Tolkien Society Meetings 2006-2010

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Spring Semester 2006

JANUARY 8, 2006 – THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

Discussion of the movie released in December, 2005.

FEBRUARY 12, 2006 – THE LORD OF THE RINGS AND THE FILM INDUSTRY

Kristin Thompson will talk on the influence of the Peter Jackson movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings on the international film industry, part of her forthcoming book on Frodo, Fantasy, and Franchises: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood (University of California Press).

MARCH 12, 2006 – JANE LINDSKOLD

Read one of her novels and come share your impressions, prior to her being one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con VI.

Firekeeper series: Through Wolf’s Eyes (2001), Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart (2002), The Dragon of Despair (2003), Wolf Captured (2004), with Wolf Hunting due out in April, 2006

  • Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994)
  • Marks of our Brothers (1995)
  • The Pipes of Orpheus (1995)
  • When the Gods Are Silent (1997)
  • Donnerjack (1997) (in collaboration with Roger Zelazny)
  • Changer (1998)
  • Legends Walking (1999)
  • Lord Demon (1999) (in collaboration with Roger Zelazny)
  • The Buried Pyramid (2004)
  • Child of a Rainless Year (2005)


APRIL 9, 2006 – ANANSI BOYS

Discussion of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys (2005).

MAY 14, 2006 – KATE WILHELM

Wilhelm will be one of the guests of honor at WisCon. Read one of her science fiction or mystery novels, or some of her many short stories. She won a Hugo for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1977) (about cloning).

Summer Semester, 2006

JUNE 4, 2006 – JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL

Discussion of Susanna Clarke’s novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2005) (about two English magicians in the time of Napoleon).

JULY 16, 2006 – JOHN HOWE

We will show a documentary on John Howe: Lord of the Brush (2005), and discuss his work and that of other illustrators of Tolkien. The documentary was written by Werner Aellen and directed by Gretchen Jordan-Bastow; it is available on DVD.


AUGUST 13, 2006 –SUMMER MOVIES

Have you seen Superman Returns? X-Men 3: The Last Stand? Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest? Over the Hedge? Others? Come discuss the fantasy and science-fiction films of summer, 2006.

Fall Semester, 2006

SEPTEMBER 17, 2006—40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

The Tolkien Society at the University of Wisconsin had its first meeting in September, 1966 and has been going strong ever since. We’ll share memories and memorabilia from our forty years. We’ll have chocolate cake with butter cream frosting! Come help us celebrate!

OCTOBER 1, 2006 – BEOWULF AND TOLKIEN

In August the University of Wisconsin Press published Beowulf: The Complete Story: A Drama, with Richard Ringler (Emeritus Professor of the UW Departments of English and Scandinavian Studies) narrating his translation, and actors from American Players Theatre and Wisconsin Public Radio performing various roles. This is a set of three CDs, too long to play at one meeting; we will listen to the Grendel section. For background, read Tolkien’s seminal essay, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, which is widely available in collections of Beowulf criticism and in Christopher Tolkien’s edition of his father’s scholarly work, The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (1983). Michael D. C. Drout’s Beowulf and the Critics (2002) is an edition and study of Tolkien’s drafts of his essay.  Many critics have written about the influence of Beowulf on Tolkien’s fiction, notably Bonniejean Christensen and T. A. Shippey.

NOVEMBER 12, 2006 – TURTLEDOVE’S CIVIL WAR

Discussion of Harry Turtledove’s Sentry Peak (2000), Marching Through Peachtree (2001) and Advance and Retreat (2002), set in a fantasy world based on the American Civil War (the northern provinces in the kingdom of Detina secede rather than free their blond serfs).

DECEMBER 10, 2006 – THE DRESDEN FILES

Richard West will introduce and lead a discussion of Jim Butcher’s ongoing series about hard-boiled private eye and wizard, Harry Dresden: Storm Front (2000), Fool Moon (2001), Grave Peril (2001), Summer Knight (2002), Death Masks (2003), Blood Rites (2004), Dead Beat (2005), and Proven Guilty (2006). Butcher cites Tolkien and C. S. Lewis as two major influences. See the author’s website at http://www.jim-butcher.com.

