Session1033
TitleBorders between Life and Death in Tolkien's Legendarium
Date/TimeWednesday 6 July 2022: 09.00-10.30
 
SponsorCentre for Fantasy & the Fantastic, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow
 
OrganiserAndrew Higgins, Centre for Fantasy & the Fantastic, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow
 
Moderator/ChairSara Brown, Department of Language & Literature, Signum University, New Hampshire
 
Paper 1033-a Memories of Borders: On the Borders of Memory - Beleriand as Elegiac Landscape
(Language: English)
Cami Agan, Independent Scholar, Edmond, Oklahoma
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1033-b Beyond the Circles of the World
(Language: English)
Amy Amendt-Raduege, Department of English, Western Washington University
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1033-c Undead or Undying: Limits of Immortality in Tolkien's Work
(Language: English)
Gaëlle Abaléa, Independent Scholar, Orléans
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Other; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
 
AbstractPapers in this session related to the thematic strand of the conference papers will explore themes around metaphysical borders and liminal spaces between life and death in Tolkien's works and their influences.

Paper -a: The IMC theme of borders coincides with an ongoing concern of my work: the ways in which Beleriand, both as actual landscape and as a lost memory, functions as the elegiac repository for Tolkien's legendarium. For the 'Crossing Borders in Middle-Earth' panel at Leeds, I seek to examine the ways vital narratives - the Great Tales and others - repeatedly establish and traverse borders/boundaries in Beleriand, particularly in the wake of the Noldor's arrival. Simultaneously, the narratives also register a sense of loss as Morgoth ultimately renders the borders porous and indefensible. Lastly, the very notion of 'Beleriand' - a landscape that disappears from the inhabitable lands of Arda during the War of Wrath - haunts the borders of memory, personal, cultural, and poetic, and thus remains ever textually present (and elegized) in maps, names, and tales.

Paper -b: From its beginning, Tolkien's legendarium concerns itself with crossing borders. Even the border between life and death is permeable, as characters pass from life to death and back again. Moreover, the earliest stories contain full descriptions of the Land of the Dead for both Elves and Men. But after the earliest drafts, Tolkien moves the afterlife of Men beyond the Circles of the World, and despite medieval precedent and his own imaginative capabilities, he never crosses that border again. This paper explores some of the underlying possibilities for that choice.

Paper -c: Tolkien's legendarium is peopled by mortal and immortal creatures, their diverging fate being at the heart of heroic deeds, tensions and tragedies as the professor attempted to lie down his own belief on death. At first glance the limits between those two groups are clearcut: some will die and some will linger. However, as the tale unfolds and new sources of inspirations add up, this border becomes blurry especially if love interferes. Characters will defy the laws of their own kind, cross borders and in so doing change history and even reshape worlds. But will they all succeed?