Friday, June 24, 2016

Orcrist no. 4: and, Searching for Deborah Rogers

So, the Mythopoeic Society has a brand new member -- me. Yes, I know, I know, how could I have waited so long after being almost halfway done with a dissertation? Well, much like my membership in the Tolkien Society, which I joined so I could participate in the wonderful 2015 Tolkien Seminar in Leeds, England, I needed a boost -- I might talk about that later.

Anyway, they sent me an issue of Orcrist #4 (dated 1970) as complimentary to new members. Leafing through it, and I noted a number of interesting things:

  • Lloyd Alexander, author of The Prydain Chronicles, wrote a letter to the editor, Richard W. West. He praises LOTR as "one of the greatest masterpieces of literature." That shouldn't have surprised me, except it kinda does. I don't think it mentioned that on his wikipedia page when I was looking him up. The letter is especially intriguing because I'd read The Prydain Chronicles a few months ago. So . . . huh. A Tolkien connection!

  • Another letter to the editor, this time from Bonniejean Christensen. She refers to William Ready's book about Tolkien as "dreadful" and deserving a review entirely "condemnatory" in nature. Again, this wouldn't be noteworthy except that I just leafed Ready's book a few days ago, looking up a reference. So, double huh. Who'd a thunk it. What a co-winky-dink, as they say.

  • And third (and most intriguing): Orcrist #4 published the dissertation proposal of someone named Deborah Webster Rogers. This is interesting because, well, who'd ever think to publish a dissertation proposal? I admire her gumption as well, plus Mythsoc for being interested such a thing in the first place. Anyway, according to Orcrist, the proposal was accepted on 5-19-1970. Then I searched through ProQuest Dissertations and saw her dissertation published two years later in 1972.

So, naturally, I wondered, "What has happened to Dr. Deborah Champion Webster Rogers" (as her name appears on ProQuest)? Tales of grad school survivors always fascinate me. I couldn't remember ever seeing any published criticism from her, so what did she do? How did she fulfill her academic promise? Did she ever get her ideas out there?

A quick google search reveals a book co-written with her husband. The reference appears in a bibliography compiled by J.R.R. Tolkien and his Literary Resonances, edited by George C. Clark and Daniel Timmons. The book also appears on Amazon, and the citation is:

  • Rogers, Deborah Champion Webster, and Ivor A. Rogers. J.R.R. Tolkien. Boston: Twayne, 1980.

But then the name of "Twayne Publishers" rang a bell . . . and, after a few searches, I discovered that my library has a copy, and that I'd browsed that book just two days ago. Basically, hunting down references for my current diss chapter, I leafed through every Tolkien book owned by my library. I instinctively distrust anything prior to 1981-1982 (the Letters and The Road to Middle-earth, respective), so I hadn't paid it much attention. Nonetheless, the mind boggles as scholarship comes full circle.

Rogers also did a brief bit for American Notes and Queries and an excerpt from something (presumably her diss) for Contemporary Literary Criticism. After 1980, though, academic searches don't pull up anything. Nor does google reveal anything else substantial. So, a little goose chase. 

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