Dimitra Fimi

Dimitra Fimi

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News

27 November 2013: Science Fiction Festival, new Mythgard Course and “things Celtic”

It’s been a busy autumn, with my first public lecture after having a baby, new publications in the pipeline and new, exciting academic ventures.

On 18-19 October I took part in Literature WalesSpace, Time, Machine and Monster festival at the Riverfront Arts Centre, Newport. My talk was on "Tolkien's Middle-earth: Fantasy and the Reality" and explored the depth and vast detail of the Middle-Earth world. It also examined Tolkien’s attempts to link this imaginary world to reality via ‘mythical’ history and the construction of artefacts supposedly from Middle-Earth. This was the first time I had given a public lecture after nearly a year (what with the last stages of pregnancy and maternity leave, my last such appearance was my keynote for The Politics of Contemporary Fantasy conference at Wurzburg in October 2012!) It was lovely to give a Tolkien lecture again: it was very well-attended, I had very interesting questions and the discussion was lively and informed – great audience! I also enjoyed the session on Arthur Machen (the Welsh writer of ‘weird tales’, admired by H. P. Lovecraft, and recognised by Jorge Luis Borges) presented by Gwilym Games and the brilliant Catherine Fisher.

I am also very excited to be embarking on a new academic adventure: in January, and for the entire Spring semester 2014, I will be joining the Mythgard Institute (a new, online academic institution based in the US) as a Visiting Professor. I will be teaching a brand-new online course on Celtic Myth in Children’s Fantasy which bridges my previous expertise with my current research. I am looking forward to exploring the Irish and Welsh medieval tales and poems that make up the magic of ‘Celtic’ myth, and to teaching some of my favourite contemporary fantasy novels, many of which have won prestigious awards (such as Alan Garner’s The Owl Service; Susan Cooper’s The Grey King; Jenny Nimmo’s The Snow Spider; and Kate Thompson’s The New Policeman). Enrolment is now open!

To celebrate the opening of enrolment of this online course I have now made available via my Academia.edu page my two earlier articles on Tolkien and “things Celtic”, originally published in 2006 and 2007 respectively (see also under Publications):

Last but not least: at long last, I am on Twitter! You can follow me for Tolkien-/Fantasy-/Myth-/Folklore-related news @Dr_Dimitra_Fimi.

16 June 2013: A much delayed update: Salem Press' The Fantastic, (re) reading The Hobbit and Tolkien's The Fall of Arhur


It's been a while since I have had a chance to update the News section (I am on maternity leave, with all the joys and tribulations that this encompasses!) so some most of the announcements here are a few months/weeks old, but still worth reporting. First of all, a new volume of Salem Press's Critical Insights series appeared late last year, focusing on The Fantastic. The volume looks at the broader category of 'the fantastic', rather than strictly fantasy. I contributed a chapter on 'Tolkien and the Fantasy Tradition', and this is - to my knowledge - the only book to discuss Tolkien alongside Borges, Kundera, Calvino, Poe, and Hoffmann, among others.

In the months preceding the release of the first Hobbit film, The Tolkienist ran a series of posts entitled 75 reasons why you should read the Hobbit before watching the films. A number of well-known Tolkien scholars contributed their response to this prompt. My contribution focused on the nature and place of The Hobbit in Tolkien's legendarium, and on the style and tone of this celebrated children's book.


Last, but definitely not least, I have enjoyed reading Tolkien's eagerly-awaited The Fall of Arthur during the last couple of weeks. Tolkien scholars and enthusiasts have known about the existence of this unfinished alliterative poem since Humphrey Carpenter’s Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien (published in 1977). Tolkien’s fascination with the Arthurian legend is apparent from numerous references and creatively re-used motifs in his extended legendarium, but this is the first time scholars and fans have been able to appreciate Tolkien’s retelling of the Arthurian story itself. Christopher Tolkien's commentary reveals fascinating drafts, in which Tolkien was clearly planning to link this poem to his extended legendarium. In my 2006 Tolkien Studies article (see under Publications), I argued that the 14th-century alliterative Morte Arthure was a better source-candidate for Tolkien's Arthurian poem than Malory's Morte d'Arthur (as suggested by H. Carpenter). So, you can imagine my delight after reading Christopher Tolkien’s commentary, confirming my earlier hypothesis!

23 October 2012: Dublin, Wurzburg and Hobbit Day

In the last few weeks I took part in two brilliant conferences in Ireland and Germany. Tolkien: The Forest and the City was held at the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, on 21st-22nd September 2012. I presented a paper alongside an impressive array of Tolkien scholars including Tom Shippey, Michael Drout and Thomas Honegger. My paper was entitled: "'Wildman of the Woods': Inscribing Tragedy on the Landscape of Middle-earth in The Children of Hurin" and explored ideas of the city vs. the wilderness in Turin's movements on the map of Beleriand and the way his tragic story re-enacts Oedipus' similar route and fate.

Between 5th and 7th October I was in Wurzburg, Germany to give a keynote lecture for The Politics of Contemporary Fantasy conference held at the University of Wurzburg. My lecture was on "Revisiting Race in Tolkien's Legendarium: Constructing Cultures and Ideologies in an Imaginary World", in which I explored Tolkien's hierarchical secondary world and the materiality of his invented cultures. Most of the conference papers focused on contemporary fantasy and there were some excellent discussions and debates that developed during sessions. I also enjoyed the second keynote lecture by Farah Mendlesohn on "Post-Colonialism, Post-Second-World-War Fantasy and the Construction of Childhood". There was a report on the conference on German radio (Deutschlandfunk: "Der Zauber magischer Welten") for which I gave a short interview. You can hear to this short programme (in German - my contribution is dubbed, but you can hear me in the background!) via this link.

Meanwhile, on Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthday (22nd of September) I contributed a reading of a short extract from The Hobbit for Middle-earth Network's Hobbit Day 2012. I chose the second part of Chapter 3 ('A Short Rest') which includes a description of Elrond and the discovery of the moon-letters on Thorin's map. My reading was broadcast online as part of a series of readings by a number of Tolkien scholars, artists and fans, including Colin Duriez, Ted Nasmith, Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger and many others.


10 September 2012: Return of the Ring and Tolkien Library Interview

This August I took part in the Tolkien Society's major event since 2005, The Return of the Ring (16-20 August), a celebration of Tolkien on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. This was a five-day event that interweaved academic lectures and papers, fan activities and presentations, an art exhibition and book stalls, and prestigious keynote addresses. The Guest of Honour this time was Brian Sibley, best known for his BBC Radio 4’s acclaimed adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Other plenary addresses included speakers such as Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s grandson, Michael Tolkien, who talked about the influence of his grandfather’s essay ‘On Fairy-Stories’ on his own creative work.

