August 2017

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I had to let the video upload on YouTube run overnight because of my current Internet situation but--at last!--the video of my presentation on Saturday at Mythmoot is finally ready. The full title (which is too long to fit in the title field) is "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community." The paper covers the history of Tolkien fan fiction, the development of online communities, and the use of Tolkien fan fiction as a means for writers to not only learn more about the texts but to become more analytical and critical readers. This is probably not news for anyone here, but keep in mind that I was presenting to a general (and not necessarily fanfic-friendly) audience at a fantasy studies conference.

The handout for the presentation can be found here. An audio-only version of the presentation can be found here.

Thoughts and reactions are most welcome, of course! :)
I received word today that I will be once again presenting at the Mythmoot III fantasy studies conference! Yippee! \0/ My paper is tentatively titled "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community," which should be more palatable to most people following me here than last year's cosmogony paper. I was inspired to take on this topic in part because they were looking for papers for a track entitled "Tolkien in the 21st Century" that considered how modern fans engaged with the text but also because the SWG's 10th begetting day will be a couple of months after Mythmoot on March 15, and it seemed a fitting tribute to the group that has been such a big part of my life for almost a decade now to actually allow my work with that group to overlap with my academic stuff.

I am excited. Also overwhelmed. I have so much going on right now and this is, of course, another thing that needs doing. (I am trying to pretend like I didn't see this call for papers ...) At least there won't be the nerves associated with the mystery of presenting for the first time last year. I'm looking forward to that part of it; I normally speak before much tougher crowds (high school students!), so an appreciative audience is a welcome change.

Okay, now's the part when I try to persuade those of you who are on the East Coast to come to Mythmoot! Here's the page on Mythgard's website. This event last year is one of the most fun weekends I've ever had. It is part academic conference and part fan gathering. I think they achieve a great balance there, where the discussions and presentations are high-quality without being intimidating or unwelcoming. The dates are January 10-11 in Baltimore. The cost is lower than it was last year. And you could hang out with little ol' me. :D
Yesterday was a very fun day: "Midmoot," or a gathering organized at the midway points between Mythmoots for local Tolkien fans affiliated with the Mythgard Institute. Bobby and I both went; participants pooled money to fly Professor Olsen down for a day-long seminar and dinner. (Professor Olsen is awesome: so down-to-earth and hilarious and brilliant.) It was in Alexandria, Virginia, which is not that far but manages to be that far: almost three hours from Manchester by the time all was said and done! Yikes. Just over an hour in the car and the rest of the time on the Metro. (Although, as Bobby put it, we did cross a state and all of DC in one of the busiest parts of the country.)

But it was worth the trip: The seminar was a series of informal talks and discussions but touched on several intriguing topics related to Tolkien and speculative fiction more generally. I thought about signing up to present something but sat on my hands, being overwhelmed generally at this point with academic stuff. Best of all, I got to hang out again with MithLuin, whom I've known online for many years and knew lived in Maryland and somehow managed to never meet in person till last Mythmoot when I complimented a woman on her Curufin costume and the rest is history. (I should have known. I mean Curufin? Really?? She had to be one of my own kind.) We had a great supper at the Bilbo Baggin's restaurant in Alexandria, in which Bobby, MithLuin, and I managed to talk about pretty much everything but Middle-earth (although we did talk about Tolkien's Beowulf a bit and MithLuin humored me by letting me yammer about my thesis a bit).

6:30 came too soon! The party went on for a while after that, but Bobby and I had that almost three-hour trip to make again, plus animals waiting at home to go out and pee, plus work the next day with planning still undone (for me). It sucked, though, having to leave; we've decided we are definitely staying on-site for Mythmoot this year because, however nice it is to live in the hinterlands most of the time, it isn't cool when you're having fun with friends and have to leave early. We had to leave Pub Trivia early this year at Mythmoot in an attempt to beat a snowstorm home (and we barely made it).

The drive home (or the "home drive" as I just typed it) was less painful until we reached Westminster and drove into a storm. So the poor Goldens had to hold their pee even longer because, when the rain subsided enough for me to let them out, they pretty much did a U-turn on the patio and gave me ugly looks like I was crazy for sending them out in the first place.

