My MA thesis is titled “‘They always wished to talk to everything’: Recovering the Border-walking Mystics of Middle-earth.” It extends my previous work by investigating spiritual, interpersonal, and ecological écart in Middle-earth, mobilizing Tolkien’s ventures into mysticism and his portrayal of the ecstatic experience to discuss his navigation of the difficulties and impulses that arise as a result of the aforementioned “gaps.” It is a project that reflects my growing investment in philosophy, critical theory, and ecocriticism, and invites conversations surrounding Tolkien’s work into dialogue with theoretical trends of today, a move which is often neglected by Tolkien scholars. My goal is to enrich both Tolkien Studies and critical theory discourses by allowing them to interact and challenge each other in ways that have been traditionally overlooked. The thesis is now finished (May 2019), but I plan to excerpt specific chapters and publish these as independent articles.
“Interface and the Problem of Tolkien’s Manuscripts.”
This project explores the problem of graphics and interface that arise when considering the manuscripts and drafts of J.R.R. Tolkien, as presented in The History of Middle-earth volumes curated by Christopher Tolkien. How are readers supposed to approach this material, culled from a variety of formats and in various stages of development and completion? Scholars and fans alike take the posthumous publications to be authoritative, but where does one draw the line? Is looking at a transcribed document equivalent to looking at the real thing? How did Christopher Tolkien “translate” marginalia and in-manuscript editing into a readable format without sacrificing the nature of the text he was dealing with, and what happens to the information the passages he was forced to pass over as “illegible”? How does one represent, in a printed text, a passage that has been crossed out, re-written, and then returned to its original state? How do these questions translate in the digital age? (Access more detail here.)
“Nationalism and Empire in Where the Forest Murmurs.”
This paper looks at the fraught relationship between ethno-nationalism, imperial identity, racialization, and eco-paganism in the posthumous nature-essay collection of Scottish author William Sharp (1855-1905).
“‘They swore an oath that none shall break’: Tolkien’s Tale of Oathtaking, Fate-bonds, and the Power of Language.”
This paper investigates the infamous Oath of Fëanor in The Silmarillion, comparing it to other instances of oathtaking in the Middle-earth legendarium and arguing that throughout the narrative, the Oath is instantiated as a living thing and as such cannot be understood in traditional frameworks.
“Exploring the People of Middle-earth”
This blog series, which I’m writing for Tor.com, will look at the development of various characters in the Middle-earth legendarium. It incorporates textual history as well as character analysis, and is aimed at fans and scholars alike. Here’s a link to my author page!