Tolkien Society meetings 1996-2000

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Spring, 1996:

January 21, 1996 – TOLKIEN: ARTIST AND ILLUSTRATOR

Basis for the discussion will be the recent book of the same title by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, and the essay by Richard Schindler on “The Expectant Landscape: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Illustrations for The Hobbit” published in the catalogue of the exhibit of Tolkien’s drawings at Marquette University in 1987.

February 18,1996 – WALT KELLY

A number of Kelly fans in our group will pool their various collections to enable us to discuss his work on Our Gang, The Brownies, Christmas With Mother Goose, Santa Claus Funnies, Peter Wheat, and other comics, including, of course, Pogo. Also consult the fanzine, Fort Mudge Most, and Norman Hale’s All Natural Pogo.

March 17, 1996 – LIFE AND TIMES OF UNCLE SCROOGE

Discussion of Don Rosa’s “Life and Times of Uncle Scrooge” published in Uncle Scrooge numbers 285 (April, 1994) through 296 (February, 1996) by Gladstone Comics (to be reprinted in a graphic album later this year).

April 21, 1996 – NARRATIVE STRUCTURE OF GROUNDHOG DAY

Kristin Thompson will give a paper on the narrative structure of the Bill Murray film, Groundhog Day.

May 12, 1996 – URSULA K. LE GUIN: ESSAYIST AND STORYTELLER

Ursula K. Le Guin will be one of the guests of honor at Wiscon 25 on Memorial Day weekend. Our discussion this time will focus on her essays in Dancing At the Edge of the World and stories in her recent collections, A Fisherman of the Inland Sea and Four Ways to Forgiveness.

Summer, 1996:


June 9, 1996 – OWEN BARFIELD: AN OVERVIEW

Guest speaker John Rateliff will give an overview of the work of Owen Barfield, the Inkling whom C. S. Lewis called the “best and wisest of my unofficial teachers,” focusing on Barfield’s fiction, including the unpublished novels, English People and Eager Spring, and This Ever Diverse Pair (the last title is available in libraries, and a chapter from it is reprinted in Owen Barfield on C. S. Lewis).

July 14, 1996 – TOLKIEN AND THE CRITICS

Guest speaker Dan Timmons from the University of Toronto will give a talk on “J. R. R. Tolkien: His ‘Monstrous’ Status and the Critics.”

August 18, 1996 – LIONS OF AL-RASSAD

Discussion of The Lions of al-Rassad (1995) by Guy Gavriel Kay.

       

Fall, 1996:

September 8, 1996 – TURIN’S OFERMOD

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the UW Tolkien Society in 1966. Richard West will give a paper on “Túrin’s Ofermod; Túrin Turambar as Tolkien’s Speculation on the the Limits of the Heroic Ethos: An Old English Theme in the Development of the Túrin Saga.”

October 20, 1996 – THE BOOK OF ATRIX WOLFE

Discussion of The Book of Atrix Wolfe (1995) by Patricia McKillip.

November 10, 1996 – PRINCE VALIANT

Discussion of Hal Foster’s long-running graphic narrative, Prince Valiant.

December 22, 1996 – UNICORN SONATA

Discussion of The Unicorn Sonata (1996) by Peter S. Beagle.

Spring, 1997:

January 26, 1997 – WAKING THE MOON

Discussion of Elizabeth Hand’s novel, Waking the Moon (1995), which last year won the Mythopoeic Society’s award for best fantasy novel. In addition, we shall listen to the first side of an audiocassette of J. R. R. Tolkien: The Man Who Invented Hobbits, a BBC Radio documentary produced by Humphrey Carpenter in the early 1970s.

February 16, 1997 – THE SILENT STRENGTH OF STONES

Deborah Daemmrich will lead a discussion of Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s fantasy novel, The Silent Strength of Stones (1995). And we shall listen to the last half of the BBC Radio documentary, J. R. R. Tolkien: The Man Who Invented Hobbits.

March 16, 1997 – FAIR PERIL

Discussion of Nancy Springer’s fantasy novel, Fair Peril (1996).

April 6, 1997 – THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE-EARTH

Discussion of the latest (and final) volume in the “History of Middle-earth” series, vol. 12, The Peoples of Middle-earth edited by Christopher Tolkien. This volume deals mostly with the Prologue and Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, and some later writings, notably the unfinished sequel, The New Shadow.

May 4, 1997 – FANTASY FILMS OF HONG KONG

This will be a private meeting at the home of member Kristin Thompson. Kristin’s husband, David Bordwell, will speak on his research into Hong Kong fantasy films, which mainly fall into the ghost sub-genre.

Summer, 1997:

June 15, 1997 – THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Discussion of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (1995), also known by its original British title, Northern Lights. This is the first volume in a new fantasy series set in an alternate Earth with witches and armored polar bears, in which people have daimons reflecting their inner souls (one’s daimon can take many shapes during one’s childhood but settles into one form with physical maturity).

