Tolkien Discussion: Fantasy, Wales, The Hobbit movie and more!

Caleb Woodbridge and Olivia Cottrell are joined by fellow Tolkien-geeks Gwen Williams and Alex Zens to get the literary lowdown on all things Middle-Earth related.

We chat about why we love Tolkien, plus those things about his writing that perhaps aren’t quite so great. We also discuss Tolkien’s impact on the fantasy genre, his relationship with Wales, and what it’s like to study Tolkien at university. And to round it off, we talk about the upcoming Hobbit movie and what we liked and didn’t like about The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

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Let us know what you think about all things Tolkien-related in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Tolkien Discussion: Fantasy, Wales, The Hobbit movie and more!

  1. An interesting discussion particularly on Tolkien and scholarly analysis. You noted that there was little on Tolkien on gender, race and class which were the normal points for scholarship.

    Do you believe this ought to be the case, as some of the panel seemed to think, or it just represents what the important issues are to most scholars? It real boils down to the point of literary criticism.

    Regarding the Hobbit films I predict they will be too long and should have been directed by Guillemo del Toro.

  2. I think that the mainstream critical concerns of gender, race, class, nationalism etc. can be somewhat restricting. So in a way it's refreshing to come to Tolkien scholarship, where the main debates are very different.

    The downside is that it ghettoizes Tolkien scholarship. I think Tolkien scholarship would benefit from engaging more with the mainstream of literary criticism, but also that the mainstream of literary criticism would benefit from Tolkien scholarship.

    "The themes of Good and Evil" is over-explored in Tolkien scholarship, but under-explored in literary criticism more broadly, for example. So I think more contact between the two would be mutually beneficial.

  3. As far as the point of literary criticism goes, I don't think there's one single purpose. There are lots of different ways of looking at literature, many of which yield valuable and interesting insights.

    For example, you might want to focus on literary style, or on characteristics, or on historical context, or its philosophical themes and underpinnings, or how it has been received by audiences down the years, or on its social assumptions, or any of a hundred and one other things.

    Some will work better with certain texts and authors than others. Different schools of literary criticism (Marxist, poststructuralist, formalist, humanist, etc.) emphasise different aspects in keeping with their various assumptions and so on. As a Christian, I've got my own take on things, but most approaches have something legitimate to say, even if I don't entirely go along with them.

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