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Popular Culture and the Deep Past, 2015: Tolkien Days


OSU Tolkien 2015: There and Back Again Conference, Feb 20-21, 2015

A two-day event on February 20-21, 2015, sponsored and produced by CMRS, intended as a means to bring together faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and local communities to explore, celebrate, and critique the diverse historical and cultural themes that relate to The Hobbit and the other works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The multiple spaces reserved will allow for simultaneous academic panels, culinary demonstrations, arts and crafts presentations, live-action demonstrations, and other exhibits or activities, reflecting the juxtaposition of historical and cultural traditions to fantasy and creative invention that characterizes Tolkien's works. 

This is the second in a yearly series of events under the broader CMRS theme of 'Popular Culture and the Deep Past,' in which contemporary pop-cultural manifestations will be explored and celebrated with attention to their profound and wide-ranging historical and cultural contexts. A guiding principle of the series is to bring diverse communities together in and around Ohio State, including the academic and non-academic, scholarly and performative, creative, educational, and reflective communities. 


Academic Panels:

Friday, February 20

9:00 a.m.
Registration & Refreshments

9:30 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Graeme Boone, Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Mark Shanda, Arts and Humanities Divisional Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

10:00 – 12 noon

Session I: Riddles and Games                                  Cartoon Room 1
Session Chair: Travis Neel, The Ohio State University

      “That Guy Looks Like Aragorn!”: Repurposing Tolkien in Modern Media from Diablo to The Quest
      Samuel Brock                                                                       UNC- Chapel Hill

      “It likes riddles, praps it does, does it?”: Power, Play, and Gnomic Space in The Hobbit
      Jonathan Burgoyne                                                             The Ohio State University

      "The Board is Set, and the Pieces are Moving": Tolkien and Games
      James McNelis III                                                                Wilmington College

Session II:  Tolkien’s Audiences                                Cartoon Room 2
Session Chair: Dorothy Noyes, The Ohio State University

      Hospitality in Times of War: The Troublesome Guest, the Foreboding Host, and the Insecure Home in The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
      Hannah Swamidoss                                                                        Eastfield College

      The Union between The Two Towers and the Twin Towers: Contemporary Audience Reception and the Influence of War on The Lord of the Rings
       Alicia Fox-Lenz                                                                     Mythgard Institute

      Why the Halfling? The Hobbit as Formative Mythos for the Modern Age
      Katelynn Carver                                                                   University of St. Andrews

      Discovering the Deep Past: Hobbits and the Contemporary Reader
      Megan Murton                                                                     Xavier University

~12:00 – 1:30 ~ Lunch Break


1:30 – 3:30

Session III – Between Philosophy and Theory          Cartoon Room 1
Session Chair: Robey Clark Patrick, The Ohio State University

      Using Historical Criticism and Hermeneutics to Re-Imagine the Works of Tolkien
      Patrick Burns                                                                                               The Ohio State University

      “I wonder if we’ll ever be put into songs or tales”: Tolkien’s Meta-Narratives across Existential Boundaries
      Maria Alberto                                                                                               Cleveland State

      Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” and the Theoretical Definition of Fantasy
      Andrés Montañés-Lleras                                                              The Ohio State University

      Exiting the Cave: Bilbo’s Heroic Transformation
      Daniel Compora                                                                               University of Toledo

Session IVa – Language                                           Cartoon Room 2
Session Chair: Steve Bruso, Fordham University

      An Analysis of Tolkien’s Fictional Languages and Their Linguistic Value
      Larissa Cooney                                                       Southern New Hampshire University

      If You Teach It, They Will Come There and Back Again: 10 Years of a Tolkien-&-Language Class that Outdraws Linguistic Courses
      Richard Janda                                                                                   Indiana University

Session IVb – Tolkien’s Ecocritical Objects               Cartoon Room 2

      Things that Want Things: Agentic Objects in Middle Earth
      Anne Harriss                                                                                                DePauw University

      Tolkien’s Queer Elements: Thinking with Landscapes
      Christopher Roman                                                            Kent State University -  Tuscawaras


