Research

Research introduction. Click for more infoResearch on Tolkien. Click for more info.Research on medievalism. Click for more info.Research on Old English.Click for more info.Research on teaching and learning. Click for more info.

research introductionIntroduction

Working in a small undergraduate university like mine requires that professors teach a broad range of courses outside their doctoral dissertation specialization. One of the advantages of this situation is that my teaching — for example, in children’s literature, writing, and women’s literature courses — has led me to research topics that I did not expect to pursue just after finishing my PhD. My graduate training as an Anglo-Saxonist is still the foundation of my ongoing research program, but I have extended my focus to the fields of medievalism (the re-creation and/or study of aspects of the Middle Ages in later periods), children’s literature, and Tolkien. Even these subcategories arbitrarily divide what are usually overlapping subjects in my research.

In the listing below, I have divided my research interests into four main areas – Tolkien, Medievalism, Old English Literature, and Pedagogy – even though each one of these fields overlaps with the others in significant ways. My work on Tolkien’s fiction, for example, could be classified under Medievalism, just as my work on, for example, Tolkien’s scholarly writings could very well be listed under Old English Literature. Similarly, the research listed under Medievalism relies on a knowledge of medieval texts and is integrally related to my research field of Old English literature. The final section, Pedagogy, draws on my teaching experiences in all of these fields. I have occasionally cross-listed items in these different categories, but I always add a note that I’ve done so — I’m not trying to pad my c.v.!  Although I have created these somewhat artificial boundaries between different aspects of my research for the convenience of those who might be looking for one particular focus of mine, I would like to note that all of my research is rooted in a love of the Old English language and its literature. That interest has branched out and effoliated in sometimes surprising directions.

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Research on TolkienTolkien

My research interests in Tolkien range from studying Tolkien’s medieval scholarship to discussing his fiction as a modern work and as an imaginative re-creation of the medieval. I am also interested in the contemporary reception of Tolkien’s work in film, on stage, and in fan fiction, especially in slash fan fiction written by online communities of women.

Tolkien researchPeer-reviewed publications on Tolkien

“Visualizing the Word: Tolkien as Artist and Writer.” Tolkien Studies 14 (2017): 115-131. Forthcoming.

“Seers and Singers: Tolkien’s Typology of Sub-creators.” A Wilderness of Dragons: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger. Ed. John D. Rateliff. Gabbro Head Press, forthcoming.

“Adaptation as Analysis: Creative Work in an English Classroom.” Fan Studies in the Classroom. Edited by Katherine Howell, U of Iowa P, forthcoming. (This essay is also listed in the Pedagogy section, below).

“Teaching Tolkien in the First-Year Literature Survey Course.” Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Other Works. Ed. Leslie Donovan. New York: MLA Publications, 2015. 191-99. Print. (This essay is also listed in the Pedagogy section, below).

“Frodo’s Body: Liminality and the Experience of War” in The Body in Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on Middle-earth Corporeality. Ed. Christopher Vaccaro. McFarland, 2013. 39-62. [peer-reviewed by book editor]

“A Single Leaf: Tolkien’s Visual Art and Fantasy.” (Co-authored with Jeffrey MacLeod). Mythlore 27:1/2 [103/104] (Fall/Winter 2008): 105-126. Print. Available [pdf] through the Mount Saint Vincent University E-Commons.

“Gender in Tolkien’s Works.” J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Ed.Michael Drout. New York: Routledge, 2007. 233-35. Print.

“History, Anglo-Saxon.” J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Ed. Michael Drout. New York: Routledge, 2007. 274-77. Print.

“Sexuality in Tolkien’s Works.”  J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Ed. Michael Drout. New York: Routledge, 2007, 601-03. Print.

“ ‘Oh…Oh…Frodo!’: Readings of Male Intimacy in The Lord of the Rings.” [pdf]  Modern Fiction Studies 50.4 (Winter 2004): 949-979. Print. Also available in Project Muse.

More peer-reviewed publications on Medievalism, Old English literature, and Pedagogy are listed below.

Tolkien research Conference proceedings

“Male Friendship in The Lord of the Rings: Medievalism, the First World War, and Contemporary Rewritings.” The Ring Goes Ever On: Proceedings of the Tolkien 2005 conference: 50 years of The Lord of the Rings. Vol. 1. Ed. Sarah Wells. Coventry:UK, 2008. 320-326. Print. Please note: The published version of this paper omitted the endnotes and the references. A complete version of the paper is available through Mount Saint Vincent University’s E-Commons.

