Binding them all
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on JRR Tolkien and His Works

Monika Kirner-Ludwig, Stephan Köser & Sebastian Streitberger (editors)

Cormarë Series No. 37

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Binding them all Interdisciplinary Perspectives on JRR Tolkien and His Works 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 | abstracts | cover | announcements | more

Table of contents

Stephan Köser (with Monika Kirner-Ludwig & Sebastian Streitberger)
The Tolkien Journey at the University of Augsburg
1

Thomas Honegger
"Meet the Professor" A Present-day Colleague's View of Tolkien's Academic Life and Work
17
(abstract)

Monika Kirner-Ludwig
A Meta-pragmatic and Discourse-analytical Approach to Tolkien's "Beowulf The Monsters and the Critics": A Deliberate Look at its Edges, not its Center
39
(abstract)

Heike Krebs
"One trailer to bring them all and in the darkness bind them?" Lord of the Rings Trailers and their Communicative Functions
71
(abstract)

Birgit Schwan
Searching "For a Better Rhythm, or a Better Word or Phrase": Tolkien's Re-Telling of the Legend of King Arthur in Alliterative Metre
111
(abstract)

Heike Schwarz
Wounds That Can(not) Be Wholly Cured: Ecopsychology, Solastalgia and Mental Substainability in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
139
(abstract)

Magdalena Spachmann
Ethereal Elvish and Horrid Orkish: An Attempt to Capture J.R.R. Tolkien's Controversial Theory of Linguistic Aesthetics and Phonetic Fitness
169
(abstract)

Sebastian Streitberger
Concepts of Space in Middle-earth‘s Landscapes or the Potential of Fantasy and Film for School Geography
193
(abstract)

Sabine Timpf
Insights into Mapping the Imagined World of J.R.R. Tolkien
231
(abstract)

Carolin Tober
How J.R.R. Tolkien Used Kennings to Make The Lord of the Rings into a Medieval Epic for the 20th Century
253
(abstract)

Oliver M. Traxel
Exploring the Linguistic Past through the Work(s) of J.R.R. Tolkien: Some Points of Orientation from English Language History
279
(abstract)

Christine Vogt-William
Tolkien's Green Man: The Racialised Cultural Other Within and Green Spaces in The Lord of the Rings
305
(abstract)

 
table of contents | abstracts | cover | announcements | more

Abstracts

The Tolkien Journey at the University of Augsburg

Stephan Köser (with Monika Kirner-Ludwig & Sebastian Streitberger)

"Meet the Professor" – A Present-day Colleague's View of Tolkien's Academic Life and Work

Thomas Honegger

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.

A Meta-pragmatic and Discourse-analytical Approach to Tolkien's "Beowulf The Monsters and the Critics": A Deliberate Look at its Edges, not its Center

Monika Kirner-Ludwig

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.

Surely it was Tolkien's mission to convince the audience of Beowulf's complexity, literary value, and worth as Anglo-Saxon heritage and he succeeded in convincing both his audience and many critics. However, an analysis reveals that the lecture is plainly too profound, dense, and complex for aural reception, especially for a non-professional audience. This paper will argue and demonstrate on various linguistic levels that it is highly questionable that "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" was and is indeed (meant) to be fully grasped with nothing more than "a general knowledge [of] or interest" in Beowulf. My second and main claim is that Tolkien wove in numerous subtle linguistic traits that allow, when carved out and exposed, for intriguing insights into more than "just" a passionate defense of Beowulf as the "most successful Old English poem" (BMC 126). In order to make and sustain my point, I will propose an approach to Tolkien's text which puts his very own armamentarium to the test on a metalevel, namely the very textlinguistic principles he himself would apply to compose, shape and literally "weave" his texts to perfection.

"One trailer to bring them all and in the darkness bind them?" Lord of the Rings Trailers and their Communicative Functions

Heike Krebs

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.

A first comparison between twelve different film trailers shows a clear development from the very first trailer, aimed at advertising the whole trilogy, to the different trailers of the single films and the ones advertising the Blu-ray and extended edition of the trilogy. All of them must be seen in close connection to the well planned marketing strategy of the trilogy, which aimed at readers of the literary original and simultaneously needed to attract new spectators. For both purposes, certain (multi)modal patterns are used, which can be assigned to certain communicative functions.