4:00 – 6:00

Session V – One Game to Rule Them All: LoTR Online (A Video Panel) 
Chair: Carol Robinson, Kent State University – Trumbull                          Cartoon Room 1

      Filling in Edges: Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion, and Lord of the Rings Online
      N.M. Heckel                                                                           American Military Academy

      Other Bones in the Lord of the Rings Online Soup
      Geoffrey B. Elliott                                                                 Oklahoma State University

      Racial Bodies in Digital Middle Earth 
      Helen Young                                                                         University of Sydney

      Drawing and Writing the Body (Shapes)
      Carol Robinson                                                                    Kent State University – Trumbull

6:00 – 8:00                                                               Orton Geological Museum,
Reception                                                                 Orton Hall


6:30 p.m.                                                                  Room 110,
Poetry and Flash Fiction Reading                            Orton Hall
 Ft. Paige Quiñones and Molly Olguin




Saturday, February 21

9:00 a.m.                                                                  Ohio Union
Registration and Refreshments                                Lower Level


9:30 – 11:30
Session VI – Tolkien & Music                           Lower Level Meeting Room
Chair: Brad Eden, Valparaiso University

      Creation’s Song: The Old English Foundation of Tolkien’s Ainulindalë
      Gary Fuller                                                                            Brigham Young University

       “The desire of the hearts of dwarves”: Misty Mountains Cold and Two Interpretations of Tolkien
      Dana Plank-Blasko                                                               The Ohio State University

       Shore’s Tolkien Music: Some Leit Reading
      Graeme Boone                                                                     The Ohio State University

       How and Why Symphonic?: Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings Scores and the Lord of the Rings Symphony
      Arved Ashby                                                                         The Ohio State University


Session VII – Representations                         Maudine Cow Room
Chair: Alan Kalish, The Ohio State University

       Representations of Female Characters in Illustrations of Tolkien’s Works
       Julie Lynne Drisdelle                                                          University of Moncton

      Tolkien’s Medieval Animals
      John Block Friedman                                                          The Ohio State University 

      Medieval Fashion and Tolkien Films
      Sarah Grace Heller                                                              The Ohio State University

      Tolkien in camera: Representing Middle-Earth in a Post(?)-Jacksonian Classroom
      Stephen Yandell                                                                   Xavier University

12:00 – 12:45                                                  Creative Arts Room 
Tolkien Artworks, Featuring Brad Eden           Lower Level, Ohio Union
Followed by a book signing (The Hobbit in Tolkien's Mythology: Essays on Revisions and Influences)
“Copies available for purchase on-site; cash or check payable to ‘The Ohio State University Foundation’”

1:00 – 2:30                                                               Hagerty 180

Falconry Demonstration                                  Hagerty Hall
w/ Joe Dorrian
Introduced by Professor James McNelis III, Wilmington College

2:30 – 4:30

Session VIII – Tolkien & Literary Studies (Roundtable)   Maudine Cow Rm
      Presider: Clare Simmons, The Ohio State University
      Richard Firth Green, The Ohio State University
      Karen Winstead, The Ohio State University
      Hannibal Hamlin, The Ohio State University
      David Brewer, The Ohio State University
      Brian Mcallister, The Ohio State University

Session IX - Tolkien Scholarship (Roundtable) Lower Level Meeting Room
Presider: TBA  
      James McNelis III, Wilmington College
      Carol Robinson, Kent State University – Trumbull
      Stephen Yandell, Xavier University
      Brad Eden, Valparaiso University

4:30 – 6:00

Session X – Bodies, Wounds, Affects             Lower Level Meeting Room 
Chair: Gabe Vicencio, The Ohio State Univeristy

      “Doughty Men”: The Male Body, Hardship, and Wounds in The Lord of the Rings
      Steven Bruso                                                                                               Fordham University

      Scars of Middle Earth
      Mary Kate Hurley                                                                             Ohio University

      Nothing Like Looking: The Stuplime and the Childish in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Adaptation/s
      Michael Harwick                                                                              The Ohio State University

Session XI – Video Game Workshop                Maudine Cow Room
Presider: Carol Robinson, Kent State University – Trumbull  
(Interested participants need to provide their own laptops with wifi capabilities in order to access and play along.)