Tolkien researchReview

Review of Dictionnaire Tolkien. Ed. Vincent Ferré. Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2012. Medievally Speaking: Medievalism in Review. 24 March 2014. http://medievallyspeaking.blogspot.ca/2014/03/dictionnaire-tolkien-ed-ferre.html.

Tolkien researchWork in progress /forthcoming

Articles:

“Beorhtnoth’s Journey: Alliterative Style and Poetic Tradition in Tolkien’s Re-vision of The Battle of Maldon.”

Tolkien researchConference papers

“Seers and Singers: Sub-creative Collaborators in Tolkien’s Fiction.” Tolkien Society Seminar, Leeds, UK. 2 July 2017.

“‘Backdreaming’ Beowulf‘s Scyld Scefing Legend.” Asterisk Tolkien: Filling Medieval Lacunae session. International Congress on Medieval Studies, University of Western Michigan, Kalamazoo. May 15, 2016. [Summary available here].

“‘If you’re a vivid visualizer’: Words and Images in Tolkien’s Sub-creative Process.” New York Tolkien Conference, Baruch College. June 13, 2015.

“Poetic Time Travel in ‘The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son.'”  12th Annual Tolkien at University of Vermont Conference, April 11, 2015.

“Researching Fandom in the Marquette University Tolkien Archives.” Popular Culture Association National Conference. Chicago. April 18, 2014.

“Tolkien’s Painterly Style: Landscapes in The Lord of the Rings.” Mythopoeic Society conference. Michigan State University, East Lansing. July 13, 2013.

“Tolkien’s Poetic Scholarship: Old English Meter and Modern Poetry.” Tolkien at Kalamazoo: Tolkien as a Medieval Scholar session. International Congress on Medieval Studies, University of Western Michigan, Kalamazoo.  May 9, 2013.

“The Death of Friends in Tolkien’s Works.”  Celebrating The Hobbit Conference. Valparaiso University, March 1-3, 2013.

“J.R.R. Tolkien’s Influence on Battle of Maldon Criticism.” 5th Annual Atlantic Mediaeval Association Conference. Acadia University, September 15, 2012.

“Tolkien’s Painterly Style: Descriptions of Nature in The Lord of the Rings.” Eighth Annual Tolkien Conference at the University of Vermont. April 10, 2011. (co-presented with Jeff MacLeod).

“Traditional Storytelling, Tolkien, and Contemporary Fandom.” 7th Annual Tolkien conference at the University of Vermont. April 9-11, 2010.

“Oral Tradition and Performance in Transmedia Storytelling.” 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI. May 12, 2008.

“Uncanny Landscapes and the Experience of War in The Lord of the Rings.” Fifth Annual Tolkien conference, University of Vermont. April 12, 2008.

“Beorhtnoth’s Journey: Alliterative Style and Poetic Tradition in Tolkien’s Re-vision of The Battle of Maldon.” 42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 11, 2007.

“Typological History in Tolkien’s Mythology.” Past, Memory, and History: Third Annual Tolkien Conference. University of Vermont. Burlington, Vermont. April 8, 2006.

“The Lord of the Rings: Male Friendship, the First World War, and Contemporary Rewritings.” Tolkien 2005 conference. Aston University, Birmingham, UK. August 12, 2005.

“Frodo and Sam in Film and Fan Fiction.” Fortieth International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 8, 2005.

“Medieval Heroism and Modern Masculinity in The Lord of the Rings.” Nineteenth International Conference on Medievalism. University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick. October 2, 2004.

More conference papers on Medievalism, Old English literature, and Pedagogy are listed below.

Tolkien researchKeynote address

“Performance, Fiction, and Reality in Lord of the Rings Slash.” Slash 2 Fan Fiction Study Day conference at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. February 27, 2007.

Tolkien researchTalks

“Fandom in the Classroom.” MSVU Research Remixed, poster presentation, November 15, 2016. (This item is also cross-listed in the Pedagogy section).

“All Tolkien All the Time.” MSVU English Department: What I Did Last Summer.” September 21, 2016.

Travels with Tolkien.” MSVU English Department: What I Did Last Summer. October 14, 2015.

