Tolkien Society at the University of Wisconsin

Welcome to the web page of the Tolkien and Fantasy Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison!

Last modified: July 21, 2020

Who we are | Meeting schedule | How to join | For more information | Constitution | Links and items of interest | Past Meeting Topics

Who we are

The Tolkien Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was founded in September 1966. It met once a month ever since (during the first several years, twice a month), with a very few misses here and there (e.g., there were a couple of years when the group did not meet during the summer, but usually it did). In January, 2001, we changed our name to the Tolkien and Fantasy Society to reflect our broad interests better. In July, 2020, when it became clear that we would no longer be able to meet because of the coronavirus pandemic, we DISBANDED OUR GROUP. We will maintain our webpage, but we no longer meet.

We discussed:

  • The work of Tolkien (fiction, poetry, scholarly work, drawings and illustrations)
  • Critical essays about Tolkien
  • Adaptations of Tolkien’s work (movies, plays, radio drama, comics)
  • The work of the Inklings and his other friends (such as C. S. Lewis, W. H. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield)
  • Other fantasy and science fiction (e. g., E. R. Eddison, Kenneth Morris, William Morris, T. H. White, Peter S. Beagle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robin McKinley, Patricia Wrightson, et al.)
  • The literature of the Middle Ages (especially the works that Tolkien himself studied, such as the Old English Beowulf and the Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
  • World mythology (Tolkien was particularly interested in Germanic and Celtic myth)
  • Language (invented languages like Quenya and Sindarin as well as primary world languages)
  • Our journal, ORCRIST, appeared irregularly from 1967 to 1977, then was revived for issue number 9 to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2016. The eight issues that were previously published are now mostly out of print, though copies of numbers 3, 4, and 5 (which were co-published as TOLKIEN JOURNAL numbers 11, 13, and 14 respectively) may still be available from the Mythopoeic Society, for those who are interested. There is a set in the Memorial Library on the UW-Madison campus, as well as in a number of other libraries across the U. S.

Spring Semester, 2020

Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding whenever we break up [usually between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST)]. The location will be in Union South, 1308 W. Dayton Street (on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue, also fronting on W. Johnson St.), unless otherwise stated. Check “Today in the Union” for the exact room, either on one of the monitors in the building or on the website at

January 26, 2020 — Tolkien Biopic

Discussion of Dome Karukoski’s biopic Tolkien (2019). This is a dramatization not a documentary: a sort of fantasia on the early life of Tolkien. We will discuss how it works (or not) as drama and where it diverges from actual biography. A DVD is available that has deleted scenes and a commentary by the director.

February 16, 2020 — F&SF Movies

Discussion of the recent movies with a fantasy or science-fictional aspect. Possible titles include: Ad Astra, Birds of Prey, Cats, Color Out of Space, Dolittle, Frozen II, Gretel and Hansel, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Jumanji: The Next Level, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood [alternate history], Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Terminator: Dark Fate, Weathering With You, Yesterday. Come share your thoughts on whichever films you have seen.

March 8, 2020 — Rivers of London

Discussion of the series by Ben Aaronovitch (also known as the Peter Grant series) about a branch of London police devoted to magic and magical creatures such as ghosts and river goddesses. We will concentrate on the first novel in the series, called Rivers of London in the U. K. and Midnight Riot in the U. S. (published 2011). The other books in the series are Moon Over Soho (2011), Whispers Underground (2012), Broken Homes (2013), Foxglove Summer (2014), The Hanging Tree (2016), Lies Sleeping (2018, a novella) with the latest novel, False Value, due out in March, 2020. The October Man (2019) features the counterparts to the British wizards in the German police. Aaronovitch has also collaborated with Andrew Cartmel to write a series of comic books with the Rivers of London characters, illustrated by Lee Sullivan, and collected into graphic albums: Body Work (2016), Night Witch (2016), Black Mould (2017), Detective Stories (2017), Cry Fox (2018), Action at a Distance (2018), and Water Weed (2018).

April 19, 2020 — Pullman, Secret Commonwealth — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Discussion of Philip Pullman’s second novel in his new Book of Dust trilogy, The Secret Commonwealth (2019). Where Book of Dust One, La Belle Sauvage (2017), was a prequel to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, this new novel is set after it, continuing Lyra’s story.

May 17, 2020 — Biographies of Tolkien — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC

We will concentrate on: Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien: A Biography (1977); John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War (2003); and Raymond Edwards, Tolkien (2014).

Fall Semester, 2019

September 8, 2019 — The Fantasy Makers

This topic has been rescheduled from last February 17 when bad winter weather forced us to cancel our meeting. We’ll show clips from a DVD on Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and George MacDonald, and discuss.

October 13, 2019 — Good Omens

Discussion of Good Omens (1990) by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The Amazon/BBC series based on this novel and starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant can be brought up, but primarily this meeting will be devoted to the novel.

November 10, 2019 — The Early Delany

Discussion of the early science-fiction novels of Samuel R. Delany. Examples include The Jewels of Aptor (1962), The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965), Empire Star (1966), Babel-17 (1966), The Einstein Intersection (1967) and the Fall of the Towers trilogy consisting of Captives of the Flame (1963), The Towers of Toron (1964) and City of a Thousand Suns (1965).

December 8, 2019 — The Art of Virgil Finlay

We will have albums, calendars and magazines with samples of the beautiful artwork of this science-fiction illustrator, including his sample for The Hobbit. We will also have our usual cake catered by the Union.

