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Tolkien and Politics

17th Tolkien Seminar (23th – 25th October 2020)
University of Augsburg
Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft e.V. (DTG)

Call for Papers

My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy.
(J.R.R. Tolkien, letter to Christopher Tolkien, 29 Nov. 1943; Letters no. 52)

Paper requirements

There probably isn’t any book that couldn’t be read politically, so it comes as no surprise that this would also be the case with The Lord of the Rings. As with many other themes, an enormous range of different ways of interpreting the text can be seen, as Schneidewind and Weinrich showed in their essay ‘Examples of the Exploitation of Middle-earth’. For example, Italian neofascists in the 1970s encountered one another in ‘Camp Hobbit’, while in 1993, insurgent civilians identified themselves with the hobbits during the Russian constitutional crisis and the struggle for the White House in Moscow.

There are, however, only a few academic and scientific studies on the political dimension of Tolkien’s work. Aside from van de Bergh’s 2005 German-language monograph, only in the last few years have two studies appeared which are dedicated to the subject (Witt and Richards 2014; Hren 2018), but by no means cover it comprehensively. Therefore the 17th Tolkien Seminar, building on from the 16th Seminar on ‘Power and Authority’, would like to bring researchers from various disciplines and specialist areas together, in order to research the literary implementation and theoretical foundations of the theme of ‘Politics’ in Tolkien’s work.

Possible approaches for submissions would be:

  • Historical and modern concepts of politics and their meaning for the understanding of Tolkien’s work
  • Political reception and interpretation of Tolkien’s work
  • Politics and language, or the language of politics in Tolkien’s work
  • Practice and understanding of politics of the various (non-)human cultures
  • Non-anthropocentric politics (e.g. politics and the Ents)
  • Gender roles and their function in politics
  • Politics and religion

Seminar and entry informations

The 17th Seminar of the German Tolkien Society is supported by Walking Tree Publishers and takes places at the University of Augsburg on 2325 October 2020. Those interested should send a short synopsis (no longer than one page) and a short biography by the 30th April 2020, to:

Thomas Fornet-Ponse:

DTG Conference Scholarship

This year the DTG will also award two conference scholarships 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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