Tolkien Seminar 2023 – Call for Papers [EN] & Scholarship

Island 2017 - Tobias M. Eckrich

With other eyes: 
The Visualisation of Tolkien’s Work

Call for Papers for the 19th DTG Tolkien Seminar
(27-29 October 2023, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany)

Paper requirements

Tolkien himself often sketched places and landscapes during the writing process in order to visualise his literary descriptions. His illustrations for The Hobbit as well as the iconic maps of Middle-earth attest to the high value he placed on visualising and concretising his secondary world. Soon after their publication, his works were also illustrated by other artists or inspired them to create paintings depicting scenes from Tolkien’s tales. Alan Lee and John Howe are probably the best-known visual artists of this category, and as ‘chief conceptual designers’ for Peter Jacksons films, they have shaped the vision of Middle-earth of millions of people – which is currently both reinforced and challenged by the Amazon series Rings of Power. Furthermore, there have always been artists who found their own approach to Tolkien’s work and sometimes create interpretations through visual representation (see, for example, Jay Johnstone’s painting ‘Isildur’).

The aim of this seminar is to bring together researchers from different disciplines and fields to explore the different approaches to visualising Tolkien’s work. Possible starting points for lectures could be:

  • From Rankin & Bass’ The Hobbit (1977) and Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings (1978) to Amazon’s The Rings of Power (2022- ): The visualisation of Tolkien’s work on screen.
  • International book illustrations
  • ‘Stand-alone’ artworks from paintings to origami
  • Evil and ugly: The representation of Orcs in film and performing arts.
  • Noble and majestic: the depiction of the Elves in opposition to the ‘fairies’.
  • Graphic novels (e.g. David Wenzel’s The Hobbit)
  • Fan art
  • Maps between structural element and ornament
  • The representation of Middle-earth in video games (e.g. Lord of the Rings Online), board games, tabletops and RPG.
  • Visualisation in Cosplay, LARP and Re-enactment

Seminar and entry informations

The 19th Seminar of the German Tolkien Society is supported by Walking Tree Publishers and will take place in a hybrid format (predominantly in person but with online options) at the Seminar for English Philology at the Georg-August-University Göttingen on 27-29 October 2023.

Interested applicants are requested to send a short abstract (no longer than one page) and a short biography as well as their preference (attendance in person or online presentation) to Thomas Fornet-Ponse by 30 May 2023:


Selected publications on the topic

  • Bushell, Sally. 2016. ‘Paratext or Imagetext? Interpreting the Fictional Map.’ Word & Image 32.2: 181-194.
  • Day, David. 1979. A Tolkien Bestiary. London: Mitchell Beazley.
  • Day, David. 1993. Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia. London: Mitchell Beazley.
  • Ekman, Stefan. 2013. Here Be Dragons. Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Ferré, Vincent and Frédéric Manfrin (eds.). 2019. Tolkien. Voyage en Terre du Milieu. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France /Christian Bourgois editeur.
  • Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. 1995. J.R.R. Tolkien. Artist & Illustrator. London: HarperCollins.
  • Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. 2011. The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. London: HarperCollins.
  • Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. 2015. The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. London: HarperCollins.
  • Honegger, Thomas. 2018. ‘Commentary.’ Jay Johnstone. Tolkienography: Isildur’s Bane & Iconic Interpretation with Commentary from Thomas Honegger. Limited edition (500 copies)., 11-45. [Freely available on]
  • Kowalski, Jesse (ed.). 2020. Enchanted. A History of Fantasy Illustration. Norman Rockwell Museum. New York and London: Abbeville Press Publishers.
  • MacLeod, Jeffrey J. and Anna Smol. ‘Visualizing the Word: Tolkien as Artist and Writer.’ Tolkien Studies 14 (2017): 115-131.
  • McIlwaine, Catherine (ed.). 2018. Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. Oxford: Bodleian Library.
  • McIlwaine, Catherine (ed.). 2018. Tolkien Treasures. Oxford: Bodleian Library.
  • Merriner, Joel. 2021. ‘A Bridge Invisible. Motif Borrowing and Dislocation in Soviet Bloc Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings.’ Paper given at the Tolkien Society Seminar ‘Translating and Illustrating Tolkien’ on 06 November 2021.
  • Sundmark, Björn. 2017. ‘Mapping Middle-earth.’ In Nina Goga and Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (eds.). 2017. Maps and Mapping in Children’s Literature: Landscapes, Seascapes and Cityscapes. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, 221-237.
  • Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. 1979. Pictures by JRR Tolkien. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  • Wenzel, David. 2000. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit. Graphic novel. Revised edition. First edition 1990. London: HarperCollins.

DTG Conference Scholarship

The DTG offers one conference scholarship for junior researchers in the field of Tolkien studies for the 19th DTG Tolkien Seminar (Göttingen 2023).

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 scholarship. 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 scholarship is 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 500,00. The scholarship holder is reimbursement after the seminar and once the receipts have been submitted. Each scholarship holder receives a certificate of achievement at the conference.
  5. The scholarship holder is to submit his/her paper for publication in Hither Shore. It undergoes the same peer-review process like all other submissions.

Please send scholarship applications for the 19th DTG conference on ‘The Visualisation of Tolkien’s Work’ (Göttingen, 27 to 29 October 2023) till 30 May 2023 to:

Thomas Fornet-Ponse:


Titelfoto: Tobias M. Eckrich

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