Today's Tolkien session, sponsored by the Marquette University Archives where many of his papers are kept, was on Tolkien and manuscripts. I expected something esoteric, and was delighted by the lucidity of the papers. One was a fairly light overview of racial and class dialects of English in The Lord of the Rings, viewed as if it were a historical manuscript; the other was a particularly virtuosic account of particularly viruosic actual medieval scholarship, showing how Tolkien used scribal letterforms and spellings to demonstrate that a particular Anglo-Saxon text was a 13th-century copy of a work composed around the 9th century. That he could analyze both composition and scribal dates at once without getting muddled was particularly impressive.
After that I hung around for part of a session on King Lear, because at least that's a work I know, and, indeed, if I had not known it I would not have been able to follow the papers. You'd think Shakespeare would be outside of the borders of medieval studies, but apparently not: there's a thriving Shakespeare track here. One of the papers had actual medieval leanings, though: it was on the Fool's prophecy with its mind-tickling final line, "This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time." The author showed the prophecy as deriving from a tradition of Merlinesque prophetic texts.
After that I had to get off for other things, but I'll be back tomorrow.