Speaking of Goldens ... today is Phil's birthday. He is seven. They're aging too fast ... So, for the next two months, until Alex turns eight, they will not be the Goldens but the Sevens.*

*They are Goldens and not dogs in the first place because, in the wilds of my imagination where most of the beings and objects of importance in my life are not only personified but characterized, then the Goldens take great umbrage at being known as dogs, a species they regularly rail against (sometimes including threats involving antifreeze).

I just downloaded a bunch of pictures of the Sevens off of our camera, but Photobucket is being a witch-with-a-capital-B and took just about forever to upload just two pictures of Phil. So those two pictures will have to suffice for now. They are really cute pictures, though.

The Little One on His Birthday! )
The full title (which DW will not let me post in its entirety) is "At the Root of the Tree of Tales:
Using Comparative Myth and 'On Fairy-Stories' to Analyze Tolkien's Cosmogony." This is a video of me reading--very exciting!--my paper at Mythmoot today. I hope the paper is more interesting than 17 minutes of watching me read, part of the time obscured by my computer before Bobby realized and moved the camera. ;)

Anyway, the YouTube summary, which I will reuse because I am too tired to make new, is:

This paper, presented at the Mythmoot II conference in Baltimore on 15 December 2013, looks at J.R.R. Tolkien's creation story, the "Ainulindale," in comparison to other world creation myths. The paper touches on similarities between Tolkien's story and other myths and the reasons for those connections but emphasizes how the differences--particularly the use of subcreation and creation through music--emphasize themes of integral importance to Tolkien's fictional world and life as an author.

If you'd rather listen to the paper as a podfic, the audio file is on the SWG here. If anyone wants a copy of the paper, email me at; it will eventually be published in the conference proceedings (which I believe are going to be publicly available and which I will naturally link to when they are).
So before I go into any great detail, all I'm going to say about the past two days is that I had such an excellent time.

Because nothing can be merely accomplished without some drama involved, then the weather decided to throw a wrench at our cogs. Bobby was tracking throughout the week a winter storm set to hit on Saturday, the first day of the conference. He broke the news to me about mid-week, as the possibility began to really take shape. We decided to get a hotel room for Saturday night, just in case. By Friday night, Carroll County was under a winter storm warning with as much as an additional 10 inches (25 cm) expected, beginning mid-morning on Saturday. Thankfully, temperatures ended up being much warmer than anticipated, and while we got a couple more inches here in north Carroll, it was not enough to prevent our going home between days. (Which was our preference since we just laid out a lot of money to travel to England for the holidays.) And my very first conference was saved.

It started early Saturday morning. Read more... )
Well, it's official! My paper proposal for Mythmoot II has been accepted! *subdued and slightly terrified squeeeee* This will be my first conference presentation. However, since it specifically encourages fans, students, and first-time presenters, then I think it's as good a time as any to take this particular plunge. This means I need to double-down on preparing for it, though; I've been negligent here, in part because I think I didn't want to get my hopes up and ... :^|

The conference is in Baltimore, and I'm hoping that maybe I see some fellow Silmgeeks there ...? :D

In other good news, it is Friday, and I have survived the first two weeks of school in one piece. The beginning of the year is always the hardest part. It's lots of single-class lessons, which means more planning. Next week, I will be settling in to reading some texts with my classes that should take more than a class period to get through.

In other good news, Bobby is making another attempt at The Silmarillion and seems to be enjoying it more this time than the other two (??) times he's tried it. He has been taking Mythgard courses with me, so I think he likes being able to connect it in to the larger history and mythology ... exactly the opposite of how I did things, which was to read the Silm and then become interested in the history and mythology. He's at present pondering something that I'm nudging him to write up and post to the SWG. I'm shameless. I've been trying to get him into the Silm for years.

Okay, to close out, I have some cute pictures. Well, one is probably only cute to me, but the other is most likely cute to anyone warm-blooded.

Cute Pictures )

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