January 26, 2020 — Tolkien Biopic

Discussion of Dome Karukoski’s biopic Tolkien (2019). This is a dramatization, not a documentary: a sort of fantasia on the early life of Tolkien. We will discuss how it works (or not) as drama and where it diverges from actual biography. A DVD is available that has deleted scenes and a commentary by the director.

Summer Semester, 2019


Memoriam to Gene Wolfe (1931-2019), who was a Tolkien fan and himself an acclaimed writer of science fiction and fantasy. In his early story “Trip, Trap” in Orbit 2 (edited by Damon Knight, 1967), Wolfe used “warg” for the name of a wolf-like alien creature, borrowing the word from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings after first clearing it with Tolkien. Read something by Gene Wolfe and come contribute.


Our favorite literary group lived during the period referred to as “the golden age of detective fiction” (roughly the years between the two world wars and a little beyond). Richard West has been researching connections between the Inklings and the “tekkies” contemporary with them, and will present his work-in-progress.


Our traditional discussion of recent movies with a fantasy or science fiction aspect. Possibilities include Aladdin, Aniara, Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Dark Phoenix, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The Lion King, Shazam, Spider-Man: Far from Home, possibly others. Come discuss whatever films you have seen or want to hear about from those who have seen them.

2 id=”schedule”>Meeting Schedule

Spring Semester, 2019


Discussion of the recently released films with a fantasy or science fiction aspect, e..g., Aquaman, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bumblebee, The Crimes of Grindelwald, Goosebumps 2, The Grinch, Halloween, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Mary Poppins Returns, Mortal Engines, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Venom. Watch the movies that interest you and come share your thoughts about them.


Discussion of these authors’ fantasy fiction and inter-relationships among them. We shall show clips from The Fantasy Makers, a 2018 documentary on Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and George MacDonald that includes scholarly commentary from Malcolm Guite, Kirsten Jeffrey Johnson, Alister McGrath, Michael Ward, and Rowan Williams. MEETING CANCELLED DUE TO HEAVY SNOW. THIS PROGRAM WILL BE RE-SCHEDULED TO SEPTEMBER 8, 2019.


Discussion of Rosa’s comic books featuring Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge McDuck, which he made into an internally consistent fictional world. Fantagraphics has now published all of these stories in a ten-volume set of graphic albums: vol. 1 “The Son of the Sun” (2014), vol. 2 “Return to Plain Awful” (2014), vol. 3 “Treasure Under Glass” (2015), vol. 4 “The Last of the Clan McDuck” (2015), vol. 5 “The Richest Duck in the World” (2016), vol. 6 “The Universal Solvent” (2016), vol. 7 “The Treasure of the Ten Avatars” (2017), vol. 8 “Escape from Forbidden Valley” (2017), vol. 9 “The Three Caballeros Ride Again” (2018), vol. 10 “The Old Castle’s Other Secret” (2018).


Discussion of Frankenstein Unbound (1973) by Brian Aldiss, a science-fiction novel in which a disturbance in the space-time continuum sends a man from the year 2020 into a version of the past where he encounters not only Victor Frankenstein and his creature, but also Mary Shelley while she is composing her classic novel. This should be an interesting follow-up to our discussion of Shelley’s Frankenstein last December.


Discussion of The Dreaming Jewels (1953) by Theodore Sturgeon. There are many copies of this early novel available online and locally at 20th Century Books (1421 South Park Street). You might also read some of Sturgeon’s short stories, for which he is even better known than for his novels. Collections include E Pluribus Unicorn (1953), Caviar (1955), and The Worlds of Theodore Sturgeon (1972).


“Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” Exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York City, NY, January 25 to May 12, 2019. See website

Friday, May, 3, 2019, 6:30 p.m. The C. S. Lewis Society of Madison is hosting Andrew Barron at Christ Presbyterian Church (chapel room, 2nd floor), 944 E. Gorham Street, Madison, WI. He will be speaking on “C. S. Lewis and the Jewish Imagination” and on “The Jewish Imagination of Joy Davidman” (Mrs. C. S. Lewis).

Memorial Day weekend, May 24-27, 2019 — WisCon 43 (Wisconsin Science Fiction Convention) at the Concourse Hotel, Madison, WI. Author Guests of Honor are G. Willow Wilson and Charlie Jane Anders. See website

August 2-5, 2019, Mythcon 50 (Mythopoeic Society annual conference), San Diego, CA. Author Guest of Honor is John Crowley. Scholar Guest of Honor is Verlyn Flieger. See website

August 7-11, 2019, Tolkien 2019 in Birmingham, England. 50th anniversary of the Tolkien Society. See website

October 18-20, 2019, 50th anniversary of the New York C. S. Lewis Society, Molloy Retreat House, Jamaica Estates, NY. See website

How to join

Simply show up to meetings! There are no dues, no requirements, no hazings, no pledges. If you are active in the fantasy and/or science fiction community, feel free to bring items of interest to meetings; we always have a “News and Notes” time in each meeting.

For more information

For more information on the Tolkien and Fantasy Society at the UW-Madison, feel free to send us email at

Links and items of interest

Here is a listing of the contents of all published issues of Orcrist, the Society’s journal.

And here is a listing of past meeting topics.

People interested in Tolkien’s languages can check the website of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship.

Other websites of groups that may be of interest:

Dorothy L. Sayers Society:

Madison C. S. Lewis Society:

Marquette University Tolkien Papers:

Mythopoeic Society:

Netherlands C. S. Lewis website (in English and Dutch):

Rivendell Group of the Mythopoeic Society (Twin Cities smial):

Tolkien Society (based in England):

Wade Center:

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