Tolkien Society Meetings 2011-2015

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Spring Semester, 2011

Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will vary.

JANUARY 9, 2011 – FANTASY FILMS

Discussion of recent fantasy movies, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One (opening November 19) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (opening December 10, 2010). Meeting held in Studio A, Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street.

FEBRUARY 13, 2011 – ARTHUR C. CLARKE

This meeting will be held in room 301 Wendt Commons Library, 215 N. Randall Avenue. Discussion of the science fiction of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, e.g., Childhood’s End, 2001: A Space Odyssey, et al.

MARCH 13, 2011– TOLKIEN’S ROCKING-HORSE GAIT

This meeting will be held in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street, Studio A. Kristin Thompson, who is writing a book on Tolkien’s narrative, will give a presentation on “The ‘Rocking-Horse Gait’ of Danger and Rescue in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.”

APRIL 17, 2011 – SARAH MONETTE AND J. V. JONES

The new Union South is having its grand opening this weekend but will not yet be available to student groups, so we will meet next door in Wendt Commons Library, room 301, 215 N. Randall Avenue. Discussion of the work of the author guests of honor at Odyssey Con. Sarah Monette is best-known for the Doctrine of Labyrinths series comprising Melusine (2005), The Virtu (2006), The Mirador (2007) and Corambis (2009), and for her collaborations with Elizabeth Bear, such as A Companion to Wolves (2007). Julie Victoria Jones is the author of several fantasy novels such as the Sword of Shadows series, including A Cavern of Black Ice (1999), A Fortress of Grey Ice (2003), A Sword from Red Ice (2007), and Watcher of the Dead (2010). Odyssey Con will be held in the Radisson Inn on the weekend of April 8-10; see the website at http://www.oddcon.com.

MAY 15, 2011 – NISI SHAWL AND ELIZABETH MOON

To be held in the Governance Room in the new Union South, second floor. Discussion of the work of Nisi Shawl, author guest of honor at WisCon, and Elizabeth Moon, who was to have been co-guest of honor. Shawl won the 2008 Tiptree Award for her story collection, Filter House. Moon is a prolific author, perhaps best known for her Paksenarrion series. WisCon will be held at the Concourse Hotel over Labor Day weekend, May 27-30; see the website at http://www.wiscon.edu.

MAY 21, 2011 EIGHT REASONS YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT C. S. LEWIS

Sponsored by the Madison C. S. Lewis Society. Prof. Wayne Martindale (Wheaton College) will talk on C. S. Lewis beginning at 10:00 a.m. at The Crossing, 1127 University Avenue (corner of University and Charter).

JUNE 15, 2011 – SHANOWER’S TROY

To be held in the new Union South. Check “Today in the Union” for the exact room. Discussion of Eric Shanower’s ongoing “Age of Bronze” comic books retelling the entire story of the siege of Troy. The first 26 issues have been collected in three graphic albums: A Thousand Ships (2001), Sacrifice (2004), and Betrayal, Part One (2007).

Summer Semester, 2011

JULY 10, 2011 – PRATCHETT’S TIFFANY ACHING

The North American Discworld Convention will be held from July 8-11 in the Concourse Hotel in Madison; see http://www.nadwcon.org. While our meeting will not be part of that convention, it seems an appropriate time to discuss Sir Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching subseries within the Discworld novels. The most recent of these is I Shall Wear Midnight (2010), a nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature (the winner will be announced at this year’s Mythcon in Albuquerque the following weekend, July 15-18; see http://www/mythsoc.org.) The three earlier Tifany Aching novels are The Wee Free Men (2003), A Hat Full of Sky, (2004), and Wintersmith (2006).

AUGUST 14, 2011 – SUMMER MOVIES

Discussion of recent fantasy movies, such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (opening in July), Thor, Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, X-Men: First Class, Captain America, the theatrical release of the extended editions of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, et al.

Fall Semester, 2011

SEPTEMBER 11, repeated SEPTEMBER 18 – TOLKIEN DOCUMENTARY

Discussion of JRRT: A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien, a 1992 BBC documentary narrated by Judi Dench, including footage of Tolkien and interviews with family members (Fr. John Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, and Priscilla Tolkien) and with scholars (Verlyn Flieger, Tom Shippey).

