Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series

A series of seminars to commemorate the death of J. R. R. Tolkien were held in 2023/2024 in the University of Oxford. The talks presented an introduction and further background to Tolkien's life, work, and legacy. They had an academic approach, but they were 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.

Recordings for the talks in Hilary and Trinity terms are available on our YouTube Channel (see video selection and full list below)

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

TT Series

  • Michael G.R. Tolkien (Poet and Critic) – A grandson's reflections on J.R.R. Tolkien
  • 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
  • John Holmes (University of Birmingham) A Veritable “Middle Earth”’: Tolkien and the Palaeoanthropological Imagination
  • Will Sherwood (University of Glasgow)  "I am a link in the chain": Victorian Transformations of British Romanticism and their Influence on Tolkien
  • Edmund Weiner (Oxford English Dictionary) ‘I always felt that something ought to be done about the word…’: Tolkien's latchwords
  • Hugo Lacoue-Labarthe  (Exeter College, University of Oxford) Tolkien’s Lancelot in The Fall of Arthur: the living memory of a decaying world
  • Dr. Eleanor Parker (Brasenose College, University of Oxford) Tolkien and the Anglo-Saxon Calendar,
  • 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,

HT Series

  • Mark Atherton The Arkenstone and the Ring: wilful objects in Tolkien's The Hobbit
  • Elena Vermeer Tolkien's 'Sellic Spell' and Beowulfian Poetics: the Artist and the Critic
  • Bond West Wisdom in the Lord of the Rings
  • Holly Ordway “Fundamentally religious and Catholic"? Authorial Intent and the Intentional Fallacy
  • Dion Dobrzynski Ents and Ecological Entanglements
  • John Garth Inventing on the hoof: How the Riders of Rohan suddenly became Anglo-Saxon
  • Eduardo Gutierrez Tolkien Beyond Tolkien: Unleashing the Sub-Creative Imagination in an Era of Bridge Building
  • Anine Englund “In the halls of Mandos”: Death, Deathlessness and Inter-Racial Relations in Beren and Lúthien

MT Series

  • Stuart Lee – ‘How to write The Lord of the Rings’
  • Michael Ward – ‘Peak Middle-earth: Why Mount Doom is not the Climax of The Lord of the Rings’
  • Giuseppe Pezzini – ‘Tolkien and the Classics’ 
  • Grace Khuri – ‘A Heroic History of the Elves: Tolkien’s “lost” Mythology of England?
  • Laura Varnam – ‘Tolkien and Beowulf’
  • Simon Horobin – ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Philologist’