Tolkien at Kalamazoo 2019

It’s going to be a busy week coming up in Kalamazoo Michigan for Tolkien scholars. The Tolkien at Kalamazoo group, led by Chris Vaccaro and Yvette Kisor, is planning what has now become an annual symposium one day ahead of the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University. The Symposium, to be held off campus on Wednesday, May 8th, features a day of papers, some music, and a free screening in the evening of the new Tolkien biopic. 

Following the Tolkien Symposium, the Medieval Congress kicks into high gear starting on Thursday, May 9th, with several Tolkien sessions organized by Tolkien at Kalamazoo and other departments or groups. 

I used to compile this schedule to keep track of all the papers I wanted to hear. I’m not going to Kalamazoo this year, but it’s still intriguing to see what topics people are working on. Take a look if you’re curious, or plan your schedule if you’re going!

Tolkien at Kalamazoo Symposium

Wednesday, May 8th
Kazoo Books [2413 Parkview Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008] 

11:30-12:00 Lunch [Subway selections, cookies, coffee and teas, water; $5-$10 each]

12:00 – 1:00 
Reconstructing the library of Michael H.R. Tolkien (1920-84) 
Brad Eden

 1:00 – 1:30 
Queer Hobbits: Language for the Strange, the Odd, and the Peculiar in Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings
Yvette Kisor

1:30 – 2:00
Who maketh Morwinyon, and Menelmacar, and Remmirath, and the inner parts of the south (where the stars are strange): Tolkien’s Astronomical Choices and the Books of Job and Amos
Kristine Larsen

Tolkien’s Early Para-Texts;  A Lit and Lang Exploration of The Heraldic Devices of Tol-Etherin
Andrew Higgins

2:30 – 3:00    BREAK    / Maidens of Middle-earth  IX (music)
Eileen Moore

3:00 – 3:30   
The Grisaille Havens, Verdaille Dragon, and Brunaille Lands: Brushwork in Tolkien’s Watercolors
John Holmes

3:30 –4:15 
Marquette’s Tolkien Manuscripts in a Digital Age.
Bill Fliss and John Rateliff

“Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream:” Faramir’s Vision of the Passing of Boromir
Vickie Holtz Wodzak 

6:00 pm (Seating at 5:30!) AMC, 10 Portage Street. FREE

[EDIT May 5]: If you would like to attend the movie screening, you have to give your name to the organizer Chris Vaccaro before 5:30 that evening. You can email Chris at

International Congress on Medieval Studies,
Thursday, May 9 –  Sunday, May 12

Thursday 10:00 a.m.
Session 17 FETZER 2016
Misappropriations of Tolkien’s medievalism (a roundtable)
Sponsor: Tolkien at Kalamazoo
Organizer: Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont
Presider: Richard West, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madiso

A roundtable discussion with Leigh Smith, East Stroudsburg Univ.; Robin Anne Reid, Texas A&M Univ.–Commerce; Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ.; Anna Czarnowus, Univ. of Silesia; Stephen Yandell, Xavier Univ.

Thursday 1:30 p.m.
Session 64 FETZER 2016 
Tolkien and Medieval Constructions of Race
Sponsor: Tolkien at Kalamazoo
Organizer: Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont
Presider: Deidre Dawson, Independent Scholar

Sun-Soot: Ragnarok and the Servants of Sauron
Larry J. Swain, Bemidji State Univ.
Medievalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Readings of Tolkien’s constructions of Race
Robin Anne Reid, Texas A&M Univ.–Commerce
Jihad / Crusade or Race War? The News from the Battle of Helm’s Deep
Michael A. Wodzak, Viterbo Univ.

Thursday 3:30 p.m.
Session 112 FETZER 2016
Tolkien and Temporality: Medieval Constructions of Time
Sponsor: Tolkien at Kalamazoo
Organizer: Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont
Presider: Brad Eden, Independent Scholar

Of Niggle and Ringwraiths: Tolkien on Time and Eternity as the Deepest Stratum of His Work
Robert Dobie, La Salle Univ.
Tolkien’s Anglo-Saxon Women: A Journey into the Medieval through the Moder­nity of Middle-Earth
Annie Brust, Kent State Univ./Kenston High School
The Eschatological Catholic: J. R. R. Tolkien and a Multi-Modal Temporality
Stephen Yandell, Xavier Univ.

Saturday 10:00 a.m.
Session 350 FETZER 2016
Medieval Song, Verse, and Versification in Tolkien’s Works
Organizer: Annie Brust, Kent State Univ.
Presider: Annie Brust

Noldorin and Sindarin Verse in the Lord of the Rings
Eileen Marie Moore, Cleveland State Univ.
Boethian Philosophy and Splintered Music: Decay through Time in Tolkien’s Legendarium
Brad Eden, Independent Scholar
Tolkien, the Beowulf-Poet, and the Phenomenology of Song and Identity
Paul Fortunato, Univ. of Houston-Downtown

Saturday 12:00 noon
Tolkien at Kalamazoo Business Meeting
Bernhard 211

Saturday 1:30 p.m.
The Medieval Roots of Tolkien’s The Fall of Gondolin
Organizer: William Fliss, Marquette Univ.
Presider: William Fliss

Four Brethren Heroes of the Gondolindrim: Egalmoth, Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and Legolas: A Mythic and Linguistic Exploration
Andrew Higgins, Independent Scholar
“Ic eom sæliden”: Medieval Romance Motifs in Tolkien’s Fall of Gondolin
John R. Holmes, Franciscan Univ. of Steubenville
From the Deeds of the Youth to the Arrival of a King
Anne Reaves, Marian Univ.

Saturday 3:30 p.m.
Tolkien’s Legendarium and Medieval Cosmology
Sponsor: History Dept., Texas A&M Univ.–Commerce
Organizer: Judy Ann Ford, Texas A&M Univ.–Commerce
Presider: Judy Ann Ford

“It Lies Behind the Stars”: Situating Tolkien’s Work within the Aesthetics of Medieval Cosmology“
Connie Tate, Texas A&M Univ.–Commerce
Cynewulf, Copernicus, and Conjunctions: The Problem of Cytherean Motions  in Tolkine’s Medieval Cosmology”
Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ.
Binding Faerie with the Chains of Time: Tolkien’s Failure to Finish The Silmarillion
John D. Rateliff, Independent Scholar

Sunday 8:30 a.m.
Session 509 FETZER 2016
The Legacy of Tolkien’s Medievalism in Contemporary Works
Sponsor: Tales after Tolkien Society
Organizer: Geoffrey B. Elliott, Independent Scholar
Presider: Geoffrey B. Elliott

Caines Cynne in Azeroth: Tolkien’s Medievalism in the Warcraft Series
Benjamin C. Parker, Northern Illinois Univ.
The Two Eyes of the Dragon: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Beowulf as an Introduction to English Literature in Academic Enviroments
Isabella Aparecida Leite Nogueira, Univ. Federal de Juiz de Fora; Mariana Mello Alves de Souza, Univ. Federal de Juiz de Fora
Diluting Divinity: Connecting Genesis to Diablo by Way of Numenor
Rachel Cooper, Univ. of Saskatchewan

Kalamazoo campus swan pond
Western Michigan University campus

3 responses to “Tolkien at Kalamazoo 2019”

    • Thanks for letting me know, Chris. I’ll add this information to my post as soon as I can.

      Looks like a great lineup of papers. Sorry I’ll be missing it.



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