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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

"At the Root of the Tree of Tales": Mythmoot Presentation

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

"At the Root of the Tree of Tales": Mythmoot Presentation

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The full title (which DW will not let me post in its entirety) is "At the Root of the Tree of Tales:
Using Comparative Myth and 'On Fairy-Stories' to Analyze Tolkien's Cosmogony." This is a video of me reading--very exciting!--my paper at Mythmoot today. I hope the paper is more interesting than 17 minutes of watching me read, part of the time obscured by my computer before Bobby realized and moved the camera. ;)

Anyway, the YouTube summary, which I will reuse because I am too tired to make new, is:

This paper, presented at the Mythmoot II conference in Baltimore on 15 December 2013, looks at J.R.R. Tolkien's creation story, the "Ainulindale," in comparison to other world creation myths. The paper touches on similarities between Tolkien's story and other myths and the reasons for those connections but emphasizes how the differences--particularly the use of subcreation and creation through music--emphasize themes of integral importance to Tolkien's fictional world and life as an author.

If you'd rather listen to the paper as a podfic, the audio file is on the SWG here. If anyone wants a copy of the paper, email me at DawnFelagund@gmail.com; it will eventually be published in the conference proceedings (which I believe are going to be publicly available and which I will naturally link to when they are).

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • You look very nice. I'm going to send you an email asking for the final version. I may need to cite you sometime. Probably not this month--nothing about dragons in it.

    Nice work, Dawn. Congrats again.
    • Thank you! I hope the conference proceedings are out soon, which should make citation easier. I haven't forgotten the Flieger book, by the way--just ran out of time and decided to wait till the new year! (I'm sitting in the airport now so it will have to wait till the new year.)
  • I listened to it all. You are awesome! Very well written essay. I appreciated your comparison of Tolkien's creation story with others, the idea that he melded Christianity and Norse mythology has often struck me when reading it and when attempting to work with his mythos. I've read that he was trying to create a mythos for the English, which he felt was sadly lacking compared to other cultures. I'm amazed the extent to which he succeeded in that goal, certainly if he were alive now, his success would be beyond his wildest dreams. I appreciated your discussion of On Fairy Stories and the role of artist as sub-creator as well as your mention of fanfiction and other derivative and transformative endeavors, enabling us to participate in the music of the Creation.

    Bravo, dude!

    Btw, thanks to whoever raised the camera so we could see you.
    • Thank you! Creation stories fascinate me, so this piece grew out of a research paper I wrote for one of my classes that involved attaining David Leeming's 600-page encyclopedia of creation stories, which is a very distracting book to have on my virtual bookshelf. ;) I loved researching it and was pretty surprised to see how little had been done with this idea, aside from many people commenting about biblical parallels that they never really bothered to prove.

      Bobby fixed the camera. The setup was odd in that the wire connecting my laptop to the projector was very short. I needed to see the laptop but could move it quite out of the way so that I was in view with the camera on the tabletop. So my good husband held the camera up for the whole presentation. :)
  • Yay! Congratulations on an excellent essay. Were there questions and debate afterwards? Did you get to know a lot of great people?

    As elfscribe said, thank goodness Bobby finally realised we weren't interested in the laptop lid but in his wife! :o) I'd love the final version of the article, when it's ready to share.
  • Very nice! Congrats on a successful presentation (I listened to it last night). To echo Russa, I'm curious as to any questions/discussion.
  • I had the pleasure of listening to this in person :) She did a fantastic job, of course! Presenting a paper in 15 min. is a challenge. Some people just prepare an 8-page summary of their topic that they sit there and read with no visuals, but Dawn had an AWESOME powerpoint to assist in illustrating what she was talking about. Such a great balance of references to Tolkien's work and great, thoughtful commentary from other sources. I feel that academic attention on Tolkien's work is most useful when it brings in outside knowledge that helps to illuminate the text, and Dawn's paper did just that by focusing on the types of creation myths out there and how the uniqueness of what Tolkien did in his calls attention to what message he wanted to impart (essentially, sub-creationists/artists rock ;) ).

    There were two other papers presented in this track - one also about the Ainulindale (with a focus on the Biblical correlations), and one on death/mortality touching on the Athrabeth, Numenor, and Aragorn/Arwen. The question session was at the end, so on all three at once.

    So glad I got to be there for this! :D
  • OH - here is the answer to my question! So I will watch this at some point during upcoming vacation. :D
  • This comment is rather belated, but I didn't get to watching your presentation until now. What a great topic. I especially like the examination of sub-creation at different levels, including Tolkien himself as sub-creator (whose creation goes beyond what he had planned/envisioned...I think many of us can relate, and IMHO the Ainur would be able to relate as well). Well done!
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