Session1641
TitleCrossing Borders in Middle-Earth
Date/TimeThursday 7 July 2022: 11.15-12.45
 
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/ChairAndrew Higgins, Centre for Fantasy & the Fantastic, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow
 
Paper 1641-a Light: The Key to Cross the Spatiotemporal Borders in J. R. R. Tolkien's Secondary World
(Language: English)
Aslı Bülbül, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Literacy and Orality
Paper 1641-b Interrogating the Liminal Space: Vampires and Werewolves in Middle-Earth
(Language: English)
Sara Brown, Department of Language & Literature, Signum University, New Hampshire
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Literacy and Orality
Paper 1641-c Time Travel, Astronomy, and Magic Mirrors: How the Borders between Reality and the Otherworld in Middle-Earth Are Influenced by Celtic Mythology and Science (Fiction)
(Language: English)
Aurelie Bremont, Centre d'Études Médiévales Anglaises (CEMA), Sorbonne Université, Paris
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Literacy and Orality
 
AbstractThis session will explore the role of borders and themes of liminality in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Paper -a
This paper explores light imagery in Tolkien's secondary world as the key which enables different characters to pass spatiotemporal borders throughout Arda's timeline. First, light defines Arda's vision, which is the primary metaphysical space made of light in the Void, before Arda is physically made. Secondly, Ilúvatar sets the Flame Imperishable at Arda's heart to create it as a physical space. After the Ainur descend to Arda and become the Valar, they make the Lamps to bring Middle-earth to life. Yavanna grows the Two Trees whose light starts the count of time for Arda. Hundreds of years later, Eärendil departs from Middle-earth and sets foot on the Undying Lands thanks to the Silmaril he has. In the secondary world, light is a tool not only to form spatiotemporal borders, but also to cross them.

Paper -b
J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth presents the reader with changing landscapes, diverse geographical features, disparate cultures and a number of different creatures - some human, some humanoid and a few that resemble neither. The reader's journey is both across and through species, as these inform an understanding of the cultural tensions and conflicts that exist within Middle-earth. Some of these species, inhabiting a liminal space within the text, blur the boundaries between the natural and the supernatural, inviting the reader to confront the uncanny in an otherwise familiar-seeming subcreation. This includes those icons of the horror/fantasy genre and popular culture: werewolves and vampires.

Paper -c
Tolkien is famous for his use of science in the building of his secondary world, using astronomy or botanic to mimic our world. However, we find multiple exceptions along the story, places when normal rules no longer apply: Lothlorien obviously comes to mind, but several others like Rivendell or the Old Forest seem to belong to an alternate reality. There is an Otherworld in Middle-earth, and it owes as much to the Celtic world of Fairy as to the Christian world of the Dead. So what actually are the rules that decide when (and where) Tolkien's characters leave their normality to enter another world? In a medieval fantastic world, how does one coherently sets boundaries between science, magic, and even science-fiction when introducing such concepts as space or time-travel?