Binding them all
Monika Kirner-Ludwig, Stephan Köser & Sebastian Streitberger (editors)
Cormarë Series No. 37
This volume "binds" a collection of selected papers that emerged from the J.R.R. Tolkien-lecture-series initiated at the University of Augsburg in 2014. Each of the papers is representative of the editors' interest in the interdisciplinary potentials of Tolkien's works and the joint venture to make his legacy visible and accessible from the viewpoint of numerous academic disciplines. Our contributors are experts as well as junior scholars from the fields of Literature and Linguistics, Geography, History, as well as Communications and Cultural Studies.
Table of contents
Stephan Köser (with Monika Kirner-Ludwig & Sebastian Streitberger)
Oliver M. Traxel
J.R.R. Tolkien saw himself primarily as an academic, a researcher in and teacher of medieval literature(s) and languages. Literary fame came relatively late – The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954-55 when Tolkien was approaching retirement. This late success as an author of fiction did not fundamentally change Tolkien's self-perception as (primarily) an academic. A closer look at his academic work is therefore crucial for a deeper understanding and appreciation of his literary works.
Since J.R.R. Tolkien was both philologist and writer, text linguistics as the
interface between linguistics and literature provides a most suitable instrument
for a thorough analysis of his lecture """Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics",
which was given on November 25, 1936.
Within film marketing, trailers have developed as the most effective way of advertising
new films since the first days of cinema (Hediger, "Gedächtnis" 112).
Setting out from a marketing perspective on film trailers, this paper combines
a multimodal analysis of The Lord of the Rings trailers with Roman Jakobson's
functions of language (On Language), using the latter as a framework to describe
the trailers' communicative functions on their micro levels, i.e. concerning certain
modes like image, speech, writing etc. as well as the interrelations of these modes.
The characters of Arthur King of Britain and his Knights of the Round Table had become a fixture in English culture by the end of the first millennium (A.D.) and, soon after, in the 11th and 12th centuries in European literature, too. Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, they are an important part of world literature, while indeed the stories around King Arthur have evolved from legend to myth over the centuries. It is no wonder, then, that a scholar like J.R.R. Tolkien, interested in all manners of medieval stories, decided to study them further. For J.R.R. Tolkien, studying medieval literature often meant translating it, sometimes while re-working and transforming it in order to transport it into another age. In his essay "The Poem in Arthurian Tradition", Christopher Tolkien has already placed the work of his father into the line of the Arthurian literature, starting with Geoffrey of Monmouth's work Historia Regum Britanniae and ending with Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur, which is why I will not focus on the tradition of the story itself, but on the aspects in which Tolkien's story-telling differs from his sources, especially from Malory. By closely reading and comparing passages of Tolkien and Malory, Tolkien's work appears to be rather "un-medieval" despite the ancient metre. Today's reader of The Fall of Arthur may be especially struck by the alliterative metre, which nevertheless sounds quite dynamic to our modern ears and which helps rendering the old story in a cinematic way, while opening up new interpretatory avenues.
This essay employs an approach towards J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal epic The Lord of the Rings using an interdisciplinary angle of ecopsychological frameworks which understand the relevance of environmental well-being based on an embedment of individuals in undamaged ecological surroundings. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and its environment of the Middle-earth has attracted ecocritical scholars only recently yet quite distinctly. Obviously Tolkien can be categorized as ecocritical novelist whose concern of representing the opposition of a well-balanced environment of the Hobbit world and the Entsociety versus the machine-world of Sauron exemplifies how an interaction and interrelationship with an unspoiled environment seems necessary for physical as well as psychological balance. The very recent establishment of the discipline of ecopsychology, stressing the networked self being able to rely on an intact umwelt and thus establish mental stability, needs to be connected to not only nonfiction works, documentaries about natural catastrophes or decidedly realist fiction. Tolkien's high-fantasy work can very well be analyzed in an interdisciplinary way combining ecopsychological standpoints with a stress on how literature enforces empathy showing how especially the genre of fantasy helps establishing an interrelationship of "nature", environment and the human and non-human self. Ideas of nostalgia and ecology, reconceptualized by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht with the term of solastalgia shimmer through Tolkien's narration even though Albrecht's term was only established recently. Solastalgia as "nature distress syndrom" refers to the psychological impact of destruction of a formerly intact environment. This essay will explore the challenge and necessity of interdisciplinary approaches towards literature and psychopathology, carefully investigate (pop) psychological influences that shaped Tolkien's notion of psychopathological characters in The Lord of the Rings (such as Gollum/Sméagol), analyze misconceptions of psychological categories and diagnoses usually applied to some characters, explain how the concept of solastalgia applies, and how Tolkien negotiates trauma and post-trauma while at the same time allow for a development of environmental and thus ecopsychological healing in terms of a proposed concept of mental sustainability.