“A Journey through The Lord of the Rings.” Public lectures at Keshen-Goodman Library, Halifax, October – November 2010. Follow-up events in 2010-2011.

“Collaborative Writing and Tolkien Scholarship.” Presentation with Dr. Jeff MacLeod (Political Studies Dept.) at a Writing Initiatives Committee presentation, Mount Saint Vincent University. March 19, 2009.

“Oral Tradition and Performance in Lord of the Rings Transmedia Storytelling.” Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty Research Dialogue Series. January 23, 2009.

“A Single Leaf: Tolkien’s Visual Art and Fantasy” poster presentation with Dr. Jeff MacLeod (Political Studies Dept.) at the Mount Saint Vincent University Research Open House. Rosaria Centre, February 11, 2009.

The Lord of the Rings and Fan Fiction” at the Mount Saint Vincent University Research Open House. Rosaria Centre, February 8, 2007.

“Women, Tolkien, and Fan Fiction.” MSVU Faculty Research Dialogue Series. October 20, 2006.

Tolkien researchInterviews

Anderssen, Erin. “GR8 news: We’re Entering a New era of Literacy.” Globe and Mail 5 Dec. 2009.

Scott, Alec. “Fellowship of the Rings: Tolkien fans get ready to rumble (again).” CBC.ca. February 2, 2006.

Tolkien researchReview

Invited pre-publication review of Lembas for the Soul: How The Lord of the Rings Enriches Everyday Life.Ed. Catherine Kohman. Whitetreepress, 2005. Web.

More talks and reviews are listed in the Medievalism, Old English literature, and Pedagogy sections below.

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Research on medievalismMedievalism

Medievalism involves a study of the way in which aspects of the Middle Ages are understood in later times. This field of research can include study of the development of medieval scholarship as well as imaginative re-creations of the medieval in art, music, fiction, film, and so on. In the field of medievalism, I have worked primarily on children’s versions of medieval stories in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, though my current work in progress extends that view to recent adaptations of Beowulf for young readers. I have also worked on the eighteenth-century Anglo-Saxonist Elizabeth Elstob and plan to return to that subject again. Of course, most of my work on Tolkien’s fiction (listed in the section above) could also be classified as studies in medievalism.

Research on medievalismPeer-reviewed publications on medievalism

The Child, the Primitive, and the Medieval: Making Medieval Heroes in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries” in The Hero Recovered: Essays on Medieval Heroism in Honor of George Clark. Ed. R.Waugh and J. Weldon. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan /Medieval Institute Publications, 2010. 208-227. Print. Download the pdf here.

“Pleasure, Progress, and the Profession: Elizabeth Elstob and Contemporary Anglo-Saxon Studies.” Studies in Medievalism IX. D.S. Brewer: Cambridge, 1999. 80-97. Print.

“The ‘Savage’ and the ‘Civilized’: Andrew Lang’s Representation of the Child and the Translation of Folklore.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 21:4 (Winter 1996): 177-183. Print. Also available through Project Muse.

“Heroic Ideology and the Children’s Beowulf.” Children’s Literature 22 (1994):90-100. Print. Also available through Project Muse.

More peer-reviewed publications on Tolkien, Old English literature, and Pedagogy are listed in other sections on this page.

Research on medievalismBook review

Rev. of Literary Appropriations of the Anglo-Saxons from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century. Edited by Donald Scragg and Carole Weinberg. Dalhousie Review 82.1 (Spring 2002): 183-184. Print.

 Research on medievalismConference papers

Beowulf and the Boy Problem.” 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies. Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. May 2009.

“Pleasure, Progress, and the Profession: Elizabeth Elstob and Contemporary Anglo-Saxon Studies.” Twelfth International Conference on Medievalism. Canterbury, England. August 14, 1997.

“The Child, the Primitive, and the Medieval: Disciplinary Relations and Canon Formation.” Second Biennial Conference on Modern Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature. Nashville, Tennessee. April 11, 1997.

“The Female Critic and the Mother Tongue: Elizabeth Elstob’s Anglo-Saxonism.” Thirtieth International Medieval Congress. Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 5, 1995.

“Translating the Past to Construct the Child: Andrew Lang and Nineteenth-Century Philology.” First Biennial Conference on Modern Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature. Nashville, Tennessee. April 22, 1995.