Additional Attractions:


Please click here for more information on the Hobbit Tea,



Orton Geological Museum, Orton Hall

6:00-8:00 pm 



6:30 pm, Orton Hall room 110

Poetry and Flash Fiction Reading

Featuring Paige Quiñones and Molly Olguin


Creative Arts Room, Lower Level of the Ohio Union


9:00 am-12 noon 

Calligraphy Guild of Columbus

9:00 am-2:00 pm

Eric Johnson (Ohio State – Rare Books & Manuscripts), 

Mary-Allen Johnson (Ohio State – Hilandar Research Library)

Bradford Eden (Valparaiso U. – Library Services)

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Medieval Swords Display


Tolkien Artworks

Featuring Bradford Eden (Valparaiso University, Library Services)

Book signing

Followed by a book signing (The Hobbit in Tolkien's Mythology: Essays on Revisions and Influences)

Copies available for purchase on-site; cash or checks payable to "The Ohio State University Foundation"

Dance Room 1, Lower Level of the Ohio Union

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Children's Room and Game Room: Arts and Games for enthusiasts of all ages!

  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

  • The Hobbit: The Defeat of Smaug

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

  • Hobbit Tales

  • The Hobbit Card Game

  • Smaug Dragon Puzzle

Dance Room 2, Lower Level of the Ohio Union

10:00 am

Medieval Dancing

The Medieval and Renaissance Performer's Guild offers participants a lesson in the art of medieval dance.


2:30 pm

Medieval Dancing

David Sweeten (The Ohio State University) teaches participants the art of medieval dance and leads you along as you learn the steps.

4:30 pm

Stage Combat

The Medieval and Renaissance Performer's Guild brings some hits! Learn the strikes, holds, and grapples of early modern combat in this staged demonstration.

Lower Level Foyer, Ohio Union

9:00 am-4:00 pm

Alexandras Adornments

A vendor from the Ohio Renaissance Festival specializes in making jewelry, renaissance feather fans, mini top hats... and more!

Exhibit & Demonstration

Professor Richard Janda and student Morgan Smith (of Indiana University) will present samples of an invented language, discuss a Tolkien in-class activity ("The Adventures of Sage Alforge"), and play recorded excerpts of student projects that involve music, translation, or (other) conlangs.


Hagerty 046, Hagerty Hall


Screening of a lecture by Tom Shippey delivered at The Ohio State University in 2006

Facilitated by Professor James McNelis III

(Wilmington College)

Hagerty 180, Hagerty Hall


9:30 am

Film Screening #1:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition)


Falconry Demonstration

Featuring Joe Dorrian (falconer)

Introduced by Professor James McNelis III (Wilmington College)

2:30 pm

Film Screening # 2:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


Maudine Cow Room

4:30-6:00 pm

Video Game Workshop

Presider: Carole Robinson, Kent State University-- Trumbull

(Interested participants need to provide their own laptops with wifi capabilities in order to access and play along).


Unless otherwise indicated, all events will take place in the Ohio Union, 1739 N. High Street, or in Hagerty Hall, 1775 College Road, Columbus, OH 43210.

  • Tolkien Conference call for papers.
  • Tolkien Days registration form
    • ​Registration Deadline: Wednesday February 18!!!!
  • Hotel Accommodations: We have group rooms reserved at Hampton Inn & Suites (501 N. High Street). To make a reservation, please call  614-559-2000 and use the code TOL . You can also go to the website and use the promotional group code TOL.

You may also contact either Travis Neel, Robey Patrick, or Miriam Rudavsky-Brody at cmrs_gaa@osu.edu, or the main CMRS address at cmrs@osu.edu for more information.

To join the discussion of panel construction and content, see the Facebook group