Spring Semester, 2007

JANUARY 14, 2007—RECENT FANTASY FILMS

Discussion of recent movies with a science-fictional or fantasy element, such as Charlotte’s Web, Children of Men, Eragon, Happy Feet, The Prestige, The Librarian II: Return to King Solomon’s Mines.


FEBRUARY 4, 2007 – LORD OF THE RINGS: A READER’S COMPANION

Discussion of the study by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), which recently won the Mythopoeic Society award for best work of scholarship published in 2005. Do not confuse this with J. R. R. Tolkien: Companion and Guide by the same authors, which was also published by Houghton Mifflin late in 2006, as that is a more general study (and a topic for another meeting). The earlier book we’ll be discussing focuses on The Lord of the Rings, and annotates it extensively.

MARCH 11, 2007 – JACK McDEVITT

Discussion of the science fiction of Jack McDevitt, who will be one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con (April 13-15 in Madison). Read one of the novels by this prolific author and come prepared to share your impressions.


APRIL 15, 2007 — SAKI

Discussion of the fantasy stories of Saki (pseudonym of H. H. Munro, 1870-1916). Examples include “Sredni Vashtar” and “Tobermory”.


MAY 6, 2007 – KELLY LINK

Discussion of Magic for Beginners (2005) by Kelly Link, who will be one of the guests of honor at WisCon (Memorial Day weekend in Madison).


JUNE 10, 2007 – SNERGS

Discussion of The Marvellous Land of Snergs (1928, but reprinted a number of times, most recently by Dover), by E. A. Wyke-Smith. This was a favorite book of Tolkien’s children and influenced The Hobbit.

Summer Semester, 2007

JULY 22, 2007—PETER S. BEAGLE

Discussion of Peter Beagle’s most recent collection, The Line Between (2006), which contains eleven stories, including Two Hearts (a sequel to The Last Unicorn which won the Nebula for best novelette of 2006) and Quarry (a prequel to The Innkeeper’s Song).  

AUGUST 19, 2007 – SUMMER FANTASY FILMS

Possibilities include Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End, Ratatouille, Shrek 3, and Spider-Man 3, and perhaps others. Everybody see one or two and come prepared to share impressions.  

Fall Semester, 2007

SEPTEMBER 16, 2007 – CHILDREN OF HÚRIN

Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s latest posthumous (2007) novel, put together by Christopher Tolkien from the extant versions (see especially Unfinished Tales, Lays of Beleriand, and The Silmarillion) into one continuous narrative. This is not yet available in paperback but numerous book clubs have selected it. There is also an audio version forthcoming, read by Christopher Lee.

OCTOBER 14, 2007—THE LOST WORLD

Discussion of The Lost World (1912) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) and its long and lasting legacy in popular culture, from Edgar Wallace’s King Kong to James Gurney’s Dinotopia. There have been numerous movie adaptations, with the role of Prof. Challenger being played by such acting luminaries as Wallace Beery (1925), Claude Rains (1960), Bob Hoskins (1991), and John Rhys-Davies (1992). A television series loosely based on the novel lasted for three seasons and 66 episodes from 1999-2002. Leonard Nimoy directed an audio version in 1997 for Simon and Schuster’s Alien Voices series of audiocassettes. Greg Bear wrote a sequel, Dinosaur Summer (1998). Oskar Lebeck and Gaylord DuBois borrowed heavily from the novel for The Hurricane Kids on the Lost Islands (1941), and Doyle’s work was also the basis for the long-running Turok Son of Stone comic book (mostly written by DuBois and Paul S. Newman). There are many other examples, so come with some of your own.

NOVEMBER 18, 2007– WILLIAM MORRIS

British author William Morris (1834-1896) was notable for a great many things (political and social commentary, crafts such as the Morris chair, printing his own illuminated books, etc.). He was very influential on the Inklings, especially for his interest in the Middle Ages: e.g., his Kelmscott Press editions of Beowulf and Chaucer, his translations from Old Norse such as Volsunga Saga, poems such as “The Defence of Guenevere,” and the romances he wrote late in his career, of which House of the Wolfings (1888) and Roots of the Mountains (1893) are particularly important for Tolkienists. C. S. Lewis specially admired Wood Beyond the World (1895), Well at the World’s End (1896), and Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897). Many works by Morris were reprinted in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, and by publishers of classic fantasy such as Newcastle and Borgo Press. Some are available online via Project Gutenberg or NetLibrary.