I was honoured to be one of the special guests, alongside many other scholars, artists and performers. My talk focused on "Elves, Goblins and Other ‘Fairy’ Things in The Hobbit: Tolkien’s Victorian and Edwardian Inspiration" (see here for an abstract) which expanded my research on fairies in Tolkien's early work (published in my book) to the period of The Hobbit. I was also very excited to take part in an event that run parallel with the main sessions of Return of the Ring: a Postgraduate Symposium in which younger scholars, who are currently studying Tolkien at MA and PhD level, were given the opportunity to present their research and share ideas. Alongside Martin Barker (University of Aberystwyth), Mark Atherton (Oxford University), and Corey Olsen (Washington College) I led a number of those postgraduate sessions, and was very impressed with the standard of papers and research presented. It was also very rewarding to see some of my own former Tolkien online students presenting at this conference, including Sara Brown, Sandra Hall, Andrew Higgins, Sonja Virta and Elise McKenna. In addition, I was involved with organising four discussion panels on Tolkien and Education focusing on "Tolkien in International Higher Education" (which I chaired), "Tolkien and Literary Tourism", "Tolkien Research" and "Lifelong Learning Tolkien: Face-to-face and Online" (in which I took part as a speaker). I also signed copies of my book and was one of the judges who selected the scholar who gave the Christine Davidson Memorial lecture and received the accompanying bursary (we had a wonderful lecture by Benjamin Barootes!) Overall, Return of the Ring was a great event - it was lovely to see so many colleagues and friends and talk Tolkien continuously for five days!

In early September, the Tolkien Library published an interview with me on teaching and researching Tolkien, in which I repeated an announcement I initially made at Return of the Ring: that my Tolkien online course will run this autumn term (starting on 19th September) for the last time for some time, as I am intending to take a break from teaching online for a year or so. So here's your last chance to enrol for a little while!


23 July 2012: Cardiff Met Student Led Teaching Fellowship

My University (Cardiff Metropolitan University) launched a series of Student-led teaching fellowships this year, giving students the opportunity to recognise and reward good teaching practice. The students were asked to nominate lecturers for the following award categories: Best Feedback, Innovative Teaching, Most Inspiring, Most Organized Module, and Best Preparation for Work.

I was very honoured and humbled to receive the Fellowship for Most Inspiring lecturer. The Fellowship was awarded during this year's Graduation ceremony. I was so proud to see my students graduate (the first generation since I moved to Cardiff Met to have taught from freshers all the way to Year 3) and I was very moved to step up on the stage and receive this award during their big day! Many congratulations to all and best of luck with all of your future ventures!

20 April 2012: Recent publications, conferences and other news

The last few months too many things have happened that I have not managed to report in a timely fashion - I have been getting into the habit of using facebook for daily and weekly updates, so feel free to subscribe to my public updates if you want!

Last September I attended and presented a paper at Tolkien Society's annual September gathering and conference in Oxford, Oxonmoot (Lady Margaret Hall, 23-25 September 2011). The conference included a series of interesting presentations and concluded with Enyalie, an act of remembrance at Tolkien's grave. My paper was entitled: 'Kipling, Tolkien and their 'mythology for England': from Puck of Pook's Hill to The Book of Lost Tales'.

During October 2011, Literature Wales opened and ran Wales’ first ever Literature Lounge in St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff. This pop-up literary emporium hosted an exciting series of literary events including poetry, prose, performance, games, workshops, talks, readings and much more. I contributed a public talk on 13 October on 'Children’s Literature and Fantasy: From The Water Babies to Harry Potter'.

On 11 December 2011, I was delighted to return to Buckland Hall for another Tolkien event, following last June's Literary Walk on Tolkien's Wales. A Taste of Tolkien was organised in partnership with Literature Wales. I was honoured to give a lecture alongside highly acclaimed children’s fantasy novelist Catherine Fisher (author of The Oracle Trilogy, Incarceron and Sapphique, and recently named Young People’s Laureate of Wales) and historical and Tolkien-inspired artist Stephen Walsh, whose illustrations have appeared in Harper Collins’ Lord of the Rings postcard collection and the ‘Middle Earth Collectible Card Game’ by Iron Crown Enterprises. Buckland Hall was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the evening ended with extracts from Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas and mulled wine!

On 15 March I gave the Chatterton Lecture at Bristol's M-Shed, organised by the UWE Regional History Centre, in association with the Thomas Chatterton Society. My topic was: 'Chatterton's Forgery, Feigned Manuscripts and Literary Legacy: The Case of J.R.R. Tolkien'. I read Chatterton's forgeries as a creative process of inventing a pseudo-medieval 'secondary' world and explored Tolkien's Middle-earth as part of the same legacy of forged/faked/feigned manuscripts, which gave Tolkien's invented cosmos a sense of historicity. Ultimately, my talk examined the tensions between 'real' and imaginary, feigned and forged, history and fantasy. For a more detailed abstract please visit this link.

Last week I took part in two more exciting events. On Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 April I lectured on Tolkien and Fantasy literature for the Danish Institute for Culture's study tour held at Mansfield College, alongside well-known scholars in the field including Peter Hunt and Michael Ward. On that weekend I took part in the Folklore and Fantasy Conference co-organised by the Folklore Society and the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy held at the University of Chichester (Friday 13 - Sunday 15 April 2012). My paper was titled: '"You must’ve heard of Babbitty Rabbitty!": Fairy Tales and Folklore in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.' For the entire conference programme please visit this link.

Meanwhile, Janice Bogstad's and Philip Kaveny's edited collection Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy was published by McFarland. My chapter, 'Filming Folklore: Adapting Fantasy for the Big Screen through Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings' had a long gestation (it was initially presented as a conference paper for the 2006 Folklore Society AGM and conference - see Presentations) so it was great to see it in print at last! You can have a look at the book's table of contents via this link - it includes chapters by an impressive array of Tolkien scholars such as Verlyn Flieger, Michael Drout and John Rateliff.

Last but not least, my latest research article in an academic journal was published a few weeks ago. Not on Tolkien this time, but on a Greek children's author whose literary fairy tales were an important part of my childhood reading: Penelope Delta. Penelope Delta was a diaspora Greek who lived in Alexandria (Egypt), Liverpool, and Frankfurt before settling down in Athens. Her literary fairy tales (‘Kunstmarchen’) – like her own upbringing and cultural background – reflect a hybrid status between Northwestern and Eastern traditions, blending Greek elements and Northwestern European fairy-tale motifs. My article is titled 'Between Greece and Northwestern Europe: The Fairy Tales of Penelope Delta' and was published in Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern, volume II.

