Kalamazoo past and future

I’ve been away for some time now on conference and research trips — more posts to come on those in the next few days. My last post over a month ago listed Tolkien sessions in Kalamazoo at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, which has  come and gone. Happily, I realize there’s no need this year for me to summarize the Tolkien sessions or to compile accounts of various other presentations, as I’ve done in previous years. Instead, you can read the excellent Tolkien at Kalamazoo Round-Up by Dr. Andrew Higgins on his blog, Dr. Wotan’s Musings.

In addition, #Kzoo2015 hit the blogosphere from all directions, and if you want a taste of the many different topics that were presented and discussed, take a look at Jonathan Hsy’s #Kzoo2015 Blogroll, a feast of information that includes “links to blog postings and transcripts of individual paper presentations … archives of tweets, public notes from sessions, Prezi and YouTube presentations … and an alliterative poem.”

The organizers of ICMS waste no time in deciding on which sessions will be allowed for the following year. You can already take a look at the Sneak Preview of sessions for 2016. Sessions specifically dealing with Tolkien are the following:

The Tolkien at Kalamazoo group, organized by Brad Eden, has been allowed to sponsor three sessions.

  • Tolkien and Beowulf
  • Tolkien and Invented Languages
  • A roundtable in honor of Verlyn Flieger

The History Department at Texas A&M University – Commerce is sponsoring one session, organized by Judy Ann Ford:

  • Fathers, Sons, and Fosterage in the Works of J. R. R. Tolkien

The Department of Religious Studies & Philosophy at The Hill School is sponsoring one session, organized by John Wm. Houghton:

  • Asterisk Tolkien: Filling Medieval Lacunae

Even with these three sponsors, the number of Tolkien sessions has decreased in the last two years — not from lack of interest (the Tolkien at Kalamazoo sessions are always extremely well attended) but as a result of a deliberate decision by the ICMS organizers, who have limited most sponsoring groups (although not all, which is puzzling in itself) to 3 or 4 sessions. For many years, the Tolkien at Kalamazoo group sponsored up to eight sessions per year, but that kind of thriving scholarly growth is being pruned back by the Congress organizers. Too bad, but of course, it’s their Congress, and they must have their reasons, though I think some sponsors would like to see more transparency in the decision-making.

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