Tolkien’s Medievalism in Ruins: The Function of Relics and Ruins in Middle-earth (Part 1) (Panel)


British / Comparative Literature

Nick Katsiadas (Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania)

Carl Sell (University of Pittsburgh)

Many notable scholars have probed the motif of ruins in ancient and medieval texts: Alain Schnapp, Alan Lupack, Geoffrey Ashe, and Richard Barber read the poetics of ruins in Latin poetry, the Exeter Book, and Arthuriana. Scholars working outside of the Classical and Middle ages have also examined how this topos persists in literary periods up through the Renaissance, Romanticism, and to today. In short, the structural and symbolic purposes of ruins in literary texts have a long history, and the literary-critical history of engaging these poetics influences our interests in presentations grounded in reading the relationships between ruins and Tolkien’s legendarium. It is time for a formal study on the topic, and we are pleased to welcome proposals from a variety of theoretical approaches for a special session at the 54th Annual Northeast Modern Language Association.

This panel seeks to deepen the awareness and importance of ruins in J. R. R. Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth while simultaneously focusing on how Tolkien’s vision of history functions within and outside of the Middle Ages.