Other news:

18 September 2011: Exciting new one-day courses at UWIC: Folklore, Literature and Tradition Through the Seasons

I am thrilled to announce an exciting new series of four thematically linked Day Schools at UWIC, which will explore Folklore, Literature and Tradition Through the Seasons. The Day Schools will focus on some of the most influential festivals, customs and traditions that have been important for centuries and are very much part of our year cycle today: Halloween, the Twelve Days of Christmas, and Spring and Summer Festivals. I will be teaching these courses alongside internationally-acclaimed folklorist Dr Juliette Wood. Here are the titles and dates for all four Day Schools:

  • Things that go Bump in the Night: Halloween in Literature and Folklore, Saturday, 15th October 2011, 10am-3pm
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas: Customs, Traditions and Literature from Christmas to Epiphany, Saturday, 10th December 2011, 10am-3pm
  • Valentine Hearts, Easter Eggs and Beltane Fires: Spring Festivals in Folklore and Literature, Saturday, 25th February 2012, 10am-3pm
  • Midsummer Nights: Summer Traditions and Literature, Saturday, 12th May 2012, 10am-3pm

You can book now for our first Day School on Halloween! Each Day School costs £70 which includes:

  • 4 hours of taught sessions
  • handouts and suggested further material
  • refreshments
  • lunch
  • a certificate for attendance
To book, please contact the Enterprise Team at Cardiff School of Education on 029 2041 7078/6577 or cseenterprise@uwic.ac.uk.


This is a great opportunity for teachers looking for staff development and inspiration, as well as people who work in cultural or creative industries. And, of course, just the perfect educational environment for people interested in folklore, tradition, literature and popular culture!

Special offer!!! Book onto all Day Schools before 15th October at the discounted price of £240! Speciall offer!!!


21 July 2011: Online Tolkien course running again in October

I am very pleased to announce that the Tolkien online course (Masters Level) I have been teaching at UWIC will run again in October 2011! The course is entitled J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context, it is taught entirely online in 10 weekly Units, and explores Tolkien's medieval sources and cultural context. For a detailed outline of the course contents, please see the video presentation below. Enrolment is now open!


1 July 2011: Tolkien's Wales in the Black Mountains

Yesterday, 30th June 2011, I led a "literary walk" on "Tokien's Wales in the Black Mountains", organised by Literature Wales in partnership with Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. This walk was part of the Literary Tourism Programme run by Literature Wales (see here for a brochure with all the tours and walks for 2011). The meeting point was the beautiful Buckland Hall, from where we set up for a 2-hour walk ascending Buckland Hill and following the ridge overlooking the Caerfanell Valley and mountains to the west. The views were just stunning and we were lucky to enjoy lovely sunshine! My talk begun with Tolkien's visits to Wales and his love and use of the Welsh language in the invention of Sindarin. I also talked about the Welsh 'fringes' of the Shire and Bree (reflected in place- and family-names), resonances from the 'Mabonogion' in Tolkien's legendarium, Welsh dragons in Tolkien's non-Middle-earth works, and his 1955 lecture 'English and Welsh'. This is the first time I have ever given an outdoors talk, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! This was a brilliant idea for an event, linking literature, biography and place, and offering me an opportunity to share my research with a wider public in an ideal location! I am grateful to Literature Wales and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority for this great opportunity and many thanks to Buckland Hall for warm hospitality!

15 June 2011: Tolkien Society AGM, Tolkien at Kalamazoo, and other news

On 16 April 2011 the Tolkien Society held its Annual General Meeting, this year hosted at The White Hart Royal Hotel, in Moreton-in-Marsh. I was very honoured to be the guest speaker after the formal dinner in the evening, following the AGM. Bearing in mind that previous speakers have included members of the Tolkien family (Priscilla Tolkien, Michael Tolkien and others), Tolkien's publisher Rayner Unwin and his biographer Humphrey Carpenter, as well as a great number of established names in Tolkien Scholarship (Tom Shippey, Colin Duriez, Patrick Curry, Brian Rosebury, John Garth, among others) I took on the task of the after-dinner talk with some trepidation and was very relieved to see it went down well (for details on the contents of my talk see Charles Noad's report in Amon Hen).

My next Tolkien engagement took me to the US to take part in the "Tolkien at Kalamazoo" sessions. Since 2001 the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, MI, has included sessions specifically on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, presided, co-organized and supported by a number of eminent scholars who have published outstanding academic works on Tolkien, like Jane Chance, Verlyn Flieger, and Douglas A. Anderson. This year the congress took place between 12 and 15 May 2011 and there were seven sessions on Tolkien's work including "Languages in Tolkien’s Legendarium", "Scholar as Minstrel: Music and Tolkien", "Geography, Lands, Environments in Tolkien’s Legendarium" and "Returning Heroes" (you can see the programme of the entire conference here and John D. Rateliff has helpfully posted an overview of the Tolkien sessions on his blog). The title of my paper was "Kipling, Tolkien, and Romantic Anglo-Saxonism", presented as part of the "Romantic Nationalism in Tolkien’s Legendarium" session on Thursday 12 May. I also took part in a dramatic reading of Tolkien's poem "The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun", together with John D. Rateliff (who organised this performance), Deidre Dawson, Richard C. West and Deborah Webster Rogers. For my photos from Kalamazoo see here.

On 23 May my Fantasy online course at UWIC started (Fantasy Literature: Tales Before and After Tolkien). We are now in the 4th week of the course, having explored the roots of modern fantasy (Romanticism, the literary fairy tale, and the work of Victorian and Edwardian fantasist such as George MacDonald, William Morris, Charles Kingsley and J.M. Barrie), now examining the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and looking forward to studying the contributions of later fantasy authors (including C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling). We are very fortunate to have a special guest this time: Douglas A. Anderson, author of the celebrated Annotated Hobbit, has joined the Discussion Board of this online course and is taking part in our debates and discussions. TheOneRing.net announced our special guest here. Also, Douglas A. Anderson now has a new blog, which I am sure you will all want to check out!

Other news:

14 March 2011: Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses at UWIC to Run Again in May!

The two online courses I run at UWIC last autumn will run again in May, starting on Monday 23rd May 2011. Enrolment is now open!

Fantasy Literature: Tales Before and After Tolkien (Year 3 undergraduate level) will examine the origins and development of fantasy literature from the 19th to the 21st century, exploring key texts such as Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context (MA level) will explore in detail the mythology, medieval inspirations, linguistic invention and cultural context of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy work.

For more information on both online courses visit this page, and see here for Frequently Asked Questions.
You can also follow us on facebook and Twitter!

Also, today I gave a short interview on BBC Radio Wales for the Jamie and Louise show, commenting on Fantasy Literature. The occasion was the Royal Mail's issuing a series of Magical Realms stamps with characters from British Fantasy books. You can listen to this interview here (see also under 'Media').

8 March 2011: Tom Shippey Lecture at UWIC - all welcome!

I am delighted to announce that the School of Education at UWIC will be hosting an Open Lecture by Tom Shippey entitled: "Writing into the Gap: Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún" on Wednesday, 23rd March 20011, at 7pm, in Lecture Theatre 4 at our Cyncoed Campus, Cardiff.