DECEMBER 9, 2007– THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT

Discussion of The History of The Hobbit (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), a two-volume edition and study by John Rateliff of the early manuscripts and development of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Spring Semester, 2008

JANUARY 13, 2008– THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Discussion of the movie version (New Line, December, 2007) of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

FEBRUARY 10, 2008—BOTANY & OTHER SCIENCES OF MIDDLE-EARTH

Discussion of Dinah Hazell, The Plants of Middle-earth: Botany and Sub-creation (2006) and Henry Gee, The Science of Middle-earth (2004).

MARCH 16, 2008– MARTIN AND BAKER

George R. R. Martin and Kage Baker will be the author guests of honor at Odyssey Con (to be held at the Radisson Inn in Madison from April 4-6). Perhaps read one of the very long novels in Martin’s very long series he calls the Song of Ice and Fire, beginning with A Game of Thrones (1996), or, for a shorter entry in that series, his novella “The Hedge Knight” published in the anthology Legends (1998) edited by Robert Silverberg. Martin also has many other novels and short story collections. Baker is the author of the Company series, beginning with In the Garden of Iden (1997). Many of her short stories are collected in Black Projects, White Knights (2002).

APRIL 20, 2008 – TIME TRAVEL

Discussion of The Time Machine (1895) by H. G. Wells (1866-1946) and the subgenre of science fiction it pretty much started.

MAY 18, 2008 – DUCHAMP AND McHUGH

L. Timmel Duchamp and Maureen F. McHugh will be the author guests of honor at WisCon (to be held at the Concourse Hotel in Madison over the Memorial Day weekend). Read something by each, e.g., Duchamp’s Renegade (2006) or McHugh’s Nekropolis (2001).

JUNE 8, 2008 – MAKING OF TOLKIEN’S MYTHOLOGY

Discussion of Verlyn Flieger, Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien’s Mythology (Kent State University Press, 2005).

Summer Semester, 2008

JULY 13, 2008 – H. P. LOVECRAFT

Discussion of the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) in our ongoing series on “Older Authors.” Focus on At the Mountains of Madness and “Rats in the Walls.”

AUGUST 10, 2008 — RECENT FANTASY FILMS

Discussion of movies released recently that have a fantasy content. Each summer brings a goodly crop, and usually everyone has seen at least one or two of them. Possibilities include:

  • Iron Man (May 2 opening)
  • Prince Caspian (May 16 opening)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22 opening)
  • Kung Fu Panda (animated) (June 6 opening)
  • The Incredible Hulk (June 13 opening)
  • Wall-E (animated) (June 27 opening)
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (3-D) (July 11 opening)
  • Batman: The Dark Knight (July 18 opening)
  • Space Chimps (animated) (July 18 opening)
  • X-Files 2 (July 25 opening)
  • The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Aug. 1 opening)

Fall Semester, 2008

SEPTEMBER 14, 2008 – CELTIC AND NORSE IN TOLKIEN

Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s use of Celtic and Norse elements in his fiction. Focus on the critical study by Marjorie Burns, Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth(2005).

OCTOBER 12, 2008 – PHILIP PULLMAN

We will show selections from one or more DVD documentaries on fantasy author Phillip Pullman. Discussion of Once Upon a Time in the North (2008), his prequel to the “His Dark Materials” trilogy.

NOVEMBER 9, 2008 – TALES BEFORE NARNIA

Discussion of an anthology of stories relating to C. S. Lewis, Tales Before Narnia (2008), edited by Douglas A. Anderson.

DECEMBER 14, 2008 – MELIES [Postponed to January 4, 2009 due to icy weather]

We will show selections from a DVD of movies by pioneering French filmmaker Georges Melies (1861-1938). You may wish to read Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), an illustrated novel in which Melies is a major character.

