New! Tolkien Symposium in Kalamazoo

Western Michigan University LibrarySomething new is coming to Kalamazoo, the site of the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, which usually includes a number of sessions related to Tolkien. Every year the Congress organizers have been whittling down the sessions sponsored by the Tolkien at Kalamazoo group (and others) so that what was once a conference with around 8 panels on Tolkien has been reduced to 3 or 4 in recent years. To increase the number of Tolkien sessions, Brad Eden, the Tolkien at Kalamazoo organizer, has had a cunning plan!

Just as the Tolkien Society holds a one-day seminar the day before the start of the International Medieval Congress in the UK, so too the Tolkien at Kalamazoo group will hold an afternoon symposium before the official opening of the medieval conference at Western Michigan University.

The theme is Tolkien Anniversaries. Brad’s description follows:

2017 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of J.R.R. Tolkien, the 100th anniversary of The Book of Lost Tales, the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, and the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Silmarillion.  In order to celebrate all of these anniversaries, a one-day symposium will be held on Wednesday, May 10, from 1-5 p.m. in the library at Western Michigan University, prior to the start of the 2017 International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS).

Lodging will be available in January for Wednesday evening through the ICMS website.  I hope that all of you attending ICMS will be able to come in one day earlier for this symposium.


If anyone has any questions, please contact Brad Eden at

The schedule of speakers:

1:00-1:30 p.m.
Kristine Larson, Ragnarok and the Rekindling of the Magic Sun

1:40-2:10 p.m.
Sandra Hartl, The Ainur and the Greek Pantheon: From The Book of Lost Tales to The Silmarillion

2:20-2:50 p.m.
Christopher Vaccaro, Christian Neoplatonic Mythopoeia: Alain de Lille’s De Planctu Naturae, Anticlaudianus, and Tolkien’s Legendarium

3:00-3:30 p.m.
Michael Wodzak, An Auto-Ethnographic Study of Bilbo’s Party

3:40-4:10 p.m.
Andrew Higgins, Mapping Tolkien’s The Book of Lost Tales: Exploring ‘I Vene Kemen’ (‘The Ship of the Earth’)

4:20-5:00 p.m.
Victoria Holtz-Wodzak, ‘On Golden Grove Unleaving’: Tolkien, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Inscape of Middle-earth

You can find abstracts of the papers here.

In addition, several sessions on Tolkien will take place as part of the official International Congress on Medieval Studies program. More details on these panels will follow later.




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