Professor Tom Shippey really needs no introduction to any Tolkien student. He is one of the most respected scholars internationally on medieval studies, and his work marked the beginning of serious academic study of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings. His career followed in the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien as he taught at Oxford University at St. John’s College for seven years, overlapping with Tolkien’s last years of retirement, and then he was appointed Professor of English Language at the University of Leeds, where he inherited Tolkien’s chair and syllabus. He is the author of two of the most quoted books in Tolkien studies: The Road to Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. It is a great honour to have him lecture at UWIC on the most recent Tolkien book published (for more information on The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún see brief presentation and videos below - scroll down to 15th May 2009). I am personally very much looking forward to this lecture!

This is an Open Lecture and admission is free, but due to the popularity of the speaker we have asked all who plan to attend to e-mail UWIC at cseenterprise@uwic.ac.uk and reserve a seat. You can find more information on this lecture here.


7 March 2011: (Long Overdue) Update!

The last few months have been very busy, including traditional and online teaching (both undergraduate and postgraduate), a public lecture, work on future publications, and some media work. Here is a list of some of the things I have been involved in:

On 12th November 2010 I appeared on the Jamie and Louise show on BBC Radio Wales, commenting on the 7th Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1). We were joined on the phone by popular Welsh actor Steffan Rhodri (many of you will know him as Dave Coaches from the hit TV series Gavin & Stacey). Steffan played an important role in the film: he was Reg Cattermole, a Ministry of Magic employee, into whom Ron Weasley transforms by drinking polyjuice potion when breaking into the Ministry of Magic with Harry and Hermione. You can listen to this interview here (see also under 'Media').

On Wednesday 15th December 2010, I gave a public lecture at UWIC on Christmas in Literature and Tradition. I explored literary texts and traditions from the early Church, to the Middle Ages, to Elizabethan times, all the way to the 'invention' of modern Christmas in the Victorian period. Among others, I discussed the Middle English Arthurian poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and a number of texts by William Shakespeare, John Milton, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and Langston Hughes. I also included contemporary poetry by writers such as Connie Bensley and Helen Dunmore, and could not resist closing by a brief discussion of A Charlie Brown Christmas from Charles M. Schulz's much loved Peanuts series. Those who attended the lecture were also offered mince pies and fruit punch to complete the festive cheer atmosphere.

Last term (autumn 2010) I ran two online courses via UWIC: an undergraduate course on Fantasy Literature, and a more demanding MA-level course on J.R.R. Tolkien. The courses were a great success, and included two very lively Discussion Boards. Following this success, some of my Tolkien online students expressed their wish to continue discussing and debating Tolkien online, so it was decided that they could take over the Discussion Board of the Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses at UWIC facebook group! They are the Tolk-lings and have started the mamoth task of discussing online The History of Middle-earth chapter by chapter, reading and commenting on one chapter per week! The discussion has now reached chapter 10 of The Book of Lost Tales! The Discussion Board is open to anyone interested (make sure you join the group first, so that you can post), so feel free to follow it or participate here.

In February 2011, the publication date of a new collection of articles, to which I have contributed an essay, was announced. Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy has been edited by Janice Bogstad and Philip Kaveny and includes essays by the editors as well as by Verlyn Flieger, Michael Drout, John Rateliff, Richard West, Janet Brennan Croft and Robin Anne Reid. The table of contents and excerpts will be released soon here (the official release date for this book is July 31st 2011). My essay looks at Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings as a case study for the role of folklore in filming fantasy literature. You can pre-order this book here.

Finally, on Thursday 3rd March, on the occasion of World Book Day, I was asked to write a small piece for The Western Mail, entitled 'Join the Great Chain of Reading and be Inspired'. You can read this brief article via the online version of the newspaper here.

Last point: last week, while lecturing for my Year 1 undergraduate module Introduction to Poetry, I discussed Alfred, Lord Tennyson's celebrated poem 'Ulysses' (published in 1842). I had decided on the content of this lecture months ago, but my timing proved just right: the last line of the poem, 'To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield', has been chosen to be engraved on a wall in the Olympic Village. See here for more on this story. This choice is not such a surprise, as this poem has always been read as an urge to strive onward against all adversity. The same last line of the poem was inscribed on a cross at Observation Hill, Antarctica, to commemorate Captain Scott and his men.

1 October 2010: Festival in the Shire and Oxonmoot 2010

This has been a very hectic summer with many commitments, including speaking at various conferences, preparing new teaching material, and carrying out research in a number of different libraries! Here's a quick update.

I took part in Festival in the Shire, which was held in Pontrhydfendigaid, mid-Wales between 13 and 15 August 2010. I was very honoured to present a paper in the academic conference alongside such eminent scholars as Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, Colin Manlove, Colin Duriez, John Garth and many others. My paper was entitled: "The Welsh Language and Tolkien’s 'Linguistic Aesthetic': The Appeal of Sindarin Elvish". I also had the opportunity to present my Fantasy and Tolkien online courses at UWIC to the Festival attendees and to join in some brilliant discussions about the purpose and value of academic study into fantasy literature.

I have now also received my Aslan statue to commemorate my book winning the 2010 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies (see below for more details)!

And, to make this a perfect Tolkien summer, I also managed to get organised and attend and present a paper at the annual gathering of the Tolkien Society in Oxford. This year “Oxonmoot” was held in Lady Margaret Hall between 24 and 26 September 2010, and I delivered my paper "Tolkien and the Fairies: Faith and Folklore" on the Saturday. The Sunday was also special, and I was very moved when I attended Enyalië, the TS memorial ceremony at J.R.R. Tolkien's graveside.

I am back to my lecturing duties full-time now at UWIC! Some exciting new modules I will be teaching this academic year include: Literary Transformations (Year 2, undergraduate) and Representing 'the Past' (Masters).

13 July 2010: UWIC Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses: Enrolment open!

Enrolment for my two new online courses is now open! You can enrol online by following the links at the Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses webpage. Also, you may want to have a look at our facebook page, where you can find recent announcements about an exciting array of electronic resources that will be available to the students of both courses.

  • For more information on Fantasy Literature: From Victorian Fairy Tales to Modern Imaginary Worlds see here
  • For more information on J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context see here
  • For a list of F.A.Q. for both online courses see here
  • To follow us on facebook click here
  • To follow us on Twitter click here
  • To enrol on one of these courses click here

11 July 2010: Tolkien, Race and Cultural History wins the 2010 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies!

I am absolutely delighted to have found out that my book, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, has won the 2010 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies! The winners of this year’s awards were announced today at Mythcon 41 in Dallas, Texas.

I am very honoured to join a long-established community of students of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, and many other writers in the fantasy genre. Many of the books honoured by this very award during the last few years opened the way for further insights into Tolkien’s mythopoeia: my book wouldn’t have been possible without them!

Thanks for everyone who helped me along the way while writing this book, and while working on its previous incarnation as a PhD thesis!