“Making Heroes in the Present: English Legends at the Turn of the Century.” Modern Language Association. New York. December 1992.

“Medievalism and Children’s Literature.” Seventh Annual General Conference on Medievalism. University of South Florida. Tampa. September 30, 1992.

“The Ideology of Heroism and the Children’s Beowulf.” Association of Canadian University Teachers of English. Victoria, B.C. May 22, 1990.

“Literary Values and Canon Formation: The Creation of Beowulf as Children’s Literature.” Atlantic University Teachers of English. Dalhousie University. October 29, 1988.

Conference papers on Tolkien, Old English literature, and Pedagogy are listed in other sections on this page.

Research on medievalism Plenary Address

Beowulf and Boyology: On the Processes of Medievalism,” Past President’s plenary, Canadian Society of Medievalists, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. May 29, 2012.

Research on medievalismTalks

Beowulf and The Boy Problem: Translations and Adaptations of Beowulf in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” Dalhousie English Speakers series, Dalhousie University, January 27, 2012.

Beowulf and The Boy Problem,” Faculty Research Dialogue series, Mount Saint Vincent University. January 21, 2011.

“The Child, the Primitive, and the Medieval Scholar,” English Department Colloquium, Mount Saint Vincent University. January 12, 1995.

Research on medievalismInterview

Courtly love and candy-coated celebrations.” Mount Saint Vincent News Room. February 13, 2015.

More talks, reviews, and interviews are listed in the Tolkien, Old English literature, and Pedagogy sections on this page.
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Research on Old English LiteratureOld English Literature

My research in Old English literature focuses on allegory and typology in Old English poetry and on how memory-training could mediate between orality and literacy in the creation of poetry in this era; however, this research has been on hold for a while as I finish up other projects, though its influence on some of my Tolkien work might be evident.

Old English researchPeer-reviewed publication on Old English literature

Please note that my research on Beowulf is listed in the Medievalism section. 

“Things Speaking and Speech ‘Thinging’: Riddlic Voices and The Seafarer.” English Studies in Canada 20 (Sept. 1994): 249-265. Print.

More peer-reviewed publications on Tolkien, Medievalism, and Pedagogy are listed in other sections on this page.

Old English researchConference papers

“Memorial Culture, Boethius, and the Old English Order of the World.” Canadian Society of Medievalists: Humanities and Social Sciences Congress, University of Western Ontario. May 30, 2005.

“Ethopoeic and Prosopopoeic Voices in Old English Allegory.” Modern Language Association. Washington, D.C.. December 28, 1989.

“Boethian Order and Poetic Knowledge.” International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. Durham, England. August 8, 1989.

“Sign Theory and the Text of Creation in Old English Literature.” Association of Canadian University Teachers of English. Windsor. May 28, 1988.

“The Drama of Re-enactment: The Typological Imagination in Old English Literature.” Atlantic University Teachers of English Conference on Literature and History. Mount Allison University. October 31, 1987

“The Typological Structure of The Seafarer.” Association of Canadian University Teachers of English. Winnipeg. May 31, 1986.

“Typological Exegesis and the Old English Phoenix.” The Ottawa-Carleton Medieval-Renaissance Conference. March 22, 1986.

More conference papers on Tolkien, Medievalism, and Pedagogy are listed in other sections on this page.

 Old English researchTalks

“Source Studies and the Old English poem The Order of the World.” English Literature Before 1800 Colloquium. Mount Allison University. September 30, 2000.

“Allegorical Voices in Old English Poetry.” English Department Colloquium, Mount Saint Vincent University. January 1990.

 Old English researchBook reviews (medieval literature)

Rev. of Devils, Women, and Jews: Reflections of the Other in Medieval Sermon Stories by Joan Young Gregg and To the Glory of Her Sex: Women’s Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts by Joan M. Ferrante. Atlantis 22.2 (Spring 1998 ): 155-157. Print.

Rev. of “Earle Birney, Essays on Chaucerian Irony and John Leyerle and Anne Quick, eds. Chaucer: A Bibliographical Introduction.” English Studies in Canada 13 (1987): 468-473. Print.

More talks and reviews are listed in the Tolkien, Medievalism, and Pedagogy sections on this page.

Old English research Work in progress

“Memorial Culture, Boethius, and the Old English Order of the World.”

