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Continuing in this summer series of Talks on Tolkien II, in which I’d like to highlight pre-recorded talks on new books or on different disciplinary approaches to studying Tolkien, I turn to Irina Metzler’s presentation at the 2016 Tolkien Seminar in Leeds. Dr. Metzler outlines some of the basic concepts in the growing academic field of disability studies and discusses some of Tolkien’s characters in that light.

The Society for Disability Studies defines this field of study: “Disability Studies recognizes that disability is a key aspect of human experience, and that the study of disability has important political, social, and economic implications for society as a whole, including both disabled and nondisabled people.”  Dr. Metzler, a historian of medieval culture and currently a research fellow at the University of Swansea in Wales, has written several books on disability in medieval culture, which you can read about on her blog.

Her talk demonstrates how characters from stories such as The Children of Húrin and The Lord of the Rings can be viewed through the lens of disability studies.