June 2010: UWIC Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses in the Press and Radio

My two new online courses, which will be taught via UWIC starting in October 2010, have attracted some media attention in the last few days. Yesterday, an one-page article appeared on The Western Mail, and this morning I was interviewed by BBC Radio Wales, alongside the fantasy author Tim Lebbon. Both courses have already attracted huge interest from prospective students all over the world and I am really looking forward to getting started! The Fantasy online course (Fantasy Literature: From Victorian Fairy Tales to Modern Imaginary Worlds) will explore the fascinating world of fantasy literature, from its Victorian roots to its most recent examples, while the Tolkien course (J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context) will examine J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, from his much-loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, to his extended mythology.

2 June 2010: Tolkien, Race and Cultural History shortlisted for the 2010 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies

I have just found out that my book, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, is a finalist for the 2010 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies!

The Mythopoeic Society has been giving awards for fantasy literature and scholarship since the 1970s. It presents annually four awards, two Fantasy Awards (Adult Literature and Children's Literature) and two Scholarship Awards (Inklings Studies and Myth and Fantasy Studies). Prior winners of the award in the category my book was shortlisted include: John Rateliff's The History of the Hobbit (2009), Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond's The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (2007) and John Garth's Tolkien and the Great War (2004). I am very humbled to have been considered for this prestigious award for my first book!

The winners of this year’s awards will be announced during Mythcon 41, to be held July 9-12, 2010, in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, I will not be able to travel to the US at that time, but I will be following the conference proceedings online!

12 May 2010: Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses at UWIC

Thanks to everyone for your interest in the new online courses I will be teaching at UWIC from October 2010! I have now received a lot of e-mails and I am doing my best to reply to all of them! To make things easier with queries related to these two online courses, the UWIC team has now created a webpage for each course:

We also now have a facebook group dedicated to these two online courses! Make sure you visit us!

29 March 2010: STOP PRESS! Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses coming up!

I am very excited to announce that from October 2010 I will be teaching online again! University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) have approved two new courses which I will be teaching entirely online from October 2010! The courses are entitled:

The courses will be open to students and adult learners all over the world. I will be posting more information about the courses, including contents, set texts, how to enrol, etc after the Easter holidays. Meanwhile, if you are interested in joining a mailing list to receive further information about these courses please click on Contact and leave your e-mail address and the message "online courses mailing list". I will keep you posted! Happy Easter!

15 March: Festival in the Shire Journal - Issue 3

Issue 3 of the online magazine Festival in the Shire Journal has just appeared. The journal includes a range of interesting articles and interviews in an appealing, web-wise layout.

I was honoured to be interviewed by Colin Duriez (himself a Tolkien scholar and author) for this issue, and to see my interview appearing alongside those of long-established colleagues such as Verlyn Flieger and Michael Drout. This comes in a series of personal blushing incidents as I was very humbled to have been mentioned in Tom Shippey's interview in the previous issue of the Journal.

Issue 3 also includes a review of my book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits by Charles Noad (reprinted from www.lotrplaza.com).

11 March 2010: Tolkien, Race and Cultural History on paperback!

This has been such a hectic academic year, but Easter holiday is coming up and I hope to have more time to keep updating the "News" section more regularly! Meanwhile, here are some news from the last few months:

My book, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, will be re-issued as a paperback in summer 2010! This paperback edition will make my research much more accessible to students and the general Tolkien readership. The retail price of the original, hardback edition was £50 while the paperback edition will only be a fraction of that cost at £16.99. The paperback is already available to pre-order from Amazon here.

Also, two more reviews of my book have been published in the last few months in the journals:

Here are a couple of extracts from these reviews:

This book sets out to examine Tolkien’s writings from a historical perspective, setting his ideas in the context of various currents of thought in the Victorian and Edwardian age. The investigation is wide-ranging, and the results illuminating; for much that seems eccentric and personal in Tolkien’s vision can be explained by reference to cultural history.... Until now, Tolkien has generally been studied in isolation, or as the father of modern fantasy-writing, but this book shows how his work was rooted in the mental world of his contemporaries and the immediately preceding generation. As Tolkien scholarship becomes more analytical, Fimi’s study provides essential new insights.

Jacqueline Simpson, Folklore

What Fimi does in this book is approach Tolkien’s oeuvre with a partly different set of keys from those commonly used in Tolkien studies, some of which Tolkien himself did his best to hide in his own comments on his work. The result is a rich study into Tolkien’s creative impulses and the influences that worked on those impulses in the course of a long creative life... [A]ny reader interested in the work of J. R. R. Tolkien... is in for a treat. The book is intelligently argued and full of interesting ideas and approaches, offering fresh insights into Tolkien’s authorship.

Nils-Lennart Johannesson, English Today

30 October 2009: Festival in the Shire gains Welsh Media attention!

The Welsh media have shown great interest in Festival in the Shire! Yesterday's Western Mail included the article "Tolkien festival to be held in Middle Wales" in which I was quoted, together with the Mark Faith, the man behind the whole Festival.

Also, yesterday evening I was interviewed about Festival in the Shire on the BBC Radio Wales programme Good Evening Wales. I had the opportunity to talk about Tolkien's Welsh connections and inspiration and share the excitement about the Festival next August. You can listen to my interview via "listen again" on the BBC Radio Wales website, or via the link below.

22 October 2009: Festival in the Shire!

A new exciting Tolkien event has just been announced! Festival in the Shire is a conference, exhibition and fair celebrating themes inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, which will be held in mid-Wales, in Machynlleth's historic Y Plas house and grounds between 13 and 15 August 2010.

Festival in the Shire aspires to be one of the most comprehensive events ever held for the fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, with a conference, a collector’s exposition of original art, rare books and memorabilia as well as a large festival with stalls and entertainment. Tolkien literature enthusiasts will have the opportunity to delve deeper into Tolkien's work with a three day conference on 'Welsh influences on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien'. This will feature internationally respected speakers such as Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, Douglas Anderson, John Garth, Colin Duriez and Jane Chance. I am very excited to be part of this very distinguished list of speakers!

The exhibition will showcase rare first editions of Tolkien's books, original art and other Tolkien artefacts. Many of these pieces are from private collections and unlikely to be shown again. In addition to displaying their paintings some of the famous artists who have illustrated Tolkien's books will be present at this event and attendees will have the exciting opportunity to meet them and discuss their work. Artists attending include Roger Garland, Ted Nasmith, Jef Murray, Peter Pracownik and Ruth Lacon.

20 October 2009: Tolkien, Race and Cultural History shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Award 2009

I was delighted to find out that my book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits has been shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award for 2009.

The Katharine Briggs Folklore Award is an annual book prize established by the Folklore Society to encourage the study of folklore and to commemorate the life and work of the distinguished scholar Katharine Mary Briggs (1898-1980; Society president 1969-1972). For the purposes of the award, 'folklore studies' are interpreted broadly, to include all aspects of traditional and popular culture, narrative, beliefs, customs and folk arts, including studies with a literary, anthropological, linguistic, sociological or geographical bias.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 10 November 2009 after the Katharine Briggs Lecture which will be delivered by Professor John Widdowson, former president of The Folklore Society. Needless to say I am very pleased and honoured to have been shortlisted!

