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20496RE: [mythsoc] Tolkien, women, gender and brain-picking

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  • Croft, Janet B.
    May 8, 2009
      I�m very intrigued by the idea that �owyn is more typical of Tolkien�s women in general than the other women in LotR � that has potential to be a fantastic �hook� and organizing principle.

      I'm sure many here would anti-recommend (dis-recommend?) Fredrick and McBride's _Women Among the Inklings,_ though you may want to assign a reading as an example of somewhat blinkered thinking on Tolkien and women! I seem to recall Catharine Stimpson�s _J.R.R. Tolkien_ was also pretty wrong-headed. And then there's the infamous

      Partridge, Brenda. "No Sex Please -- We're Hobbits: The Construction of Female Sexuality in the Lord of the Rings." J.R.R. Tolkien: This Far Land. Ed. Robert Giddings. London: Vision, 1983. 179-97. (I believe this is the one claiming the fight with Shelob symbolized female rape of Sam and Frodo�)

      As a corrective, consider this one:

      Timmons, Daniel. �Hobbit Sex and Sensuality in The Lord of the Rings.� Mythlore 23.3 (#89) (2001): 70-79.
      Refutes critics who see no evidence of mature sexuality in Tolkien�s Middle-earth by examining the distinction between sex and sensuality, and by describing depictions of romantic and married love in contrast to matelessness.

      And a couple of other anti:

      Doughan, David. �Tolkien, Sayers, Sex and Gender.� Mythlore 21.2 (#80) (1992): 356-359.
      Tolkien�s expressed �loathing� for Dorothy Sayers and her novels Gaudy Night and Busman�s Honeymoon is remarkable considering that Sayers is generally considered to belong to the same milieu as the Inklings. Possible reasons for this are the contrast between the orthodox Catholic Tolkien�s view of male sexuality as inherently sinful, requiring �great mortification,� and Sayers�s frankly hedonistic approach. Another reason may be Sayers�s depiction of an independent Oxford women�s college getting by successfully without men, and her representation of marriage as a source of intellectual frustration for creative women.

      Fredrick, Candice, and Sam McBride. �Battling the Woman Warrior: Females and Combat in Tolkien and Lewis.� Mythlore 25.3/4 (#97/98) (2007): 29-42.
      Examines women in combat in a number of Tolkien�s and Lewis�s works, finding that their portrayals have one thing in common: battles are ugly when women fight.

      On the other hand, these are some of the positive ones. I HIGHLY recommend the first three--very enlightening.

      Donovan, Leslie A. "The Valkyrie Reflex in J.R.R. Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings: Galadriel, Shelob, Eowyn, and Arwen." Tolkien the Medievalist. Ed. Jane Chance. London: Routledge, 2003. 106-32.

      Thum, Mareen. "Hidden in Plain View: Strategizing Unconventionality in Shakespeare's and Tolkien's Portraits of Women." Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language. Ed. Janet Brennan Croft. Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy #2. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2007. 229-50.

      Rawls, Melanie. �The Feminine Principle in Tolkien.� Mythlore 10.4 (#38) (1984): 5-13.
      Explores the interaction of Masculine and Feminine principles (gender as opposed to sex) in Tolkien�s Middle-earth, showing how the balance of the principles within a character is an important factor in his or her place in the struggle of good and evil, evil resulting in many cases from an imbalance of these principles.

      Armstrong, Helen. �Good Guys, Bad Guys, Fantasy and Reality.� Mythlore 21.2 (#80) (1996): 247-252.
      Considers the nature of some of the stylized �evil� and �good� character types in Middle-earth, and their relationship to folklore and contemporary life. Considers the role of women, particularly as mothers and heroic figures. Relates these observations to the underlying conflict between longing for permanence and the recognition of inevitable change.

      Basso, Ann McCauley. �Fair Lady Goldberry, Daughter of the River.� Mythlore 27.1/2 (#103/104) (2008): 137-146.
      Examines Goldberry as an intermediary figure between noble or ethereal female characters like Galadriel and �owyn and everyday women like Rosie Cotton, and shows how her relationship with Tom provides Sam with a paradigm for the ideal marriage. Considers Goldberry an Eve-like figure.

      Fenwick, Mac. �Breastplates of Silk: Homeric Women in The Lord of the Rings.� Mythlore 21.3 (#96) (1996): 17-23, 50.
      Notes parallels between women characters in Homer�s Odyssey and Tolkien�s The Lord of the Rings, especially Circe, Calypso, and Galadriel. All assist the hero and give him gifts which allow him to defeat female monsters such as the Sirens and Shelob.