OCTOBER 16, 2011 – INKHEART

Discussion of Cornelia Funke’s novel Inkheart (2003) along with its film adaptation (2008) starring Brendan Fraser and Helen Mirren.

NOVEMBER 13, 2011 – PICTURING TOLKIEN

Discussion of Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy, edited by Janice M. Bogstad and Philip E. Kaveny (McFarland, 2011).

DECEMBER 11, 2011 – A GAME OF THRONES

Discussion of A Game of Thrones (1996) by George R. R. Martin and of the television miniseries (2011) based on this novel. This is the beginning of the Song of Ice and Fire series. One long novel should be enough to cover in one meeting, but for those who wish to read further the series continues with: A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005), and A Dance with Dragons (2011), with two more novels planned (working titles are The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring).

Spring Semester, 2012

FEBRUARY 12, postponed from January 8 – TINTIN

Discussion of Tintin (December, 2011), the movie from Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and of the graphic albums by Herge (pseudonym of Georges Remy) on which the film is based: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Other recommended Tintin albums include: The Blue Lotus, The Red Sea Sharks, The Castafiore Emerald, Destination Moon and its sequel Explorers on the Moon, The Seven Crystal Balls and its sequel Prisoners of the Sun (about the Incas), and Tintin in Tibet. These are all available in the Madison Public Library System.

FEBRUARY 16, 2012 (Thursday), repeated from last September– TOLKIEN DOCUMENTARY

Discussion of JRRT: A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien, a 1992 BBC documentary narrated by Judi Dench, including footage of Tolkien and interviews with family members (Fr. John Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, and Priscilla Tolkien) and with scholars (Verlyn Flieger, Tom Shippey). This special showing is for new members and for people who were unable to attend last semester.

MARCH 11, 2012 –TOLKIEN’S SOURCES

Discussion of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources, ed. Jason Fisher (2011) and of Mark T. Hooker’s collections of his short articles on words and terms in Tolkien’s writings, A Tolkienian Mathomium (2006) and The Hobbitonian Anthology (2009).

APRIL 15, 2012 – LARRY NIVEN AND STEVEN BARNES

Discussion of the work of the author guests of honor at Odyssey Con 12 (to be held April 20-21). Each has published quite a lot individually, but we thought we might focus on their collaborations, such as: Dream Park (1981), The Barsoom Project (1989), Achilles’ Choice (1991), The California Voodoo Game (1992), Saturn’s Race (2000), and The Moon Maze Game (2011). For information on Odyssey Con see http://odysseycon.org.

MAY 20, 2012 (notice this is the 3rd Sunday) – ANDREA HAIRSTON AND DEBBIE NOTKIN

Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at WisCon 36 (to be held May 25-28). Andrea Hairston is a dramataist and essayist who has also published two novels: Mindscape (2006) and Redwood and Wildfire (2011). Debbie Notkin is an editor and essayist . We will take up 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin (2010), which she edited. For information on WisCon see http://www.wiscon.info.

Summer Semester, 2012

JUNE 10, 2012 – A CLASH OF KINGS

We continue our discussion George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire by taking up the second novel in the series,A Clash of Kings (1998).

JULY 22, 2012 – DEFEAT VS. PRESERVATION IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Kristin Thompson will read a section from her work in progress on Tolkien’s narrative, focusing on the theme of defeat versus preservation in The Lord of the Rings.

AUGUST 12, 2012 – SUMMER MOVIES

Discussion of recent fantasy and science fiction movies, e.g, Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman, Total Recall, and any other relevant films that people wish to bring up.

Fall Semester, 2012

SEPTEMBER 23, 2012 –TOLKIEN’S HOBBIT

Discussion of The Hobbit (1938) on the 75th anniversary of its publication.

OCTOBER 21, 2012 – A WRINKLE IN TIME

Discussion of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962) on the 50th anniversary of its publication.

NOVEMBER 11, 2012 – ON STRANGER TIDES

Discussion of Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides (1988) and its movie adaptation (loose) as Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides (2011).

DECEMBER 9, 2012 – A STORM OF SWORDS

Discussion of the third book in George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, A Storm of Swords (2000). Also, there will be the traditional cake to fortify us for final exams.

