Tolkien Seminar 2019 – Call for Papers! [EN] / Conference Scholarship

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Power and Authority in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien

16thTolkien Conference (11-13 October 2019)
Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft e.V. (DTG)

Call for Papers

‘Authority is not given to you, nor to any other lord, to order the hour of your death.’
(The Return of the King, The Pyre of Denethor)

A quick look into Richard Blackwelder’s old-fashioned (print!) A Tolkien Thesaurus (1990) leaves the reader with the impression that ‘power’ occurs frequently enough and that it is used mostly, though not exclusively, in a negative sense. ‘Authority’, by contrast, is a rare word and connected with the legitimate exercise of power. As so often in Tolkien, the etymologies of these two words provide further insights into their functions. ‘Power’ goes back to a Latin verbal root potere ‘to be able to do sth.’, whereas ‘authority’ has its origin in the Latin auctoritas ‘authority, power, might’, which in turn is derived from auctor ‘originator, creator, founder’. Thus, ‘power’ seems to be a term that is per se neutral and simply designates the ‘ability to do sth.’, for good or ill, whereas ‘authority’ provides the ultimately divinely sanctioned framework for the approved exercise of this power. To use power without or against authorial sanction constitutes thus a mis-use of this very power.

It is the aim of this seminar to bring together scholars from different disciplines and schools and to explore the narrative as well as the theoretical aspects of this dichotomy in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Possible topics for papers might be:

  • Contemporary and modern theories of Power and Authority and their relevance for Tolkien’s work
  • Power and Authority in language and rhetoric
  • Power and Authority in interpreting Tolkien’s work and legacy
  • Gender and the question of Power and Authority
  • Cultures and class and their stance towards Power and Authority
  • Power and Authority from religious perspectives
  • Humanoid creatures and godlike beings (Valar, Maiar etc.) and the question of Power and Authority
  • Different approaches to political, military, social etc. leadership

The 16th Seminar of the German Tolkien Society is supported by Walking Tree Publishers and takes place at the Department of English at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena from 11th-13th October 2019. Potential participants are kindly invited to send a brief abstract (no longer than one page) together with a short biographical sketch (five to ten lines) no later than 30 May 2019 to Thomas Fornet-Ponse:

DTG Conference Scholarship

The DTG proudly announces the creation of the annual conference scholarship for junior researchers in the field of Tolkien studies.

The following specifications apply:

  1. Applicants must be students, PhD candidates, or PostDoc researchers with (at the time of application) no more than one academic publication in the field of Tolkien studies, and be no older than 35 years.
  2. Applications, consisting of a brief CV and a short presentation of any Tolkien-related research or other activities, can be submitted together with the abstract for the conference presentation.
  3. The Board of Editors of Hither Shore, in consultation with the Board of the DTG, awards the scholarships. The Board of Editors of Hither Shore decides about the acceptance of submissions for the conference independently, so that applicants who did not succeed in securing a scholarship may still be invited to present their paper at the conference.
  4. The scholarships are meant to cover all travel- and accommodation expenses connected to the conference, as well as the conference dinner costs, up to but not exceeding Euro 500. The scholarship holders are reimbursed after the seminar and once the receipts have been submitted. Each scholarship holder receives a certificate of achievement.
  5. The scholarship holders are to submit their papers for publication in Hither Shore. They undergo the same peer-review process like all other submissions.


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