Friday, May 17, 2019

Kalamazoo 2019 Report

𝔗he Tales after Tolkien Society continued its work at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the form of a business meeting and two paper panels. Notes about each appear below.

The Meeting

Per §5.1 of the Society Constitution, an Annual General Meeting of the Tales after Tolkien Society was held during the 2019 Congress. It was called to order at 5:38pm local time in Fetzer 2030. Geoffrey B. Elliott, Society President, presided; Rachel Cooper, Society Secretary, recorded minutes. (The meeting report derives from the minutes.) Also present, by signature, was Carrie Pagels.

Formal agenda items to be considered were 1) elections to the office of Vice-President (USA) and Social Media Officer and 2) panels to be proposed for the 2020 Congress. Added to the agenda during proceedings were responses to the boycott of the Congress by a number of medievalists of color and a call to reach out to other organizations and independent and contingent scholars.

Regarding elections:
  • For the office of Vice-President (USA), there was one nominee: incumbent Luke Shelton. Shelton was acclaimed to the position; the Society extends its congratulations to him.
  • For the office of Social Media Officer, there were two nominees: incumbent Luke Shelton and Society Secretary Rachel Cooper. A voice vote elected Cooper to the position; the Society extends its congratulations to her and thanks Shelton for his service in the position.
Regarding panel proposals:
  • Proposed initially by the Society President were two panels, one following up on the Afterlives of Medieval Religion panel presented at the 2019 Congress, and one looking into medievalism in non-traditional-to-the-Congress media. After discussion, other proposals were accepted.
  • Proposed by Carrie Pagels were two panels, ultimately accepted for submission to the 2020 Congress:
    • Deadscapes: Wastelands, Necropoli, and Other Tolkien-Inspired Places of Death, Decay, and Corruption--a paper session examining depictions of what comes in the wake of war and death in works in the Tolkienian tradition; Carrie Pagels has offered to preside over the session.
    • Legacies of Tolkien's Whiteness in Contemporary Medievalisms--a roundtable session examining the continuing effects of Tolkien's depictions of race in medievalist works; Society Secretary Rachel Cooper has offered to preside over the session.
  • The Society President will draft and submit the required forms to the Congress for consideration. Fuller CFPs are forthcoming.
Regarding a response to the boycott:
  • The Tales after Tolkien Society affirms its desire to be an inclusive and accommodating organization, with membership open to all; we welcome and encourage participation from those traditionally underrepresented and underserved by traditional academic and institutional structures, including but not limited to women, scholars of color, LGBTQIA+ scholars, scholars with disabilities, and persons excluded from tenure-track positions and protections. The Society additionally repudiates, in the strongest terms, discrimination based on those qualities, whatever its source.
Regarding outreach:
  • Discussion of the need for additional support for contingent and independent scholars occurred. Some motion to coordinate with other organizations, such as the Game Culture Society and the Lone Medievalist Collective, was made. Mention was also made of the need to do more to make materials available through such organizations to scholars working without more traditional institutional support.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:12pm local time.

The Panels

Two panels were on offer, both meeting on Sunday morning in Fetzer 2016. The first, The Legacy of Tolkien's Medievalism in Contemporary Works, occurred during the 8:30 session. There were two papers, Benjamin C. Parker's "Caines Cynne in Azeroth: Tolkien's Medievalism in the Warcraft Series" and Rachel Cooper's "Diluting Divinity: Connecting Genesis to Diablo by way of Numenor"; the Society President presided. Benjamin C. Parker is a doctoral candidate and graduate assistant at Northern Illinois University specializing in the study of the Inklings and of nineteenth- and twentieth-century utopian and dystopian literature. Rachel Cooper is, as noted above, the Society Secretary and Social Media Officer.

The second, Afterlives of Medieval Religion in Contemporary Works, took place during the 10:30 session. There were two papers, Brett Roscoe's "The Postsecular Afterlife of Saint Winifred in Eiils Peters' A Morbid Taste for Bones" and Geoffrey B. Elliott's "Manifestations of Medieval Religion in Robin Hobb's Elderlings Corpus"; Society Secretary and Social Media Officer Rachel Cooper presided. Brett Roscoe is Assistant Professor of English at The King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). His primary research interests are in Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English wisdom literature and cognitive approaches to literature, but he is also interested in intersections of literature and theology, especially in the works of the Inklings. Geoffrey B. Elliott is, as noted above, the Society President.

Owing to the timing of the panels, attendance was limited, but audience members were engaged with the works presented. It is hoped that future panels will receive similar engagement--and that they will be at times when more may attend!

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