15 October 2009: Clash of the Gods - Thanks!

Thanks to all of you who sent e-mails with kind words about "Clash of the Gods": I am pleased you found it informative and engaging. I have still only seen bits and pieces of the three episodes I was in (Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings and Thor) but I should have the DVDs with the complete episodes soon! Meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures and links:

22 September 2009: Clash of the Gods

A new series on world mythologies has been airing in the USA History Channel since late August 2009. The series started with Classical Greek Myths (Zeus, Medusa, Hercules, and others) and the next few episodes are now going to focus on myths and legends from Northern Europe: Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon and the invented mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien. I contributed in these three episodes, the first of which is scheduled to air next Monday. The filming took place last spring and I haven't seen any of the finished episodes, so I am very excited! Here is the schedule for those of you in the USA:

  • 28 September 2009: Beowulf
  • 5 October 2009: The Mythology of The Lord of the Rings
  • 12 October 2009: Thor

All episodes should be available to watch online (only for USA residents) on the History Channel website as soon as they have aired. Also, preview videos are regularly posted on the History Channel facebook page (available worldwide).

If you'd like to see photos from the series, have a look at the production company's (KPI TV) website and KPI's scrapbook.

13 September 2009: Talk on Tolkien and Wales at Pentyrch

On Friday 25 September at 7:30pm at Pentyrch Village Hall at Pentyrch, Cardiff, I will give a talk on "Tolkien's Welsh Inspirations, Language and Places" for the Pentyrch and District Local History Society. Everyone wellcome!

31 August 2009: Classical Education Forum

Many of you will have heard about the closure of all Humanities courses at the Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning last July. These developments left a great number of students disappointed but now there is a new educational institution to answer the demand for courses in Classics, Literature, Art History and many other Humanities disciplines. My colleague Liz Mayor, formerly associate lecturer in Latin at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, has founded the Classical Education Forum, with three venues in Cardiff, in Whitchurch, Thornhill and Llandaff North. The Classical Education Forum is currently offering 38 courses, dayschools and trips across many Humanities disciplines. I am taking part in this new venture by offering two 10-week courses and taking part in the collaborative teaching of a Day School:

The Classical Education Forum has generated some publicity in local news, including articles in the Western Mail and in the South Wales Echo.

1 August 2009: Reviews of Tolkien, Race and Cultural History

In the last few months a number of reviews of my book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits have appeared in various journals and magazines. I was delighted to see the latest one: a review by Jon Barnes for the Times Literary Supplement. Here are some highlights of the latest reviews:

"Dimitra Fimi's Tolkien, Race and Cultural History traces the evolution of the legendarium with admirable care... This scholarly yet approachable book is filled with...surprising fragments."
Jon Barnes, Times Literary Supplement

"Fimi’s study is well worth reading for the specialist as well as (or even more so) for the general reader. The author brings together (often for the first time) relevant research from cultural history and lays out her arguments fair and square... Fimi’s approach...forces us to reconsider some well-beloved clichés. Thus, it will no longer be possible to talk naïvely about the linguistic inspiration of Tolkien’s fiction without adding at least some qualifying remarks... Fimi’s book has given us some answers but has also opened up some avenues for future research. What more can we ask for?"
Thomas Honegger, Tolkien Studies

"No one doubts Tolkien's originality, but Fimi's book allows us to glimpse a kind of creative logic through which his legendarium almost had to happen: a climate welcoming of fairies and folklore; romantic quests of national mythologies; a general interest in language and linguistic invention... Fimi's book reads so well that it's hard to believe that it's an academic tome..."
Henry Gee, Mallorn

10 July 2009: Tolkien Studies Vol. 6

The sixth volume of the journal Tolkien Studies has just been published. As always it contains a great selection of scholarly articles, shorter notes and book reviews on many different aspects of Tolkien's creativity. The leading article is a very insightful discussion of Tolkien as a literary crtaftsman by John D. Rateliff. The journal also includes a previously unpublished note by J.R.R. Tolkien on “Fate and Free Will”, edited by Carl Hostetter. In the same volume Thomas Honegger has reviewed my recently published book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits.

  • For a full table of contents of Tolkien Studies Vol. 6, click here.
  • To read the beginning of Thomas Honegger's review of my book (or the review in its entirety if you subscribe to Project Muse) click here.

15 May 2009: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún has now been released!

The new Tolkien book I mentioned earlier on this year (see 30 January 2009) has now been released! Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a verse retelling of the Völsunga saga, which he originally composed in the 1920s and 1930s. The book was edited by Tolkien's son and literary executor, Christopher Tolkien, and it is bound to become an important text to introduce students to Old Norse literature and culture.

  • To buy this book in hardback click here
  • To buy this book in paperback click here
  • To read Tom Shippey's review of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in The Times Literary Supplement click here
  • To red Marjorie Burns' review of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in The Wall Street Journal click here

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún will also be released as an audio book in August, read by the Scottish multi-award winning actor Brian Cox. For "behind the scenes" video clips from the recordings, as well as more information on the book, watch the promotional video below.

In the light of this new publication the official Tolkien Estate website has been updated. It now includes:

Book Trailer
Promotional Video


30 April 2009: Kenyan women's Lysistrata protest

The BBC reported yesterday that women's activist groups in Kenya have slapped their partners with a week-long sex ban in protest over the infighting plaguing the national unity government. Following this story I was interviewed by the BBC Radio Wales' programme Good Evening Wales on the first anti-violence protest by banning sex ever recorded in literary sources: Aristophanes' play Lysistrata of 411BC.

9 April 2009: Exploring Tolkien: Online Tolkien Course runs again - last time this academic year

My online Tolkien course Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again will run again for the last time this academic year, starting on 27 April 2009. There are still a few places left so if you want to enrol hurry up!

As a student on my online course you will have the opportunity to explore Tolkien’s Middle-earth from your home, in your own time. We will examine the vast mythology behind The Lord of the Rings and you will gain a thorough knowledge of Tolkien’s fiction and its creation by focusing on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. The course focuses on the northern European mythologies that inspired Tolkien’s Middle-earth, especially the creative uses of his sources in Old Norse mythology, Celtic myths and legends, Classical mythology, Shakespeare, and the literary tradition. You will also learn about Tolkien’s ‘invented languages’, their origins and sources, and you will be able to examine Tolkien’s work in its historical context through intellectual history, focusing on the ‘races’ and cultures of Middle-earth.

My online students will also have the opportunity to participate in a lively Discussion Board, which I will be moderating, and they will have full access to Cardiff University’s electronic resources (including such electronic journals as Tolkien Studies and Mythlore and a great number of e-book and reference collections). For those students who are already enrolled in academic programmes, there is the option of doing this course for credits to be used towards their Higher Education Qualifications.

I am also very happy to announce that the Centre for Lifelong Learning can now accept your enrolment and payment completely online!

