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DTG Tolkien Seminar

27 oktober 2023 - 29 oktober 2023

With other eyes: The Visualisation of Tolkien’s Work

Call for Papers for the 19th DTG Tolkien Seminar
(27-29 October 2023, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany)


Paper requirements

Tolkien himself often sketched places and landscapes during the writing process in order to visualise his literary descriptions. His illustrations for The Hobbit as well as the iconic maps of Middle-earth attest to the high value he placed on visualising and concretising his secondary world. Soon after their publication, his works were also illustrated by other artists or inspired them to create paintings depicting scenes from Tolkien’s tales. Alan Lee and John Howe are probably the best-known visual artists of this category, and as ‘chief conceptual designers’ for Peter Jacksons films, they have shaped the vision of Middle-earth of millions of people – which is currently both reinforced and challenged by the Amazon series Rings of Power. Furthermore, there have always been artists who found their own approach to Tolkien’s work and sometimes create interpretations through visual representation (see, for example, Jay Johnstone’s painting ‘Isildur’).

The aim of this seminar is to bring together researchers from different disciplines and fields to explore the different approaches to visualising Tolkien’s work. Possible starting points for lectures could be:

  • From Rankin & Bass’ The Hobbit (1977) and Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings (1978) to Amazon’s The Rings of Power (2022- ): The visualisation of Tolkien’s work on screen.
  • International book illustrations
  • ‘Stand-alone’ artworks from paintings to origami
  • Evil and ugly: The representation of Orcs in film and performing arts.
  • Noble and majestic: the depiction of the Elves in opposition to the ‘fairies’.
  • Graphic novels (e.g. David Wenzel’s The Hobbit)
  • Fan art
  • Maps between structural element and ornament
  • The representation of Middle-earth in video games (e.g. Lord of the Rings Online), board games, tabletops and RPG.
  • Visualisation in Cosplay, LARP and Re-enactment

Seminar and entry informations

The 19th Seminar of the German Tolkien Society is supported by Walking Tree Publishers and will take place in a hybrid format (predominantly in person but with online options) at the Seminar for English Philology at the Georg-August-University Göttingen on 27-29 October 2023.

Interested applicants are requested to send a short abstract (no longer than one page) and a short biography as well as their preference (attendance in person or online presentation) to Thomas Fornet-Ponse by 30 May 2023:

Selected publications on the topic

  • Bushell, Sally. 2016. ‘Paratext or Imagetext? Interpreting the Fictional Map.’ Word & Image 32.2: 181-194.
  • Day, David. 1979. A Tolkien Bestiary. London: Mitchell Beazley.
  • Day, David. 1993. Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia. London: Mitchell Beazley.
  • Ekman, Stefan. 2013. Here Be Dragons. Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Ferré, Vincent and Frédéric Manfrin (eds.). 2019. Tolkien. Voyage en Terre du Milieu. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France /Christian Bourgois editeur.
  • Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. 1995. J.R.R. Tolkien. Artist & Illustrator. London: HarperCollins.
  • Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. 2011. The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. London: HarperCollins.
  • Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. 2015. The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. London: HarperCollins.
  • Honegger, Thomas. 2018. ‘Commentary.’ Jay Johnstone. Tolkienography: Isildur’s Bane & Iconic Interpretation with Commentary from Thomas Honegger. Limited edition (500 copies)., 11-45. [Freely available on]
  • Kowalski, Jesse (ed.). 2020. Enchanted. A History of Fantasy Illustration. Norman Rockwell Museum. New York and London: Abbeville Press Publishers.
  • MacLeod, Jeffrey J. and Anna Smol. ‘Visualizing the Word: Tolkien as Artist and Writer.’ Tolkien Studies 14 (2017): 115-131.
  • McIlwaine, Catherine (ed.). 2018. Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. Oxford: Bodleian Library.
  • McIlwaine, Catherine (ed.). 2018. Tolkien Treasures. Oxford: Bodleian Library.
  • Merriner, Joel. 2021. ‘A Bridge Invisible. Motif Borrowing and Dislocation in Soviet Bloc Illustrations for The Lord of the Rings.’ Paper given at the Tolkien Society Seminar ‘Translating and Illustrating Tolkien’ on 06 November 2021.
  • Sundmark, Björn. 2017. ‘Mapping Middle-earth.’ In Nina Goga and Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (eds.). 2017. Maps and Mapping in Children’s Literature: Landscapes, Seascapes and Cityscapes. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, 221-237.
  • Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. 1979. Pictures by JRR Tolkien. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  • Wenzel, David. 2000. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit. Graphic novel. Revised edition. First edition 1990. London: HarperCollins.


27 oktober 2023
29 oktober 2023
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