Conferences in Madison this fall:

  • Geek Kon, September 7-9, Marriott West. See http://geekkon.org/
  • C. S. Lewis Conference, October 18-20, Pyle Center, UW-Madison. See http://www.cslewismadison.org/

Spring Semester, 2013

Meetings will be held on Sundays (usually but not always the second Sunday of the month) beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. 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

JANUARY 20, 2013 – R. A. LAFFERTY

Discussion of R. A. Lafferty’s science fiction short stories. Note: because this meeting is being held during semester break and Union South will close at 8:00 p.m, we will have the meeting from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

FEBRUARY 10, 2013 – HOBBIT MOVIE

Discussion of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) directed by Peter Jackson, the first in a planned trilogy of films suggested by Tolkien’s book.

MARCH 10, 2013 – KEVIN HEARNE

Discussion of the work of one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con 13, to be held the weekend of April 12-14 in the Radisson Inn, Madison, WI (see http://www.odyssey.con.org). Kevin Hearne is the author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, an urban fantasy series about Atticus O’Sullivan, a centuries-old (but young-appearing) druid now based in Tempe, Arizona. The five novels in the series to date are Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, (all 2011), Tricked (2012), and Trapped (2012).

APRIL 7, 2012 – ALEX BLEDSOE

Discussion of the work of another guest of honor at Odyssey Con 13, to be held the weekend of April 12-14 in the Radisson Inn, Madison, WI. See http://www.odysseycon.org. Alex Bledsoe is the author of Blood Groove (2009), The Girls with Games of Blood (2010), The Hum and the Shiver (2011), and is perhaps best-known for the Eddie LaCrosse series about a private investigator in a supernatural world who carries a sword instead of a firearm: The Sword-Edged Blonde (2009), Burn Me Deadly (2009), Dark Jenny (2011), and Wake of the Bloody Angel (2012).

MAY 19, 2013 – JOAN SLONCZEWSKI AND JO WALTON

Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at WisCon 13, to be held Memorial Day weekend, May 24-27 in the Concourse Hotel, Madison, WI. We will focus on their most recent novels, Joan Slonczewski’s The Highest Frontier (2011) and Jo Walton’s Hugo-winning Among Others (2012). For information on the conference, see http://www.wiscon.info.  

Future Events

  • February 21—Round table discussion of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at 4:30 p.m. in Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University, Milwaukee.
  • March 1-3—Hobbit Conference, Valparaiso University, Indiana. See http://conference.valpo.edu/tolkien.
  • July 12-15—44th annual Mythopoeic Conference, Michigan State University. See http://www.mythcon.org.

Summer Semester, 2013

JUNE 9, 2013 – DOCTOR WHO

For the 50th anniversary of this long-running series that began in 1963, we’ll have a general discussion of the television show, movies, novelizations, original novels, audio and comic book versions. Everyone has met the Doctor in some version, so we’ll pool our knowledge.

JULY 21, 2013 – THE HIGH AND THE PERILOUS IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Note: meeting will begin at 7:00. A chapter from Kristin Thompson’s work in progress on Tolkien’s narrative. This is a long chapter that we expect to take about two hours, which is why we are starting the meeting earlier than usual. Kristin would like feedback.

AUGUST 18, 2013– SUMMER MOVIES

Our annual discussion of the recent crop of science fiction and fantasy-related films. This time these will include Oz the Great and Powerful, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and whatever else has been released.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 – DIMINISHMENT VS. PRESERVATION IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Discussion of another chapter from Kristin Thompson’s forthcoming book. This one can be read in an hour or so. Kristin will appreciate our feedback.

Fall Semester, 2013

Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. 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

OCTOBER 13, 2013 – JACK VANCE

In memoriam Jack Vance (1916-2013). Discuss his fantasy works, particularly The Dying Earth, The Dragon Masters, The Last Castle.

NOVEMBER 10, 2013 – OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of C. Lewis (1898-1963) and the 75th anniversary of the publication of this novel, we will discuss Out of the Silent Planet (1938).

DECEMBER 1, 2013 – THE FALL OF ARTHUR

Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s latest posthumous work, The Fall of Arthur (2013), an unfinished narrative poem. The December meeting is also a party at which we have cake to fortify ourselves for final exams.