7 April 2009: Hobbit Songs and Rhymes: The Folklore of Middle-earth

I was recently asked by lotrplaza.com to contribute an article to their new Scholars Forum on a Tolkien-related topic. My recently published book Tolkien, and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits includes an important part on Tolkien's knowledge of folklore as an academic discipline, and his use of folklore material, especially in relation to fairylore. However, in the last few years I had accumulated interesting examples and ideas on the folklore of the hobbits that did not quite make it into my book. The invitation from lotrplaza.com provided a great opportunity to communicate this material. My article, entitled: "Hobbit Songs and Rhymes: The Folklore of Middle-earth" was published a few days ago on the lotrplaza.com Scholars Forum. It was a real joy to write and share!

30 March 2009: Which Lewis in Oxford?

Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis or Robbie Lewis? An Oxford-academic-cum-fantasy-writer, whose “muse” is called Alice; an elderly don (specialist on Lewis Carroll) with secret vices; a girl who literally goes “through the looking glass” (killed by a Persian mirror); and a role-playing-games-obsessed teenager; all figured in episode 1 of the new series of Lewis on ITV, titled “The Allegory of Love” (taken from one of C.S. Lewis’s best-known academic works). Expectedly, the episode included ample references to the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, together with (real and imagined) trivia about them, mostly coming from the mouth of DS James Hathaway, a much more sophisticated character than his DI Robert Lewis who doesn’t have any time for this “historical fancy stuff”. The episode – as is often the case with this series – was a mixture of literary references, plausible and implausible plot threads, and clever lines to illustrate the newly-established relationship between Lewis and Hathaway, a kind of inverted Morse – Lewis duo. Perhaps the best moments of this programme are those that evoke the atmosphere of Oxford, sometimes overtly intellectual and elitist, others haunted and disturbingly dark, and in this episode fertile ground for the imagination of some of the best fantasy writers. The question of why Oxford has generated so many authors of fantasy literature continues to fascinate!

17 February 2009: Do you know your classics?

This morning the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach English Literature because students do not know the Bible or classical mythology. Having encountered very similar problems when teaching classic works like those by Shakespeare or Milton, but also more modern and popular genres like fantasy and modern poetry, this semester I started teaching a new course that is designed to introduce classical mythology to students and also to explore the way the mythical themes have been used in English literature, from medieval to modern. The title of the course is Classical Myths in English Literature, and it is open both to undergraduates and to adult learners. I am also working on writing this course for online delivery so watch this space for a relevant announcement!

Following the poet laureate's comments, BBC Radio Wales' programme Good Evening Wales interviewed me on my experience of students' knowledge of the classics and the Bible.

The painting is "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli, housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

3 February 2009: Tolkien at Kalamazoo

The International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University, is one of the oldest and most prestigious conferences on Medieval Studies in the world. The conference is now in its forty-fourth year, and for the past nine years has featured sessions on Tolkien, including papers and round-table discussions. This year, the conference will take place between the 7th and 10th of May 2009, and the programme has just been made available here. I will be taking part in the roundtable discussion on Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories”, presided by Douglas A. Anderson and Verlyn Flieger, on Saturday 9th May.

30 January 2009: New Tolkien Book: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún

After a long and pretty nasty illness, I am back online to report - somewhat belatedly - some really exciting news!

A new Tolkien book is scheduled to be released in May 2009. HarperCollins will publish Tolkien's retelling of the Völsunga saga, an Old Norse legend of bravery, dragon-slaying, treachery and love. Tolkien's retelling is a work in verse on which he worked in the 1920s and 1930s. The book is to be titled The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, and it will be edited and introduced by Tolkien’s son Christopher.

Tolkien was fascinated by Old Norse myth and legend, and the Völsunga saga left its traces in his creative work, especially in the character of Túrin Turambar, whose story was told in full in the recently published The Children of Húrin. In my online course Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again (already started now, but due to run again in April) I devote a whole Unit on Tolkien's creative uses of Old Norse mythological material, focusing on the Volsunga saga. Tolkien scholars have known for a long time of the existence of Tolkien's verse retelling of the legend of Sigurd and the Volsungs, and its publication is eagerly awaited.

The Völsunga saga has been translated many times and there are numerous translations available to buy. However, one of the early translations of the saga is now in the public domain and you can access, download and read it free of charge. This is the 1888 translation by by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson.

The photograph of the carving of Sigurd slaying the dragon Fafnir comes from the 12th-century wooden panel of the Hylestad Stav Church, in Setesdal, Norway.

7 January 2009: Exploring Tolkien: Online Tolkien Course runs again

First of all Happy New Year to all!

My online Tolkien course Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again will run again for the second time this academic year, starting on 19 January 2009. There are still a few places left so if you want to enrol hurry up!

As a student on my online course you will have the opportunity to explore Tolkien’s Middle-earth from your home, in your own time. We will examine the vast mythology behind The Lord of the Rings and you will gain a thorough knowledge of Tolkien’s fiction and its creation by focusing on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. The course focuses on the northern European mythologies that inspired Tolkien’s Middle-earth, especially the creative uses of his sources in Old Norse mythology, Celtic myths and legends, Classical mythology, Shakespeare, and the literary tradition. You will also learn about Tolkien’s ‘invented languages’, their origins and sources, and you will be able to examine Tolkien’s work in its historical context through intellectual history, focusing on the ‘races’ and cultures of Middle-earth.

My online students will also have the opportunity to participate in a lively Discussion Board, which I will be moderating, and they will have full access to Cardiff University’s electronic resources (including such electronic journals as Tolkien Studies and Mythlore and a great number of e-book and reference collections). For those students who are already enrolled in academic programmes, there is the option of doing this course for credits to be used towards their Higher Education Qualifications.

I am also very happy to announce that the Centre for Lifelong Learning can now accept your enrolment and payment completely online!

10 December 2008: New Choices just published

The Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University has just launched its Spring/Summer 2009 programme of part-time courses for undergraduates and adult learners in the new Choices prospectus. The new Spring/Summer 2009 programme kicks off the New Year with almost 300 courses listed taking place in 27 locations across south east Wales.

The new courses I will be teaching next semester are:

You can browse through all the courses in the new Choices prospectus at the Centre's website, or, alternatively, if you live in the UK you can order a hard copy of the prospectus by clicking here. If you are an undergraduate at Cardiff University you can attend any of these courses as part of your degree. My online course on Tolkien is open to undergraduates and adult learners from anywhere in the world. For more information on my courses please contact me via the contact form here.

3 December 2008: Book Launch

On Friday 28 November at 6pm the official launch of my book, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, took place at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Cardiff University. Dr Juliette Wood introduced me and I then had the opportunity to talk briefly about my book, my research questions, and the need for a serious re-evaluation of "genre" fiction, including fantasy. A cheese and wine reception followed, and the attendees had a chance to flick through the book and get my signature (not as elegant or as valuable as Tolkien's, but I did my best!) It was great to see so many collueagues, as well as former and current students at the book launch! Thanks to all who attended!