July 20, 1997 – WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST

Discussion of Wicked (1996) by Gregory Maguire, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the misunderstood Witch.

August 17, 1997 – TALES FROM WATERSHIP DOWN

Discussion of Tales from Watership Down (1996) by Richard Adams, a new collection of short pieces set in the interstices of his novel, Watership Down (1972).

Fall, 1997:

September 7, 1997 – A FILM PORTRAIT OF TOLKIEN

A private showing of a British documentary, J. R. R. T.: A Film Portrait of Tolkien. This 110-minute video is narrated by Judi Dench and includes commentary from family members (John, Christopher, and Priscilla Tolkien), Baillie Tolkien, friends Fr. Robert Murray and Raynor Unwin, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, scholars Tom Shippey and Verlyn Flieger, and clips from earlier interviews with the author himself.

October 12, 1997 – GARTH NIX

Australian Garth Nix counts Tolkien and C. S. Lewis among writers he admires and would like to emulate, according to an interview in the April, 1997 issue of Locus. His Sabriel, which won the 1995 Aurealis Award for best fantasy novel, tells of the eponymous heroine striving to rescue her father, a sort of anti-necromancer, from the Land of the Dead. His other books are The Ragwitch (1994; Tor, 1995), in which an evil power absorbs a young girl, and her brother follows to another dimension to rescue her, told from their alternating points of view; and The Calusari (Harper Trophy, 1997), a novelization of an X-Files episode of the same title.

November 16, 1997 – EGYPTIAN TALES OF MAGIC

Kristin Thompson provided translations from hieroglyphs of ancient Egyptian tales of magicians (dating from the Middle Kingdom but set in the Old Kingdom) and of the gods Horus and Seth. Kristin will provide historical background and lead the discussion.

December 7, 1997 – LETTERS OF TOLKIEN

Members will recommend their favorites from that treasure trove, Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1981).

Spring, 1998:

January 18, 1998 – THE SUBTLE KNIFE

Discussion of the second novel in Philip Pullman’s fantasy series, His Dark Materials.

February 15, 1998 – BEAGLE’S SHORT FICTION

Discussion focusing on two recent collections of short fiction by Peter S. Beagle: Giant Bones (set in the world of his novel, The Innkeeper’s Song) and The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and Other Odd Acquaintances (a miscellany of essays and stories, some previously published and some new).

March 15, 1998 – THE NOTION CLUB PAPERS

Discussion of Tolkien’s unfinished novel (published in Sauron Defeated, vol. 9 in the History of Middle-earth series edited by Christopher Tolkien) that may have begun as a pastiche of the meetings of the Inklings but evolved into something much grander.

April 19, 1998 – SHERI TEPPER

Discussion of the oeuvre of Sheri Tepper, who will be guest of honor at WisCon in May.

May 17, 1998– OWEN BARFIELD AND POETIC DICTION

Barfield’s book, Poetic Diction (1928) had great influence on Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Summer 1998:

June 21, 1998 — ROVERANDOM

Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s children’s story, edited by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond.

July 12, 1998 — NEVERWHERE

Discussion of Neil Gaiman’s novel, Neverwhere.  This was originally a television serial in the U.K.  Neil Gaiman will be one of the guests at Mad Media Con 5 in Madison (September 25-27, 1998).

August 23, 1998 — THE PETER WEIR & TRUMAN SHOW

Discussion of The Truman Show.  Kristin Thompson will provide background on the career of director Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Witness, et al.)

Fall 1998:

Sunday, September 13, 1998: “Real World Myth in a Secondary World: Mythological Aspects in the Story of Beren and Lúthien”

This is a paper Richard West presented to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. A quick summary: J. R. R. Tolkien both studied and taught the stories of gods and heroes of world mythology, legend, and folklore, and naturally his own private mythos grew from this fertile soil. The story of Beren and Lúthien is one of the central ones of the legendarium of the Silmarils or Jewels of Power, and that the names of these star-crossed lovers are carved on the tombstone he shares with his wife suggests that this tale was one of the dearest to Tolkien’s heart. The several recensions of the story, though no single version was completed to the author’s satisfaction, all share a wide ranging over mythic motifs. At times the story recalls aspects of Volsunga saga or the Calydonian Boar Hunt, at others Robin Hood or Rapunzel, Orpheus or Ishtar. There are the common themes of the disapproving father, the rival lover, the quest, the bride-price, the magical animal ally, the tragic victory of death over love and the triumph of love over death. Yet the story is not a mere patchwork of mythological borrowings but a carefully wrought and self-consistent tale that is deeply moving and has great aesthetic power.

