Sunday, May 15, 2022

days 5-6 at Kalamazoo

Though I'd have liked to attend some other items, in the end all I got to attend online of the last two days of the International Medieval Congress was 1.5 of the 2 Tolkien sessions.

One on the new book The Nature of Middle-earth was billed as a roundtable, which meant only that the 3 papers had less formal status than they would otherwise, and that the session wasn't recorded, which means that I can't go back and check on what I heard. Which is a problem, because it didn't hold my interest while it was going on. Two of the presenters didn't really talk about the book at all, but discoursed to no particular effect on Tolkien's use elsewhere of themes that are in the book, one of whom reinvented all the tired weak arguments we've heard before as to why Tolkien was not a racist. Only the third had anything interesting to say about the book, and its value was matched by one offhand remark made in a paper about something else in another session.

The other session was boldly titled "New Readings of The Lord of the Rings," but I only got to hear two papers before my internet connection started to fry as it frequently does in the late afternoon, and frankly I was getting a little tired of hearing presentations, however earnestly and skillfully done, of very old and basic readings of The Lord of the Rings.

I'll credit my own schedule and availability issues, and the difficulty I have in sitting through extensive non-interactive online sessions, with about half of the disappointment I felt with this year's Congress. But only half.

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