Spring Semester, 2014

Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST), except that the May 18th meeting will begin at 8:00 p.m. The location (except for the January meeting) will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. 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

JANUARY 12, 2014 – RECENT FILMS

Discuss recent fantasy and science fiction movies, e.g., Ender’s Game, Frozen, Gravity, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Thor: The Dark World et al (but we’ll save the Hobbit movie for our February meeting). NOTE: this meeting will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Board Room on the 3rd floor of Memorial Union on Langdon Street.

FEBRUARY 9, 2014 – DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Discussion of the second film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.

MARCH 9, 2014 – G. K. CHESTERTON

Discussion of the work of an author who was regarded as a mentor by Tolkien, C.. S. Lewis and others. Suggested: read one of his detective stories such as something from The Innocence of Father Brown or The Club of Queer Trades, one of his fantasies such as The Man Who Was Thursday, perhaps some of his poetry such as “Lepanto”. He was a prolific writer. Many of his works are out of copyright and available online, for example at http://www.online-literature.com/chesterton or http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Gilbert_K_Chesterton.

APRIL 13, 2014 – RICHARD LEE BYERS AND TROY DENNING

Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con, which this year will be held at Crowne Plaza on East Washington Street in Madison from April 4-6. Both have written novels for gaming company Wizards of the Coast. Byers is perhaps best-known for the Haunted Lands tetralogy: Unclean, Undead, Unholy, and Realms of the Dead (the last in collaboration with R. A. Salvatore). He is also known for the Brotherhood of the Griffon trilogy: The Captive Flame, Whisper of Venom, and The Spectral Blaze. Denning has written many Star Wars novels, including Tatooine Ghost and the Legacy of the Force trilogy: Tempest, Inferno and Invincible. The conference website is at http://www.odysseycon.org.

MAY 18, 2014 – HIROMI GOTO AND N. K. JEMISON

This meeting will begin at 8:00 p.m and run until around 10:00 p.m. Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at WisCon, the annual Wisconsin Science Fiction Conference, which will be held at the Concourse Hotel from May 23-26. This year WisCon will be held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA), with meetings at the Inn on the Park. The author guests of honor at SFRA will be Eleanor Arnason and Nisi Shawl. The conference website is at http://www.wiscon.info. Read something by one of these authors and we’ll share our impressions.

Summer Semester, 2014

JUNE 8, 2014 – TRIBUTE TO FREDERIK POHL

Science fiction Grand Master, author, editor, literary agent, and member of First Fandom Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) died late last year. Discussion will focus on his classic SF novel The Space Merchants (co-authored with C. M. Kornbluth) and his memoir The Way the Future Was. Some who knew him will also share memories of Fred.

JULY 20, 2014 – URSULA VERNON

Discussion of the work of the author guest of honor at this year’s annual conference (the 45th) of the Mythopoeic Society, to be held August 8-11 at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts (see the conference website at http://www.mythsoc.org). Her graphic novel Digger won both a Hugo and an Aslan award. Her illustrated Danny Dragonbreath series is also delightful.

AUGUST 17, 2014 – RECENT F&SF FILMS

Our annual discussion of the movies in the fantasy and science fiction genre that have been released this year. Possible titles include Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Divergent, Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, et al.

Fall Semester, 2014

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014 – TOLKIEN’S SUMMARY OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS

This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring (1954). In tribute, we will have a reading of Tolkien’s own summary of The Lord of the Rings, written for publisher Milton Waldman in 1950 but omitted from the letter to Waldman as published in Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1981). This long summary shows Tolkien’s thought on his story. Good points for discussion.

OCTOBER 12, 2014 – WHERE FANTASY FITS: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TOLKIEN

Richard West will reprise his Scholar Guest of Honor keynote address at this year’s annual conference (the 45th) of the Mythopoeic Society, held August 8-11 at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts (see the conference website at http://www.mythsoc.org).

NOVEMBER 9, 2014 – HOBBITS AS AUTHORS

Kristin Thompson will read another section from her book in progress on The Lord of the Rings, examining Tolkien’s fiction that the hobbits were the original authors, and how this works in the narrative. (Note: this meeting will begin at 7:00 rather than our usual 7:30 p.m.)

