Tuesday, February 17, 2004, at 05:21 PM, Marianne F Micros wrote:
I can add to this something that might scare you all (or at least
amuse you). When my students
were having difficulty with "The Faerie Queene," I told them that it was
something like the soap opera "Passions." Similar themes and types of
characters abound -- a false and evil version of a female who is being
kept captive; a witch who has a magic mirror or pot of soup or something
that she can see into; -- I found more and more of these similarities
(well, not exactly similar). The scariest part is that I started
"Passions" with my daughters and now watch it at the gym -- it makes the
time go by when one is pumping away or cycling or whatever. Well, this
comparison really helped the students. They caught on quickly!
they all know "Passions." Perhaps I can excuse myself for watching the
soap opera by saying that it is scholarly research.
On Tue, 17 Feb 2004, Beth Quitslund wrote:
So today I received a pamphlet inviting me to become a Charter Member
Subscriber of *Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review*, which is
dedicated to "the growing body of critical commentary and scholarship
Tolkien's marvellous writing and his academic work." It's the last
adjective that worries me. Do the editors and PR people mean "fabulous"
"fabular"? Studying Tolkien's writing for its own sake--for the kinds of
reasons that many of us study Spenser, historicist, theoretical, and
cultural studies apparatus notwithstanding--seems little different to me
from studying *Star Wars* for its verbal genius. On the other hand,
studying Tolkien's writing the way that critics of 20th-c. literature
to study Madonna might yield something.
The CFP that Peter posted leaves open what I do think are interesting
questions about the uses and attractions of faux medievalism (is
"medievalism" always already "faux"?) in our own culture. How our
perceive the "medieval," not to mention the epic, affects the teaching of
Spenser (a writer, we should remember, whose anachronisms some
contemporaries thought as funny as I think the dialogue of Tolkien's more
conspicuously noble characters). As a case in point: I once assigned a
close reading of FQ I.vii.31, Arthur's headgear, to an undergraduate
One student, at his wit's end to make sense of the "good" dragon there,
adduced the rules of Dungeons & Dragons, where, his paper informed me,
dragons are good and lesser-colored dragons are evil.
Given the connotations of "brazen" describing the Old Dragon of Book I,
there's the germ of an analogy there. But the underlying principle seemed
to be that both the game and the poem described elves, enchanters,
and people wandering around carrying weapons of various special
and that therefore the rules must be similar. And although Tolkien was,
light of his academic work, more informed about the real Middle Ages, I
think that in the next few years we will still see interesting effects on
our classes from the movies and the revived interest in the
that may change the students' perceptions or at least preconceptions of
FQ (are the inhabitants of Faerie Land immortal? Is Archimago a version
On the other hand, Peter Jackson's movies may replace *Monty Python and
Holy Grail* as the film most likely to be cited in my medieval survey.
Wouldn't that be a relief!
At 11:44 PM 2/15/2004 +0000, you wrote:
Peter et al. ---
I'm not about to respond to this CFP. Not that there's anything wrong
with its appearance on this List, but it puts me in mind of the line from
C. S. Lewis, that he never met a man who _used_ to like Spenser. Back in
the day, I was enthralled with the 'Rings' books, even to the point of
using 'The Fellowship' in some of my teaching. And I watched each of the
3 movies with pleasure -- feeling at the end, however, that the last one
went on much too long. Now I find that I've come around to something
the attitude that Edmund Wilson brought to the books when they were first
published: 'bored of the Rings' and 'Ooh, those awful orcs!'
Would it be possible to theorize distaste, disgust, impatience, either
with Tolkien's reactionary imagination or with the enormous industry on
display in those blockbuster movies? Is there anyone else out there who
_used_ to like Tolkien -- and still likes Spenser (and also Ursula Le
Guin, 'Riddley Walker,' and various other alternatives to realistic
Cheers, Jon Quitslund
My friend, Laurie Johnson, asked me to submit this call for papers to
Peter C. Herman
CALL FOR PAPERS: Theorizing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
I seek proposals for a special session at the 2004 MLA in Philadelphia
that would attempt to interpret Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in the light
of contemporary critical concerns (New Historicism, feminism,
deconstruction, cultural studies, etc.). Despite the fact that
Tolkien's trilogy constitutes one of the most popular books of the
latter twentieth-century, for many, the Lord of the Rings remains
marginal to academic concerns. No article on this text, for example, has
appeared in such journals as ELH, Review of English Studies, or PMLA.
However, the popularity of Peter Jackson's films has created a
resurgence of interest in Tolkien's work invites us to reread Tolkien's
works in accordance with contemporary concerns.
250-word abstracts and a 1 page vitae by March 1.
Send to Laurie Johnson
Georgia State University
Department of English
33 Gilmer Street SE, Unit 8
Atlanta, GA 30303-3088
Or as a MS word attachment to [log in to unmask]
NOTE: All program participants must be members of MLA by April 7, 2004.
The MLA membership requirement may be waived for participants who reside
outside the United States and Canada
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English
Athens, OH 45701
phone: (740) 593-2829
FAX: (740) 593-2818