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Research on teaching and learningPedagogy: research on teaching and learning

Throughout my various research fields, I have been interested in pedagogy, from the Anglo-Saxon period to eighteenth-century women’s educations to Victorian school texts to the contemporary university classroom. Some of my publications deal specifically with university teaching today, while others provide an historical view of teaching and learning practices.

Pedagogy researchPeer-reviewed publications

“Adaptation as Analysis: Creative Work in an English Classroom.” Fan Studies in the Classroom. Edited by Katherine Howell, U of Iowa P, forthcoming. (This essay is also listed in the Tolkien section above).

“Teaching Tolkien in the First-Year Literature Survey Course.” Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Other Works. Ed. Leslie Donovan. New York: MLA Publications, 2015. 191-99. Print. (This essay is also listed in the Tolkien section above).

“Voicing Interpretations: Peer Learning and Self-Assessment in a First-Year Literature Assignment.” 2013 Atlantic Universities’ Teaching Showcase Proceedings 17 (July 2014): 134-42. [pdf]

“Think Like a Professor!”: Student and Faculty Perceptions of Course Policies.” 2010 Atlantic Universities’ Teaching Showcase Proceedings 14 (2010):55-59. [pdf]

Please see “Pleasure, Progress, and the Profession” listed under Medievalism, above.

Pedagogy researchConference papers

“Voicing Interpretations: Peer Learning and Self-Assessment in a First-Year Literature Assignment.” Assessment: Quality, Teaching, Learning: Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase. Mount Allison University, October 26, 2013.

“Creativity and Adaptation in English Literature Assignments.” Connections: Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase. Mount Saint Vincent University, October 29, 2011.

Please see “Traditional Storytelling, Tolkien, and Contemporary Fandom” listed under Tolkien, above.

“Think Like a Professor!” Furious Five Closing Plenary Panel. Key Changes: Transitions in Our Students, Our Classrooms, Ourselves.” Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase, UPEI. September 25, 2010.

Pedagogy researchTalks

“Fandom in the Classroom.” MSVU Research Remixed, poster presentation, November 15, 2016. (This item is also cross-listed in the Tolkien section above).

Co-facilitator, “Writing for University” session, MSVU Celebration of Teaching and Learning, August 2016.

“Adaptation and Creative Projects in Literature.” Centre for the Arts in Research and Teaching (CAIRT). Mount Saint Vincent University. March 6, 2014.

“Wikipedia and Participatory Culture.”  Invited speaker, St. Thomas University and Mount Saint Vincent (online session). November 2012. Part of Celebrating Writing Week at MSVU.

“Writing for University.” MSVU School Counsellor Symposium: Guiding Students to a Successful Transition to Post-Secondary Education.” October 21, 2010.

“The Wikipedia Controversy: Its Use and Misuse in Academic Research.” Writing Initiatives Committee presentation. March 13, 2007.

“On Technology in the Classroom.” President’s Symposium on Teaching. Mount Saint Vincent University. October 18, 1996.

“Safety First? Rethinking the Comfortable Classroom.” Faculty Day speaker, Mount Saint Vincent University. August 29, 1996.

“An Introduction to Children’s Literature.” Invited speaker, Dartmouth Teachers’ Centre. September 28, 1988.

“The History of Children’s Literature.” Invited speaker, Nova Scotia Children’s Literature Roundtable. March 3, 1988.

More papers and presentations are listed in the Tolkien, Medievalism, and Old English sections on this page.

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Images

Floral drawing by TolkienFloral design by Tolkien. I believe this image first appeared in the J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar of 1979 published by Allen and Unwin. Please let me know if this information is incorrect. The image can also be found online.

research introductionFloral design by Tolkien. I believe this image first appeared in the J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar of 1979 published by Allen and Unwin. Please let me know if this information is incorrect. The image can also be found online.

Heraldic device for EarendilHeraldic device for Earendil by Tolkien.  I believe this image was first published in the 1978 Silmarillion calendar. Please let me know if this information is incorrect. This image is widely available online.

Research on medievalismllustration by J.R. Skelton for Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children. Story by H.E. Marshall. 1908.

Research on Old English LiteratureGold piece from the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard, an Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard dating from the 6th-8th century CE.

Research on teaching and learningChristine de Pizan teaching four men, from a 15th-century manuscript. British Library, Ms. Harley 4431, f° 259. The image is taken from Wikimedia Commons and is also widely available online.

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