Spring Semester, 2009

FEBRUARY 8, 2009 – WATCHMEN

Discussion of the graphic novel, Watchmen (1987) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

MARCH 8, 2009 – EMMA BULL AND TOBIAS BUCKELL

Discussion of the two author guests of honor at Odyssey Con (to be held April 24-26 in Madison). Emma Bull’s novels include War for the Oaks (1987), Falcon (1989), Bone Dance (1991) and Territory (2007). She is also one of the creators of the shared fantasy world of Liavek. Tobias Buckell’s novels include Crystal Rain (2006), Ragamuffin (2007), and Sly Mongoose (2008).

APRIL 19, 2009 – TOLKIEN AND HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS

Discussion of the languages Tolkien loved and studied (Old and Middle English, Old Norse, Gothic, Welsh, Finnish) and their relation to his work.

MAY 17, 2009 – ELLEN KLAGES AND GEOFF RYMAN

This meeting will be held in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street. Discussion of the author guests of honor at WisCon (to be held May 22-25 in Madison). Ellen Klages’ novels include The Green Glass Sea (2006) and White Sands, Red Menace (2008). Geoff Ryman’s novels include Was (1992), Air (2003), Lust or No Harm Done (2003), and The King’s Last Song (2008).

Summer Semester, 2009

JUNE 28, 2009 – EDGAR ALLAN POE

The second centenary of Edgar Allan Poe (January 18, 1809-October 7, 1849) provides a good opportunity to discuss his work. Poe’s stories and poems are widely available in many editions, and naturally there have been a number of hommages published this year (e.g., In the Shadow of the Master, ed. Michael Connolly, which reprints several of Poe’s classic stories with commentaries by modern authors).

JULY 12, 2009 – LE GUIN’S LAVINIA AND VERGIL’S AENEID

Discussion of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel Lavinia (2008) and its source, Vergil’s Aeneid (available in numerous translations).

AUGUST 9, 2009 – SUMMER MOVIES

Many summer movies are science fiction or fantasy, we all see one or more of them, and it has become a tradition to devote one meeting to discussing them. Possibilites this time include the new beginning of Star Trek directed by J. J. Abrams, Wolverine, Transformers 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, perhaps some films released earlier this year such as Inkheart, and probably others that people will bring up.

Fall Semester, 2009

 SEPTEMBER 13, 2009 – TOLKIEN’S CHILDREN OF HURIN

To help our discussion of this posthumously published (2007) romance, Richard West will read his paper on “Lack of Counsel Not of Courage: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Critique of the Heroic Ethos in The Children of Hurin“. This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue.

OCTOBER 11, 2009 – SIGURD AND GUDRUN

Tolkien’s Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (2009) contains poems of power and passion (as Paul Thomas aptly describes them) written in modern English but using a traditional Old Norse verse form. They are best appreciated when read aloud, so we shall do that, taking turns to read (as medieval Icelanders did reading sagas on long winter nights), interspersing commentary and answering questions as we go along. Thus it will not be necessary that everyone have read this recent publication (only available in hardcover) before coming. However, there are 2 copies in the Madison campus libraries, 3 others elsewhere in the UW System libraries, and 11 more in the Madison Public Library system, so one has a good chance of borrowing the book. It would be helpful (though not essential) to have a general idea of the story of Sigurd (aka Siegfried) the dragon-slayer and the treasure of the Volsungs (or Nibelungs). This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue.

NOVEMBER 15, 2009 – CEMETERY FANTASY

Discussion of the use of ghosts and the graveyard setting in Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place (1960), Terry Pratchett’s Johnny and the Dead (1993), and Neil Gaiman’s Newbery-award winner The Graveyard Book (2008). This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue.

DECEMBER 13, 2009 – TOLKIEN ON FAIRY STORIES

Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories” is available in many places, such as Tree and Leaf (Houghton Mifflin, 1965) and The Tolkien Reader (Ballantine, 1966). Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson have edited Tolkien’s longer and variant texts (Harper Collins, 2008) and we shall discuss what this adds to our understanding of this classic essay. This new edition has only a British hardcover publisher so far. It is available via amazon.co.uk or bookdepository.co.uk (the latter offers free postage including to the U.S.). If you can’t find or can’t afford a copy of the new book, read or re-read the essay in one of its earlier appearances. This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue. It is traditional to have cake at our December meeting to celebrate the end of the semester and fortify us for final exams.

