Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series

A series of free seminars to commemorate the death of J. R. R. Tolkien, to be held in 2023/2024 in the University of Oxford. The talks present an introduction and further background to Tolkien's life, work, and legacy. They have an academic approach, but they are also aimed at those who have read Tolkien's work but are interested in gaining a bit more insight into his life, career, and writings.


Trinity Term series

Mondays 5-6.30 pm: all sessions at Magdalen College (Summer Common Room) except Week 5 and 7 (@Merton College, T.S. Eliot Theatre). Free access, no need to book.

WEEK 1 – April 22
Catherine McIlwaine (Tolkien Archivist, Bodleian Library)
“Being a cult figure in one’s lifetime is not at all pleasant”: Tolkien’s relationship with his fans  
CHAIR: Simon Horobin (Magdalen)

WEEK 2 – April 29
Hugo Lacoue-Labarthe (Exeter College, University of Oxford)
Tolkien’s Lancelot in The Fall of Arthur: the living memory of a decaying world 
CHAIR: Mark Atherton (Regent’s Park)

WEEK 3 – May 6
Edmund Weiner (Oxford English Dictionary)
‘I always felt that something ought to be done about the word…’: Tolkien's latchwords
CHAIR: Simon Horobin (Magdalen)

WEEK 4 – May 13
Dr. Eleanor Parker (Brasenose College, University of Oxford)
Tolkien and the Anglo-Saxon Calendar
CHAIR: Grace Khuri (Oriel)

Will Sherwood (University of Glasgow)  
"I am a link in the chain": Victorian Transformations of British Romanticism and their Influence on Tolkien
CHAIR: Grace Khuri (Oriel)

WEEK 6 – May 27
David Bernabé (University of Oxford/University of the Basque Country)
Riddles in the Grass: the characterisation and narrative value of landscape over the fields of Rohan
CHAIR: Anine Englund (Balliol)

Michael G.R. Tolkien (Poet and Critic)
A grandson's reflections on J.R.R. Tolkien
CHAIR: Giuseppe Pezzini (Corpus Christi)

WEEK 8 – June 10
John Holmes (University of Birmingham)
A Veritable “Middle Earth”’: Tolkien and the Palaeoanthropological Imagination
CHAIR: Giuseppe Pezzini (Corpus Christi)

HT Series

Recordings of the seminars held in Hilary Term are available on our YouTube Channel:

> The Arkenstone and the Ring: wilful objects in Tolkien's The Hobbit’ (Mark Atherton)

> Tolkien's 'Sellic Spell' and Beowulfian Poetics: the Artist and the Critic (Elena Vermeer)

> Wisdom in the Lord of the Rings (Bond West) 

> “Fundamentally religious and Catholic"? Authorial Intent and the Intentional Fallacy (Holly Ordway)

> Ents and Ecological Entanglements (Dion Dobrzynski)

> Inventing on the hoof: How the Riders of Rohan suddenly became Anglo-Saxon (John Garth)

> Tolkien Beyond Tolkien: Unleashing the Sub-Creative Imagination in an Era of Bridge Building (Eduardo Gutierrez)

> “In the halls of Mandos”: Death, Deathlessness and Inter-Racial Relations in Beren and Lúthien (Anine Englund)


MT Series

Recordings of the seminars held in Michaelmas Term in Exeter College are now available here:

  • 11th October: Stuart Lee – ‘How to write The Lord of the Rings’

  • 18th October: Michael Ward – ‘Peak Middle-earth: Why Mount Doom is not the Climax of The Lord of the Rings’

  • 1st November: Giuseppe Pezzini – ‘Tolkien and the Classics’ 

  • 8th November: Grace Khuri – ‘A Heroic History of the Elves: Tolkien’s “lost” Mythology of England?

  • 15th November: Laura Varnam – ‘Tolkien and Beowulf’

  • 22nd November:  Simon Horobin – ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Philologist’