Friday, May 18, 2018

Oh, the Fun of Searching Through Old Fanzines

Argh. So, thanks to the MLA International Bibliography, I recently saw an article on Poul Anderson's medievalism by well-known Tolkienist Richard C. West.** It appeared in a 1973 issue of a small fanzine called Unicorn. Amazingly enough, the U of A library had it as a bound volume, so I mosey on down here . . . and discover that the bound volume has all the issues of Unicorn EXCEPT the one I'm specifically looking for. 

Well, interlibrary loan, you are now my new best friend.

**West, Richard C. "Medieval Borrowings in the Fiction of Poul Anderson." Unicorn 2.5 (1973): 16-19.

Monday, May 14, 2018

And in the unexpected e-mails category . . .

Just received one from a professor in Belgrade (!) who asked me a question about Saul Kripke's modal semantics. I imagine this guy thought to contact me cuz of my article on possible worlds theory in Fastitocalon last November, but yeah, I kinda had to redirect the poor fellow on his particular question. I took a course of formal logic as an undergrad, plus a brief informal seminar on modal logic, but all that was way back in the day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

End of Kalamazoo

So, after four sessions plus a business meeting here in Kalamazoo, I'm at the airport and ready to go home. This has probably been one of the most -- if not the most -- productive conference I've ever attended, and that includes meeting Stephen R. Donaldson during ICFA a few months ago. As I sit here, I've been ruminating about the biggest takeway. Even more than hearing many great papers, I suppose, was the chance to meet Tolkienists in person -- but even that deserves some expansion, I feel.

It's one thing of meeting Tolkienists whose work I've long admired*** . . .  but also another thing to meet Tolkienists whose names I recognized but whose work was only vaguely known to me. Tolkien Studies is such an incredibly large field, with several new books and essay collections being published each year, that as a poor hapless grad student struggling to finish his dissertation, sometimes you just have to ignore, or merely skim, some of the newest stuff. It's a sanity-saving device -- you can't keep absolutely as up to date as you'd like when you're writing, so you tend to gloss over those scholars only tangentially related to your own interests. But Kalamazoo has helped me put faces to some of those names, and that'll help to raise my awareness of their work. It's one thing to know that a book has recently been published on Topic X -- another thing to recognize how the immense amount of work-hours being put into these projects but other people. And now if I see an article by John or Jane Doe, it'll make a greater impression now than it did before.

*** and having dinner with them!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Action packed last 24 hours in Kalamazoo


So, got in at 3 am this morning -- that's the first bit of news (although, given the time zones, it was "only" midnight according to my internal body clock).

Went to the first Tolkien panel at 10:30 am, hearing papers from Dimitra Fimi, Kris Swank (who teaches at Pima C.C. in Tucson, apparently!), and Yvette Kisor. Then came my panel at 1:30 pm . . . and a rollicking good time was had by all. Andrew Higgins and Jane Chance (!) gave good papers, and my paper was . . .well, stimulating? Let's call it stimulating. It certainly spurred a fair number of questions / pressure points during the Q&A. Basically, I was explaining why Boromir got a raw deal in the text and why his thymotic qualities are being undervalued both by the text and by Tolkien scholarship alike. It's kinda tricky to make such an argument, as I'm arguing that Boromir isn't as good as someone like Faramir but that his perceived vices are not really vices. Well, not very many people seemed convinced, it seemed, but the discussion was quite lively nonetheless, and I came away with a number of argumentative points that needed sharpening.

Then, after the panel, the really big stuff happened.

At least for me, at any rate -- afterwards, I found a small group of Tolkienists, who couldn't have been more friendly or more welcoming, and spent the next 6 hours chatting with them about all things various and sundry. Had some free wine which the medievalists were giving away. Went to a lovely local Indian restaurant for dinner. Now's it's 9 pm eastern time and I'm exhausted. Too much excitement, and now it's time for bed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Heading to Kalamazoo . . .

At the airport now, ready to make the long flight (two layovers!) from Tucson to Kalamazoo. . . will be arriving at 11:10 pm. They say that the Medieval Institute shuttle services all flights, I'm still a little nervous about how late I'll be arriving, and since the dorms apparently close at midnight, any delays might find myself sleeping out of door.s

But I'm pretty excited about this, and there'll be quite a collection of Tolkien scholars involved.

And here's to hoping that nobody notices that I'm not a medievalist!