Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mythgard at Mythcon 44

This year's Mythcon was held at MSU, home of the Spartans (although the accommodations were happily less spartan than those at Kalamazoo).

The Grey Havens Group (from Longmont, CO, and one of the coolest Tolkien/mythopoeic discussion groups ever) has a nice round up of blog posts and a podcast about the weekend.

Presentations covered a variety of topics, such as: 
  • How the Respective Cosmogonies of Narnia and Middle-earth Affect Grief and Hope in the Environment (Trish Lambert)
    Ms Lambert brings a fresh awareness of grief in the Lord of the Rings from the characters' perspective. See More on Mythcon.
  • Tolkien's Painterly Style: Landscapes in The Lord of the Rings (Anna Smol)
    Ms Smol and colleague draw our attention to Tolkien's brilliant use of painterly techniques to bring his landscapes alive - it's obvious only after they point it out.  See More on Mythcon
  • Good Plain Food: Diet and Virtue in the Fantasies of Tolkien and Lewis (Kris Swank)
    Ms Swank reconsiders the age-old assumption that elves, as Good People, are vegetarians. Conclusion: Good guys in Lewis and Tolkien are locavores, not vegetarians.
  • The Musical Heart of the Lands of Narnia and Middle-earth (Dan Kinney)
    Mr Kinney makes his academic presentation debut! and (among other things) makes a good case for his conclusion that Aslan did not sing Narnia into creation... It was already there!
  • How Forests Behave—Or Do They? (Verlyn Flieger)
    Dr Flieger examines the evidence and concludes that even Tolkien did not fully understand the Hurons.... Style time: When Tolkien wants to distance himself from an explanation (i.e., not give it full weight and authority), he has Merry say it.
  • Giving Evil a Name: Buffy's Glory, Angel's Jasmine, and the Limiting (and Limited) Magic of Names (Janet Brennan Croft)
    Very fun - I wish I'd taken notes on this one. But I'm pretty sure it is coming soon to a scholarly publication near you! 
  • A Linguistic Exploration through Tolkien's Earliest Landscapes (Andrew Higgins)
    A cool sneak preview of Mr Higgins' thesis... He is focusing on the genesis of Tolkien's land and languages (1910's and 1920's if memory serves).
  • Concerning Hobbits: Tolkien and the Trauma of England’s 19th/20th Century Transition (Ryan W. Smith)
    An impressive debut!
Overall, Mythgard was well-represented, with eight attendees - and six of us were presenting papers.  Trish and Andy have made the big time: they both scored the largest venue of the conference.  (Yes, the same place where noted scholars Verlyn Flieger and Doug Anderson were presenting!)

Dr. Flieger won this year's Inkings Studies award for her most recent book of essays, Green Suns and FaĆ«rie.  

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