Finally, the question of the communicative functions of trailers is considered within the contemporary context of media convergence, which has been essential for the economic success of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Searching "For a Better Rhythm, or a Better Word or Phrase": Tolkien's Re-Telling of the Legend of King Arthur in Alliterative Metre

Birgit Schwan

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.

Wounds That Can(not) Be Wholly Cured: Ecopsychology, Solastalgia and Mental Substainability in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Heike Schwarz

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.

Ethereal Elvish and Horrid Orkish:
An Attempt to Capture J.R.R. Tolkien's Controversial Theory of Linguistic Aesthetics and Phonetic Fitness

Magdalena Spachmann

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.

Concepts of Space in Middle-earth‘s Landscapes or the Potential of Fantasy and Film for School Geography

Sebastian Streitberger

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.

After establishing a theoretical basis for using film (as a medium) and fantasy (as a genre) in the classroom, the second part of this paper will focus on a discussion of strategies to adapt Tolkien's Middle-earth for geography education. To embed these discussions within a geography teaching frame, I will introduce various perceptions of geographical space: from the early – yet not outdated – concept of "material space" (e.g. through the concept of "ecozones") and "systematically ordered space" (e.g. through the "Central Place Theory") to a more constructivist perspective on spaces (e.g. through concepts of "individually perceived space" or "socially constructed space"). In doing so, various geographical and non-geographical educational media such as maps, graphs, text information and drawings from and of Tolkien's oeuvre will be used to enhance Jackson's The Lord of the Rings for the classroom and steer students through Middle-earth's landscapes, while changing their spatial perception on the way. Likewise, teachers and educators are provided with an example so to unlock the educational potential of film and fantasy for their classrooms.

Insights into Mapping the Imagined World of J.R.R. Tolkien

Sabine Timpf

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.

How J.R.R. Tolkien Used Kennings to Make The Lord of the Rings into a Medieval Epic for the 20th Century

Carolin Tober

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.

Exploring the Linguistic Past through the Work(s) of J.R.R. Tolkien: Some Points of Orientation from English Language History

Oliver M. Traxel

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.

Tolkien's Green Man: The Racialised Cultural Other Within and Green Spaces in The Lord of the Rings

Christine Vogt-William

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.

The sets of relationships under examination consist of those between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Treebeard's dealings with the Hobbits and the specific interaction between the Druedain or the Woses represented by Ghân-buri-Ghân and the Men of Rohan, represented by Theoden on the eve of the War of the Ring. Informing my readings of these works is Verlyn Flieger's observation that "(t)he form and subject matter of J.R.R. Tolkien's major fiction clearly derive from the medieval genres of epic, romance and fairy tale", whereby he has reconceptualized many stock characters and reconfigured archetypal situations and contexts i.e. putting "a modern spin on many of his characters […] while at the same time keeping faith with the medieval types from which they derive" (Flieger, "Green Knight" 115).

I read the figure of the Green Man as functioning as a palimpsestic device in these texts, in that it evokes pagan cultural sensibilities that connote natural forces as having considerable influence on more Christian worldviews that mark the English cultural contexts. Thus a pertinent question then would be: could the Green Man function as a transcultural contact zone (see Mary Louise Pratt 1992) in these texts to allow for ruminations on constructions of the Self and the Other? A salient component in my ruminations here on both these Tolkienian works will be an intersectional lens considering forms of masculinity, religious and cultural standpoints Christian and pagan positions as well as their accompanying forms of racialization.

 
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Cover

Binding the all: Interdisciplinary perpectives on JRR Tolkien and his works

 
table of contents | abstracts | cover | announcements | more

Announcements

Book presentations in Augsburg (8th October 2017)
Binding Them All is published (8th October 2017)
Forthcoming and planned publications (21st July 2017)

 
339 pages, Walking Tree Publishers 2017, Cormarë Series No. 37, Editors: Monika Kirner-Ludwig, Stephan Köser & Sebastian Streitberger , ISBN: 978-3-905703-37-5.
 


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