In this summer series of Talks on Tolkien I’d like to highlight new/forthcoming books or different disciplinary approaches to the study of Tolkien — Interdisciplinary Tolkien, as I like to think of it.
Who better to exemplify the interdisciplinary study of Tolkien than Kristine Larsen, known to many as “The Tolkien Astronomer.” Dr. Larsen is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Central Connecticut State University and someone who is a prolific Tolkien scholar. In addition, she’s written about Stephen Hawking, Neil Gaiman, Dr. Who — and astronomy, of course.She’s also the person who runs the very popular astrolabe workshops every year at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo.
The following video is from the second New York Tolkien Conference, which took place a couple of weeks ago. Kristine Larsen was one of the keynote speakers, and as is evident from the title of this talk, she likes to make them long*: “Lewis, Tolkien, and Popular Level Science: What the Well-Educated Inklings Actually Knew about the Universe (As Reflected in the Details of Narnia, Middle-earth, and Other Secondary Worlds).” The talk concludes with a plea for “STEAM” rather than just “STEM” education.**
The video has a few buffering glitches, but with patience you can hear or understand almost the whole talk. Anyone who would like to know more about astronomy and Middle-earth can check out Dr. Larsen’s website, The Astronomy of Middle-earth.
* Dr. Larsen’s longest record-breaking title so far appeared in the Vermont Tolkien Conference program here.
**STEM = science, technology, engineering, math
STEAM= science, technology, engineering, art, math