Reading Tolkien in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
University of Bonn
contact email: 


Reading Tolkien in the 21st Century
(7–8 September, 2023 – University of Bonn, Germany)

On 2 September 1973, one of the most famous and beloved authors of fantasy literature passed away. Fifty years after J.R.R. Tolkien’s death, his works continue to resonate with readers and scholars alike and to be debated from all sorts of angles. Especially the portrayal of gender and concepts of race have been discussed increasingly critically, while scholars interested in ecocriticism are intrigued by Tolkien’s tributes to trees and nature in general. His novels The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) are considered milestones in the history of the genre and have given rise to very popular filmic adaptations. Middle-earth and its denizens are still ubiquitous in today’s popular culture, be it in fan fiction, role playing games or memes. The recent Amazon production The Rings of Power (2022) seeks to expand the fictional world created by Tolkien. Even though Tolkien’s works have already been examined from many different angles and theoretical vantage points, we believe that there is more to explore and to discuss. Thus, to commemorate Tolkien and to foster the ongoing discussion of his literary legacy, we invite proposals for 20-minute papers for a conference dedicated to the author’s works. The conference will take place at the University of Bonn (Germany) on 7 and 8 September, 2023. Papers may address any aspect of Tolkien’s works or his legacy, but we invite especially contributions that

• explore new facets of his literary texts, including lesser-known writings such as Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wooton Major, or Roverandom, or

• compare Tolkien’s works with those of other (earlier, contemporary or later) fantasy authors and thus contribute to clarifying the role played by Tolkien in the history of fantasy as a genre.

Please, send proposals of approx. 250 words (including your full name and affiliation) by 15 April, 2023 to Selected papers will be published in an edited volume.

Prof. Dr. Marion Gymnich, Dr. Klaus Scheunemann, Denise Burkhard, M.A., Franziska Rakebrandt, M.A., and Constanze Wessel, M.A. (Department of English, American and Celtic Studies, University of Bonn)