Tolkien the unappreciated.

Reading the Washington Post today, I came across this interesting tidbit:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020903117.html?nav=most_emailed&sid=ST2011020903874

The article is about Tolkien scholar Corey Olsen, a professor at Washington College. It is a good piece overall and very interesting. But (there had to be one) I wonder about something. The article makes it seem like very few medievalists take Tolkien studies seriously. Now, granted, those of us on the history side may wonder about the utility of studying a twentieth century author under the “medieval” guise, but, hey, to each their own. Medievalisms looks to be a growing, vibrant field right now, and chock full of potential material. It seems like a good fit. How many of us were fans of epic fantasy before we fell in love with the Middle Ages? I know I was. Besides, any author so influenced by medieval literature deserves a second look. But I digress. As I said above, the article makes it seem like studying Tolkien is academia’s cardinal sin. Apparently, no one ever pointed out to the author the number of Tolkien sessions a Kalamazoo every year, sponsored by the Tolkien at Kalamzoo organization, no less. Six last year. I noticed that last year Dr. Olsen participated in two roundtables devoted to Tolkien as well as a reader’s theater session on Malory. He is not in this year’s program, but maybe he will come anyway to sample the six or seven Tolkien sessions. Troubling, though, that bit about Tolkien being unpopular. At least it won’t seem that way in May in Kalamazoo. Now, Harry Potter on the other hand…;-)

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One Response to “Tolkien the unappreciated.”

  1. James L. Smith Says:

    Good point! Although Tolkien seems to bridge the gap between the more theory-based medievalisms and the mainstream of studying the Middle Ages, since he was both a scholar and a creator of popular culture medievalisms.

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