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: May 29, 2019

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 has been meeting 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.

We discuss:

  • 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

Summer Semester, 2019

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 http://www.union.wisc.edu

JUNE 9, 2019– GENE WOLFE AND TOLKIEN

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.

JULY 14, 2019– THE INKLINGS & DETECTIVE FICTION

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.

AUGUST 11, 2019– F&SF MOVIES

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.

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.

2 id=”schedule”>Meeting Schedule

Spring Semester, 2019

JANUARY 27, 2019– F&SF MOVIES

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.

FEBRUARY 17, 2019 – THE FANTASY MAKERS: TOLKIEN, LEWIS, MACDONALD

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.

MARCH 17, 2019 – THE DON ROSA LIBRARY

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).

APRIL 14, 2019 – FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND

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.

MAY 26, 2019 – THEODORE STURGEON, THE DREAMING JEWELS

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).

FORTHCOMING EVENTS:

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

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 http://www.wiscon.net

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 http://mythcon.org

August 7-11, 2019, Tolkien 2019 in Birmingham, England. 50th anniversary of the Tolkien Society. See website http://www.tolkiensociety.org

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

Fall Semester, 2018

SEPTEMBER 16, 2018 – TOLKIEN’S ART

The exhibit this year of Tolkien’s own paintings and illustrations at the Bodleian Library in Oxford from June into September published a catalogue edited by Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. We shall have on hand and discuss this catalogue as well as other books on this topic, including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (1995), The Art of The Hobbit (2011), The Art of the Lord of the Rings (2015), all by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.

OCTOBER 21, 2018 – THE FALL OF GONDOLIN

Discussion of this just-published book edited by Christopher Tolkien, bringing together versions of the story of Tuor and the fall of the Elf kingdom of Gondolin to examine its evolution. There is a summary of the story in chapter 23 of The Silmarillion.

NOVEMBER 18, 2018 – IN MEMORIAM HARLAN ELLISON

Discussion of the work of Harlan Ellison (1934-2018), writer of award-winning short stories, editor, essayist, scriptwriter [some produced (e.g., “City on the Edge of Forever” for Star Trek, “Demon With a Glass Hand” for The Outer Limits), some unproduced but still significant (e.g, movies of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot and of Will Eisner’s The Spirit)]. Everybody read something by Ellison and come contribute.

DECEMBER 9, 2018 —FRANKENSTEIN

Discussion of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley on its 200th anniversary.

Summer Semester, 2018

JUNE 17, 2018 – URSULA K. LE GUIN REMEMBERED

Discussion of the oeuvre of Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018), with focus on her classic novel, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). We shall also decide on topics for future meetings.

JULY 15, 2018 — THE LONG EARTH

Discussion of the first novel in the “Long Earth” series about parallel worlds by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth (2012).

AUGUST 19, 2018 – F&SF MOVIES

Discussion of the recently released films with a fantasy or science fiction aspect, e..g., Annihilation, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Christopher Robin, The Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,A Quiet Place, Solo, A Wrinkle in Time. Watch the movies that interest you and come share your thoughts about them.

Spring Semester, 2018

JANUARY 28, 2018 – F&SF MOVIES

Discussion of the recently released films with a fantasy or science fiction aspect, e. g. Blade Runner: 2049, Coco, Downsizing, Justice League, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok.

FEBRUARY 11, 2018 — LA BELLE SAUVAGE

Discussion of the first novel in Philip Pullman’s proposed new trilogy set in the world of his His Dark Materials series, The Book of Dust 1: La Belle Sauvage (2017). This is not quite a prequel but begins earlier and overlaps the time frame of the earlier published books, and shares some of the same characters while also introducing new ones. (This topic was postponed from our December, 2017 meeting).

MARCH 11, 2018 – BEAGLE, THE OVERNEATH

Discussion of the latest collection of short stories by Peter S. Beagle, The Overneath (Tachyon, 2017). Some of the stories feature Schmendrick from The Last Unicorn and one is set in the world of The Innkeeper’s Song.

APRIL 15, 2018 – McKILLIP, KINGFISHER

Discussion of Patricia McKillip’s latest novel, Kingfisher (2016). This won the 2017 Mythopoeic Award for Best Adult Fantasy.

MAY 6, 2018– TOLKIEN AND C. S. LEWIS ON MYTH

Discussion of Chip Duncan’s new documentary, Tolkien and Lewis: Myth, Imagination, and the Quest for Meanng (2017).

Note that the Odyssey Con science-fiction conference will not be held this year. WisCon will be held over Memorial Day weekend as usual; see http://www.wiscon.info for details.

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 tolkiensocietyuw@gmail.com.


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: http://www.sayers.org.uk/

Madison C. S. Lewis Society: http://www.cslewismadison.org

Marquette University Tolkien Papers: http://www.marquette.edu/library/archives/tolkien.shtml

Mythopoeic Society: http://www.mythsoc.org

Netherlands C. S. Lewis website (in English and Dutch): http://www.lewisiana.nl/

Rivendell Group of the Mythopoeic Society (Twin Cities smial): https://rivendellergroup.com/

Tolkien Society (based in England): http://www.tolkiensociety.org

Wade Center: http://www.wheaton.edu/wadecenter/


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