Sunday, October 11, 1998: Journey to the West, or the Monkey King

While many have read and studied the deservedly famous Chinese writings of Wu Ch’eng En regarding Sun the Enlightened One, also known as the Monkey King, few have examined the work under the aegis of fantasy. Is Journey to the West fantasy? What connects it with the modern genre? What is there in modern fantasy that is like this work?

Arthur Waley’s translation/abridgement of Journey to the West can be found in the Memorial Library and in College Library, call number PL2697 H75 E5 (or E59), or PZ3 W948. If you care to tackle the entire work (it’s long!), try Anthony C. Yu’s translation, available in Memorial Library, call number PL2697 H75 E596.

Websites of interest:

·         http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Towers/8153/ This is a wonderful set of book descriptions and Web links regarding the Monkey King legend. Start here!

·         http://www.chinapage.org/monkey.html

·         http://www.china-guide.com/monkey.htm

·         http://www.wsu.edu:8000/~dee/MING/LIT.HTM Contains a brief but helpful description of the outlines of the Monkey King story.

Sunday, November 22, 1998: Two by C.S. Lewis: Pilgrim’s Regress and Till We Have Faces

On the anniversary of the death of Clive Staples Lewis, we will be discussing two of his lesser-known works. One, Pilgrim’s Regress, is a reaction to the well-known allegory Pilgrim’s Progress. The other, Till We Have Faces, is a reworking of the Cupid/Psyche legend.

Pilgrim’s Regress is available in Memorial and College Libraries, call number BV4515 L37. Several copies of Till We Have Faces are available in both locations, call number PZ3 L58534.

Memorial Library has a couple of scholarly studies of these books: Reason and imagination in C.S. Lewis : a study of Till we have faces by Peter J. Schakel, call number PR6023 E926 T5437, and Finding the landlord : a guidebook to C.S. Lewis’s Pilgrim’s regress by Kathryn Lindskoog, call number PR6023 E926 P535.

Sunday, December 13, 1998: The Babylon 5 Wrap Party!

The five-year arc of Babylon 5 was a genuine novelty in science-fiction television. Now that the arc has finally reached its close, we will examine the plot twists, character development, and thematic complexity of Babylon 5. Several Tolkien Society regulars are huge B5 fans, so this should be a great discussion!

Spring 1999:

Sunday, January 24, 1999 — FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER

Discussion of the sword-and-sorcery series by Fritz Leiber recounting the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The first story, “Adept’s Gambit”, appeared in 1947. The first collection was Two Sought Adventure (Gnome Press, 1957). The whole series was collected by Ace Books:

1) Swords and Deviltry (1970)
2) Swords Against Death (1970)
3) Swords in the Mist (1968)
4) Swords Against Wizardry (1968)
5) The Swords of Lankhmar (1968)
6) Swords and Ice Magic (1977)
7) Knight and Knave of Swords (1988)

Gregg Press reprinted 1-6 in hardcover in 1977. White Wolf has recently reprinted 1-2 as Ill Met in Lankhmar (1995), 3- 4 as Lean Times in Lankhmar (1996), 5-6 as Return to Lankhmar (1997) and 7 as Farewell to Lankhmar (1998). We will focus in particular on the 2nd volume, Swords Against Death (included in Ill Met in Lankhmar). You might also want to read the title essay in Leiber’s Fafhrd and Me: A Collection of Essays (Wildside Press, 1990), and Bruce Byfield’s supplement to this called “Fafhrd and Fritz,” published in The New York Review of Science Fiction no. 104 (April, 1997), pp. 1, 8-14. Two studies, both called Fritz Leiber, by Jeff Frane (Starmont, 1980) and by Tom Staicar (Ungar, 1983), include sections on the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.

February 14, 1999 — TOLKIEN AND SIR GAWAIN

Tolkien co-edited (with E. V. Gordon) what is still the standard scholarly edition of the 14th-century Middle English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and throughout his life it remained one of his favorite medieval works. Richard West will read a paper by Roger Schlobin on “The Monsters Are Talismans and Transgressions: Tolkien and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight“. Dr. Schlobin (Purdue University, English Dept) originally presented this paper at the 1998 International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, and has given permission for it to be read to our group. [It is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming anthology of essays on Tolkien, date not set.]

March 14, 1999 — TURTLEDOVE AND ALTERNATIVE HISTORY

We will focus on Harry Turtledove’s novel, How Few Remain (1997), about a second War Between the States after the South won the first one. (This is available in paperback from Del Rey.)

April 11, 1999 — C. S. LEWIS: WAR EXPERIENCE AND CHOICE OF METAPHORS

Phil Kaveny will talk about his work-in-progress researching how C. S. Lewis was marked by his service during World War I, affecting his frequent choices of military metaphors in his writing.

May 10, 1999 — THE SPARROW

Mary Doria Russell will be author guest of honor at this year’s WisCon. We will prepare by discussing her novel, The Sparrow (1996).

