- The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies 2015
Introduction [David Bratman]
Ecocriticism, described last year as a growth field in Tolkien studies ("The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies 2014," Tolkien Studies 14 : 211), continued to flourish in 2015, in the form of an anthology in the field, Representations of Nature in Middle-earth, edited by Martin Simonson (Zurich: Walking Tree, 2015) and several other articles on closely related topics. Similarly, gender studies, another field of Tolkien studies that's been around for a while but is attracting new interest, proved both its venerability and its currency with the publication of Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie A. Donovan (Altadena, CA: Mythopoeic Press, 2015), a book containing seven new essays and seven reprints, most of the latter from the decade of the 2000s, though the two most important (mentioned in the writeup on the book) date from 1992 and 1984. Here, also, the topic's papers spread beyond the anthology.
Croft and Donovan each also edited one other important theme anthology of the year. Donovan's Approaches to Teaching Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Other Works (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2015) is a large collection of brief essays that also forms the center of a constellation of other writings on the topic, all of which are covered here under "Reception and Adaptation." Croft's Baptism of Fire: The Birth of the Modern British Fantastic in World War I (Altadena, CA: Mythopoeic Press, 2015) is not limited to Tolkien, but seven of its 17 essays concern his works, three of which are reprints and four of which are new; these are covered under "General Literary Criticism" and "Gender Studies."
The most substantive more general anthology of the year was Tolkien Among the Moderns, edited by Ralph C. Wood (Notre Dame, [End Page 265] IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015). From this title, one might expect a collection of papers for "General Literary Studies" or "Source and Comparative," but while some of its papers are dealt with there, Wood's interest is more on Tolkien's relationship with the moral philosophy of modernism, and consequently the bulk of the book is considered under "Religious and Ethical." Journeys & Destinations: Proceedings of the 22nd Tolkien Society Seminar, Sir John Soane's Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, June 27th 2009, edited by Ian Collier (Wolverhampton, UK: Tolkien Society, 2015), is a brief collection sticking only nominally to its stated theme of journeying. Forgotten Leaves: Essays from a Smial, edited by Jessica Burke and Anthony Burdge (Staten Island, NY: Myth Ink Books, 2015), is a collection of essays, most of them not of academic provenance, given at conferences of the New York Tolkien Society. This book appeared in two editions, unmarked as such in the forematter. The revised edition adds an index by Nicholas Birns, a credit appearing on the title page of that edition. The smaller physical size of the revised edition (22 cm. high instead of 23 cm.) and in some places a larger typeface result in a different pagination of most of the essays and that, together with the index, makes the revised edition 285 pages instead of 270 (the last numbered page being otherwise blank in both editions). The two editions may also be distinguished by their ISBNs, the revised edition being 9781534923461 and the first edition 9781514130902. The present survey gives the paginations of the revised edition only.
Monographs were a quieter than usual field this year, notable mostly for books that, like Wood's Tolkien Among the Moderns, placed Tolkien in context. Several books treated him in conjunction with C.S. Lewis, including two on his and Tolkien's literary friendship circle, the Inklings, of which The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, by Philip and Carol Zaleski, received the 2017 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies. The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, by Jamie Williamson, places...