Spring Semester, 2010

Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). Unless otherwise indicated, meetings will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Union South has been closed for rebuilding (expected to open in 2011).

JANUARY 3, 2010 – SF ON TV

This meeting held in the Humanities Building. Discussion of favorite current television series that have a fantasy or science fiction component. We also showed the first half hour of the adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

FEBRUARY 7, 2010 – BAGME BLOMA: TOLKIEN’S GOTHIC POEM

Luke Annear will present a paper on “Star Spangled Grammar in Tolkien’s ‘Bagme Bloma’ ” a poem written in Gothic by Tolkien for Songs for the Philologists (privately published in 1937).

MARCH 14, 2010 – FILM ADAPTATION OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Kristin Thompson will present a paper on “Gollum Talks to Himself: Problems and Solutions in the Film Adaptation ofThe Lord of the Rings” on how Tolkien’s text was adapted for the movie version by Peter Jackson and his collaborators.

APRIL 11, 2010 – WisCon AUTHORS

Discussion of the works of the author guests of honor at Wiscon 34 in May. Mary Anne Mohanraj’s books, which make use of her Sri Lankan heritage, include Silence and the Word (2004; short stories), Bodies in Motion (2005; short stories), and The Poet’s Journey (illustrated by Kat Beyer). Nnedi Okorafor’s books make use of her Nigerian heritage and include Zahrah the Windseeker (2005; nominated for a number of awards including the Locus Award for Best First Novel) and The Shadow Speaker (2007; set in Niger in 2070).

MAY 9, 2010 – HARRY POTTER

A number of our members have participated on panels on J. K. Rowling’s books at various conventions, but we have not heretofore discussed her work at our own group’s meetings. We shall repair that lack with a discussion of the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), re-titled Sorcerer’s Stone for the U.S. edition (1998), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998 in the UK, 1999 in the U.S.), HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999 in both the UK and U.S., and publication was simultaneous hereafter), HP and the Goblet of Fire (2000), HP and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), HP and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007).

Summer Semester, 2010 

JUNE 20, 2010 – EUROPEAN COMICS

David Bordwell will talk on the European clear-line style of comic art.

JULY 11, 2010 – WILLIAM TENN

Discussion of the satiric science fiction of William Tenn (pseudonym of Philip Klass). He wrote mostly short stories, collected in a number of books such as Of All Possible Worlds (1955), The Human Angle (1956), The Wooden Star (1968), and The Square Root of Man (1968). His one novel is Of Men and Monsters (1968). NESFA Press published The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn in two volumes in 2001 (v. 1: Immodest Proposals; v. 2: Here Comes Civilization), with afterwords by the author.

AUGUST 8, 2010 – SUMMER MOVIES

Discussion of recent films that have a fantasy or science fiction or medieval aspect, such as Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Robin Hood, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and others.

Fall Semester, 2010

Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The September through December meetings will be held in room 301 Wendt Commons Library, 215 N. Randall Ave. The January meeting will be held in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street; check “Today in the Union” for the exact room, either on the board or their website, http://www.union.wisc.edu.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 – TOLKIEN COMPANION

This meeting will be held in room 301 Wendt Library, 215 N. Randall Avenue. Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien Companion & Guide by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006).

OCTOBER 17, 2010 – THREE ON TOLKIEN

Discussion of recent scholarship on Tolkien. Everybody try to read at least one of the following three books and share impressions:

  • Diana Pavlac Glyer, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2007), winner of the 2008 Mythopoeic Society Award for Scholarship;
  • Douglas Charles Kane, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion (2009);
  • Steven Walker, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose: Middle-earth’s Magical Style (2009)

NOVEMBER 14, 2010 – THE SECRET HISTORY OF FANTASY

Discussion of the recent collection The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon, 2010). This is available in paperback, and there are three copies in the Madison public library system.

DECEMBER 19, 2010 – THE MARVELLOUS LAND OF SNERGS

Re-scheduled from December 12 because a bad winter storm forced us to cancel that day. Discussion of E. A. Wyke-Smith, The Marvellous Land of Snergs (1927). This book was a favorite of Tolkien’s children and an influence on his writing The Hobbit. It is available in a paperback reprint. The December meeting is also a party at which we have cake.

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