Summer, 1999

June 20, 1999 — WRAPT IN CRYSTAL

Discussion of Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn (Ace, 1999). Reports on WisCon (May 28-31) from those who attended.

July 18, 1999 — THE END OF DEEP SPACE 9

Retrospective on the seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, concentrating on the concluding episodes.

In Madison (and probably in other places), the final, 2-hour show, “What You Leave Behind,” will be broadcast on channel 3 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 3. This will also be shown in two parts from 10:30-11:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5 and 12.

August 15, 1999 — FARMER GILES OF HAM

Houghton Mifflin has scheduled for publication in November a 50th anniversary edition of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), edited by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, which will include previously unpublished material from the earlier drafts. We probably won’t be able to read and discuss this before the spring semester, 2000. Meanwhile, in honor of the 50th anniversary and to prepare for the special edition, we will discuss the published version of this wonderful story.

Fall, 1999

September 19, 1999 — CRUSADE CONSIDERED

Discussion of the 13 episodes of Babylon 5: Crusadetelevised on TNT from June 9 through September 1.  It had been planned to have a full season of 22 episodes but TNT cancelled the series before anything had been broadcast.  Should this series be continued?  Episode guides can be found on the Babylon 5 website, http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/lurker.html

October 24, 1999 — THE LANGUAGE OF FANTASY

Dorothea Salo will reprise her talk from Bree Moot 4 / Mythcon 30 on the use of invented languages in fantasy fiction, with special attention to Tolkien, Lord Dunsany, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

November 21, 1999 — TOLKIEN, FAERIE, AND REALITY

Prof. Verlyn Flieger has given us permission to read her paper (not yet published) on “Fantasy and Reality: Tolkien’s World and the Fairy Stories Essay.”  See Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories,” which has been reprinted frequently but is perhaps most easily accessible in Tree and Leaf or The Tolkien Reader.

December 12, 1999 — STARDUST

Discussion of Stardust, written by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Charles Vess.  This won the Mythopoeic Society Award for best fantasy novel of 1998.

Spring Semester, Year 2000

January 23, 2000 — PRINCESS MONONOKE

Discussion of this Japanese animated film (English dialogue by Neil Gaiman).  For background, see Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation by Helen McCarthy (Stone Bridge Press, 1999) and The Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan’s Most Popular Film of All Time (Talk Miramax Books, 1999).  There are also numerous websites.

February 13, 2000 — FARMER GILES OF HAM

Discussion of the 50th anniversary edition by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, recently published by Houghton Mifflin. This includes the earliest extant text, what exists of an unfinished sequel, and much other fascinating material.

March 19, 2000 — H. G. WELLS AND THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

Discussion of Wells’s seminal 1898 novel of interplanetary war, its various radio and film adaptations (such as Howard Koch’s script performed by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre and by John De Lancie and what subsequently became Alien Voices), and its continuing influence.

April 9, 2000 — TAMSIN

Discussion of the recent (1999) fantasy novel by Peter S. Beagle.

May 14, 2000 — CHARLES DE LINT

Discussion of the work of this year’s guest of honor at WisCon (to be held on Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29).

Summer, Year 2000

JUNE 11, 2000– EDWARD D. HOCH — this meeting in GRAINGER HALL, room 1070

Discussion of the short stories of this prolific author.  There is a checklist of his work at http://www.hycyber.com/MYST/hoch_edward_d.html

JULY 9, 2000 — THE LION, THE WITCH, & THE WARDROBE

This year is the 50th anniversary of the first of the Chronicles of Narnia to be published. Discussion will focus on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and its various adaptations.

AUGUST 13, 2000 — CHICKEN RUN

Discussion of the new Nick Parks film, soon to be in general release.  For all us fans of Wallace & Grommit.

Fall, Year 2000

SEPTEMBER 10, 2000 — TOLKIEN’S LETTER TO WALDMAN    

Discussion of no. 131 in Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, in which Tolkien expounded on his artistic intentions to Milton Waldman of Collins Publishers.

OCTOBER 8, 2000 — EDWARD EAGER  

Discussion of the fantasy novels of Edward Eager, which have recently been reissued in a matched set.  These include HALF MAGIC (1954), KNIGHT’S CASTLE (1956), THE TIME GARDEN (1958), MAGIC OR NOT? (1959), THE WELL-WISHERS (1960), MAGIC BY THE LAKE (1962), and SEVEN-DAY MAGIC (1962).

NOVEMBER 5, 2000 — THE LATHE OF HEAVEN

Discussion of this 1971 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin and of the 1982 telefilm based on it (recently issued on videotape).

DECEMBER 10, 2000 — THE AMBER SPYGLASS               

Discussion of this final novel in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.  It is scheduled to be published on October 10.

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