Read a detailed report of the book launch at TheOneRing.net website


28 November 2008: Radion Interview with Roy Noble at BBC Radio Wales

Earlier today I was interviewed on the Roy Noble show at BBC Radio Wales and answered questions about my new book, including the links of Tolkien's work with Wales and the Welsh language. To listen to this short interview click here.


24 November 2008:
Tolkien, Race and Cultural History published

My book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. My book aspires to be a major new contribution to Tolkien studies, as it aims to contextualise Tolkien's work, bring to light neglected aspects of Tolkien's imaginative vision and addresses key features of Tolkien's creativity. For more detailed information on the book, including a table of contents and a free sample chapter, please click here.

My book will be given an official launch at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Cardiff University, on Friday 28 November 2008 at 6pm. Also, an article in The Western Mail, published this morning, has delved into the ways my book explores Tolkien's linguistic vision, and especially Tolkien's appreciation and creative use of the Welsh language.


22 September 2008: Exploring Tolkien: Online Tolkien Course

For the third academic year I will be teaching an on-line course on Tolkien taught in 10 weekly units, via the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University. The course is titled Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again, and it will run three times during the 2008-2009 academic year, starting on 6 October 2008, 19 January 2009 and 27 April 2009 respectively. The students will be able to explore Tolkien’s Middle-earth from their home, in their own time. They will examine the vast mythology behind The Lord of the Rings and gain a thorough knowledge of Tolkien’s fiction and its creation by focusing on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. The course will focus on the northern European mythologies that inspired Tolkien’s Middle-earth, especially the creative uses of his sources in Old Norse mythology, Celtic myths and legends Classical mythology, Shakespeare and the literary tradition.

The students of this online course will also learn about Tolkien’s ‘invented languages’, their origins and sources, and they will examine Tolkien’s work in its historical context through intellectual history, focusing on the ‘races’ and cultures of Middle-earth. My online students will also have the opportunity to participate in a lively Discussion Board which I will be moderating and they will have full access to Cardiff University's electronic resources (including such electronic journals as Tolkien Studies and Mythlore and a great number of e-book and reference collections). For those students who are already enrolled in academic programmes, there is the option of doing this course for credits to be used towards their Higher Education Qualifications.To find out more please look at Online Courses under Teaching.

20 September 2008: Book Cover of Tolkien, Race and Cultural History is now online

The dust jacket for my forthcoming book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History is now online on the Palgrave Macmillan website. The photo figuring on the book cover is of my own design, which I created by manipulating a photograph I took recently of Moseley Bog. I chose this "kaleidoscopic" view of Moseley Bog, one of young Tolkien's favourite playgrounds close to Sarehole Mill in Moseley, Birmingham, as an appropriate theme for the book cover as Tolkien often acknowledged this landscape as a source of inspiration and also he was fond of drawing kaleidoscopic heraldic designs and emblems for the Elves and Men of the First Age (see especially examples published in Picture by J.R.R. Tolkien). For more information on the book click on Publications.

15 September 2008: The Ring Goes Ever On: Proceedings of the Tolkien 2005 Conference

The proceedings of Tolkien 2005: The Ring Goes Ever On, a conference organized by the Tolkien Society to celebrate 50 years of The Lord of the Rings which took place at Aston University, Birmingham, on 11-15 August 2005, will be published at the end of September 2008. The proceedings will be published in two volumes, and will contain eleven sections with papers by 95 authors, including Rhona Beare, Marjorie Burns, Colin Duriez, John Garth, Robin Anne Reid, Tom Shippey and Anna Smol. I have contributed the paper: “Material Culture and Materiality in Middle-earth: Tolkien and Archaeology”. For more information, including how to order the proceedings, click here.

15 August 2008:


The fifth volume of the journal Tolkien Studies has just been published. As always it contains a great selection of scholarly articles, shorter notes and book reviews on many different aspects of Tolkien's creativity. The leading article is a masteful contribution by Brian Rosebury on "Revenge and Moral Judgement in Tolkien". The journal also includes two pieces by J.R.R Tolkien: "Chaucer as a Philologist: The Reeve's Tale", a paper read at a meeting of the Philological Society in Oxford in 1931; and "The Reeve's Tale", a version of Chaucer's tale prepared for a recitation at the yearly "Summer Diversions" in Oxford (1939).

In the same volume I have reviewed Ross Smith's book Inside Language: Linguistic and Aesthetic Theory in Tolkien (see under Publications). For a full table of contents of Tolkien Studies Vol. 5, click here. Buy Tolkien Studies 5 from Amazon.

14 July 2008: Fantasy Dragons

In Episode 2 of the current series of University Challenge, Corpus Christi College, Oxford successfully answered the following three questions posed by Jeremy Paxman:
• Kalessin, who transports Ged and Arren to Roke is the oldest dragon in works by Ursula Le Guin set in which world?
• In Tolkien’s The Silmarillion which dragon is described as the first of the Urulóki, the fire-drakes of the North?
• In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone what is the name of the Norwegian Ridgeback dragon that Hagrid illegally breeds?
Do you know the answers?

5 July 2008: Choices Online

The new Autumn 2008 programme offered by Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning is now online here. A hard copy of Choices will be available soon. To see my courses for the academic year 2008-2009 go to Teaching.

1 July 2008: Tolkien on Fairy-Stories

A new expanded edition of Tolkien's essay "On Fairy-Stories" has just been published, edited by Douglas Anderson and Verlyn Flieger. The book includes previously unpublished versions of the essay, rejected passages, as well as a critical study of the history and writing of the text. Buy this book from Amazon.

1 June 2008: Space, Time, Machine and Monster

A science fiction, fantasy and horror conference, organised by Academi, will take place on Saturday 21 June 2008. Space, Time, Machine and Monster: A Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Conference for the Valleys will be held at the University of Glamorgan, Treforest, 10:00am - 4:30pm (tickets £5 / £3 concessions, available on the door only). I will give a half-hour talk on "Tolkien’s Science Fiction Experiments". Download the conference programme here.

25 March 2008: Tales Before Narnia

Following the successful Tales Before Tolkien, Douglas Anderson has now edited a wonderful collection of tales that inspired C.S. Lewis, entitled Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction. This delightful anthology includes stories by Roger Lancelyn Green, E. Nesbit, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Dickens, Kenneth Grahame, G. K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald.

15 January 2008: Tolkien, Race and Cultural History

My book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in Autumn 2008. For more information see Publications.

30 November 2007: Old Norse Made New

A collection of essays entitled Old Norse Made New: Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture, edited by David Clark and Carl Phelpstead, has been published by the Viking Society for Northern Research. The essays investigate the reinvention of Old Norse-Icelandic literature and culture by writers in English from the eighteenth century to the present day, from Thomas Gray to Tolkien and beyond. You can find a presentation of the book here. I have contributed the essay: "Tolkien and Old Norse Antiquity: Real and Romantic Links in Material Culture" (see Publications). Buy this book from Amazon.