J.R.R. Tolkien was a genuine word-lover who invented a considerable number of languages with the utmost meticulousness. In need of a world in which some of his invented languages could become alive, he created the famous mythology of Middle-earth, which is therefore largely a product of his philological convictions. Close inspection reveals that the linguistic universe unfolded in The Lord of the Rings implicitly, and yet decidedly, contradicts established linguistic theory, i.e. de Saussure's arbitrariness of the linguistic sign. For instance, the principle of arbitrariness is challenged by Tolkien's decision to equip the heroes of his novel with pleasantly sounding languages and, in turn, the villains with abominably sounding ones. His language making depends on the concepts of phonetic fitness and linguistic aesthetics and represents a plea in their favour. In this essay, several of Tolkien's invented languages are examined with a special focus on tracing their underlying linguistic aesthetics and phonetic fitness. Due to the lack of a single coherent account of his convictions, this essay aims at compiling a Tolkienian linguistic theory by drawing on some of his literary and scholarly works as well as his rich written correspondence.
Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy followed in the
footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien and the defining importance of his novel for
fantasy literature. Film and literature have certainly both been imported into
everyday educational life all around the world. Fantasy arguably has not. Thus,
this paper argues that supposedly non-educational (fantasy) films can in fact
be used effectively for educational purposes if educators view them through
their individual scientific – in the case of this essay geographical – glasses. I
seek to demonstrate my point by taking Peter Jackson's filmic interpretation
of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as a starting point and by bringing
it together with the fundamental geographical concept of space.
In April 1953 in a letter to his publisher (L 168) J.R.R. Tolkien writes: "Maps are worrying me. One at least (which would then have to be rather large) is absolutely essential." Why were maps so important to Tolkien? How were the maps produced that graced the first publication of The Lord of the Rings? And how do these maps differ from Tolkien's imagined worlds? Every map tells a story and different maps fulfil varying functions. How are these functions linked to the acts of creating a world, exploring its geographical extent and content, getting an overview or presenting the world to a group of readers? While examining the relationship between Tolkien's sketches, maps and his writing it becomes clear that J.R.R. Tolkien was too deeply immersed in his world to produce an overview map. The act of exploring and collating material for a story produces a cognitive collage. By contrast, the act of presenting the geography of the final story demands a map. Mapping imagined worlds requires detachment from the richness of the described geography.
My paper examines the stylistic device of the kenning and analyses why and how Tolkien used it in his novel The Lord of the Rings. I argue that the strict rules and premises that the elaborate form of the kenning achieved in the Old Norse poetry cannot and should not be regarded as binding for the Old Celtic and Old English kennings that can also be considered as models for Tolkien – nor are they direct models for the Tolkienian kennings themselves. There are many Tolkienian kennings that fully comply to even the strictest requirements of the Old Norse kennings, but just as many deviate from the Old Norse tradition and show greater affinity to Old English kennigs, and should therefore be examined with regard to their kenning-character.
On a number of occasions, Tolkien's literary works contain words or even small passages that may sound alien to the modern reader. However, these are not always mere inventions. In fact, many expressions used to be part of the English language, even if they have become extinct or have changed to such an extent that they are no longer recognisable to speakers of Present-Day English. But there are also other languages or language stages that served as an inspiration for particular forms, such as Welsh or Old Norse. For example, some striking evidence is found in the names of certain characters in Middle-earth, which often reflect inherent traits if translated from their source language, such as Théoden, the Old English word for "ruler". Éomer even addresses him with the Old English greeting "Westu hál!". Such occurrences are therefore an ideal resource to create an interest in language history among those who are not yet familiar with it. This article shows how both Tolkien's fiction and scholarly work can serve to introduce both students and general readers to some key aspects of historical linguistics, in particular with regard to English.
The central impetus for this piece is my curiosity about how the pre-modern
pagan mythological figure of the Green Man manifests itself in English
literary genres that were very much pertinent to J.R.R. Tolkien's areas of
scholarship. In my elucidations of the figure of the Green Man in the medieval
Arthurian romance poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as translated
by Tolkien as well as his fantasy cycle of The Lord of the Rings, I explore
how the liminality of this figure in the English imagination can be used to
reflect on discourses around literary representations of forms of Otherness.
More on Binding them all Interdisciplinary Perspectives on JRR Tolkien and His Works