DECEMBER 7, 2014 – TOLKIEN AND BEOWULF

Tolkien’s translation of the Old English poem Beowulf was published earlier this year, along with some related materials such as some of his lecture notes, his adaptation “Lay of Beowulf,” and “Sellic Spell” (translation: “wonder tale”) which was Tolkien’s thought-experiment at recreating the lost folk tale that may have been the source for Beowulf. Since many people won’t be able to get this hardcover volume, we will read “Sellic Spell” for those who want to hear this story. We’ll also read a few select passages from Beowulf in Old English followed by Tolkien’s translation. And, as part of the entertainment, we will have cake catered by the Union.

JANUARY 25, 2015 – DESOLATION OF SMAUG: EXTENDED EDITION

Discussion of the extended edition of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, scheduled to be released on DVD on November 4th, 2014. [Jackson’s third Hobbit movie, The Battle of Five Armies, is scheduled for theatrical release on December 17th, 2014, but we will discuss that at our February meeting.]

Spring Semester, 2015

FEBRUARY 15, 2015 – BATTLE OF 5 ARMIES

Discussion of The Hobbit Part 3:The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). Now that we have the final movie in Peter Jackson’s trilogy (at least, until the extended edition comes out) we are in a better position to see what he and his collaborators have done.

MARCH 15, 2015 – E. NESBIT

Discussion of the work of a widely popular author from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, admired by both Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Not all of Edith Nesbit’s (1858-1924) books are fantasy, but many are. Recommended reading: Five Children and It.

APRIL 12, 2015 – TOLKIEN’S SOURCES

Discussion of the collection of essays that won last year’s Mythopoeic Scholarship Award: Tolkien and the Study of His Sources, edited by Jason Fisher.

MAY 10, 2015 – KIM STANLEY ROBINSON

Discussion of the work of one of the guests of honor at this year’s Wisconsin Science Fiction Conference (WisCon). Recommended reading: any of his Mars books, such as Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1994), or Blue Mars (1996). For information on the conference, to be held over Memorial Day weekend at the Concourse Hotel, see http://www.wiscon.info.

Summer Semester, 2015

JUNE 7, 2015 – PULLMAN, HIS DARK MATERIALS

Discussion: Inside the World of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. The novels in this series are The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.

JULY 12, 2015 – THE FANTASY OPERETTAS OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN

In the late 19th century, William S. Gilbert (writer) and Arthur O. Sullivan (composer) collaborated to produce many comic operettas that are still performed, including some that are works of fantasy: The Sorcerer (to which Isaac Asimov wrote a sequel, “The Up-to-Date Sorcerer”), Iolanthe, and Ruddigore (to which Anthony Boucher wrote a sequel, “Sriberdegibit”). We will play some selected songs and discuss the operettas and the short stories inspired by them.

AUGUST 9, 2015 – SUMMER MOVIES

Discussion of the most recent crop of fantasy and science fiction movies, such as: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina, Jurassic World, Pan, Terminator Genisys, Tomorrowland, any others released by this date.

Fall Semester, 2015

SEPTEMBER 13, 2015 – FRODO THE RELUCTANT HERO

Discussion of Tom Shippey’s lecture on “Frodo: The Reluctant Hero.”

OCTOBER 11, 2015 – INKLINGS: THE LEWIS/TOLKIEN CIRCLE

Discussion will focus on C. S. Lewis and His Circle edited by Roger White, Judith Wolfe, and Brendan N. Wolfe (Oxford University Press, 2015), which includes essays by some members of the literary discussion group called the “Inklings” (Owen Barfield, John Wain), as well as by some of Lewis’s relatives and friends, and also by scholars such as Alister McGrath, Tom Shippey, and Rowan Williams. We may also look at other recent books: The Fellowship (2015) by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski and The Oxford Inklings (2015) by Colin Duriez.

NOVEMBER 15, 2015 – THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO

Discussion of this 2007 novel by Junot Diaz, about someone who wishes to become the Dominican Tolkien.

DECEMBER 13, 2015 – JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL

Discussion of the BBC television series (2014) based on the novel (2004) by Susanna Clarke.

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