      Fife, Ernelle. �Wise Warriors in Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling.� Mythlore 25.1/2 (#95/96) (2006): 147-162.
      Discusses the concept of the wise woman warrior, focusing primarily on �owyn, Orual, and Hermione Granger but bringing in other characters from the works of Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling as well.

      Hopkins, Lisa. �Female Authority Figures in the Works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.� Mythlore 21.2 (#80) (1996): 364-366.
      The powerful, learned woman is a figure of fear in the works of Williams, seen as transgressing her proper role. In Lewis, legitimate authority figures are male, illegitimate ones are female, and gender roles are strictly demarcated. Tolkien, however, not only creates powerful and heroic women, but also suggests that the combination of authority and femininity can be particularly potent and talismanic.

      Kane, Doug C. �Reconstructing Arda: Of F�anor and the Unchaining of Melkor.� Mythlore 27.1/2 (#103/104) (2008): 9-19.
      Discusses Tolkien�s Silmarillion and how it was constructed from the materials later published in the twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, in particular the version of �Of F�anor and the Unchaining of Melkor� in the published Silmarillion compared with the source material given in Morgoth�s Ring. The author finds intriguing patterns in what Christopher Tolkien used and did not use from the original material. (Particularly what was left out about some of the women, though see Jason Fisher's review of Kan'e book in ML 105/106 for a quibble on this point)

      Hatcher, Melissa McCrory. �Finding Woman�s Role in The Lord of the Rings.� Mythlore 25.3/4 (#97/98) (2007): 43-54.
      Offers an opposing viewpoint on the �taming� of the woman warrior in Tolkien, suggesting that �owyn�s rejection of the warrior�s life is a fulfillment of Tolkien�s theme of healing and rebirth rather than a subjection to a male partner.

      Johnson, Brent D. ��owyn�s Grief.� Mythlore 27.3/4 (#105/106)(2009): 117-127. (This issue is in the mail right now)
      Adds to the scholarly dialogue on Tolkien�s depiction of war-related mental trauma by examining �owyn not as an example of post-traumatic stress disorder, but as a character suffering from, and beginning to recover from, traumatic grief. Emphasizes the role of Faramir as counselor and healer. Johnson�s experience as a military chaplain gives added strength to his observations.

      Smith, Melissa. �At Home and Abroad: �owyn�s Two-fold Figuring as War Bride in The Lord of the Rings.� Mythlore 26.1/2 (#99/100) (2007): 161-172.
      A reading of �owyn as a war-bride, providing new insights into her relationships with both Aragorn and Faramir and into the challenges facing war-brides throughout history. Considers her as the left-behind war bride in her interactions with Aragorn, and as the war bride accompanying her husband to a new country with Faramir.

      And these, on the differing role of women in the Jackson movies:

      Thum, Mareen. "The "Sub-Subcreation" of Galadriel, Arwen and Eowyn: Women of Power in Tolkien's and Jackson's the Lord of the Rings." Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's the Lord of the Rings. Ed. Janet Brennan Croft. Altadena CA: The Mythopoeic Press, 2004. 231-56.

      Chance, Jane. "Tolkien's Women (and Men): The Films and the Book." Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's the Lord of the Rings. Ed. Janet Brennan Croft. Altadena CA: The Mythopoeic Press, 2004. 175-94.

      Gaydosik, Victoria. ""Crimes against the Book?" the Transformation of Tolkien's Arwen from Page to Screen and the Abandonment of the Psyche Archetype." Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's the Lord of the Rings. Ed. Janet Brennan Croft. Altadena CA: The Mythopoeic Press, 2004. 215-30.

      Akers-Jordan, Cathy. "Fairy Princess or Tragic Heroine? The Metamophosis of Arwen Undomiel in Peter Jackson's the Lord of the Rings Films." Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's the Lord of the Rings. Ed. Janet Brennan Croft. Altadena CA: The Mythopoeic Press, 2004. 195-214.

      And some I have in my bibliographic file, but I can't remember which side of the debate they fell on:

      Davies, Lin. ""My Hand Is Ungentle": �owyn and the Women of Middle-Earth." Amon Hen.195 (2005): 13-16.

      Green, William H. ""Where's Mama?" the Construction of the Feminine in the Hobbit." Lion and the Unicorn 22.2 (1998): 188-95.

      We�ve also had some good papers on the early life of Galadriel in the last few years which might be useful:

      Carter, Susan. �Galadriel and Morgan le Fey: Tolkien�s Redemption of the Lady of the Lacuna.� Mythlore 25.3/4 (#97/98) (2007): 71-89.
      Looks at Galadriel�s role in the text of The Lord of the Rings�specifically at what is not revealed about her there�finding parallels with the treatment of Morgan le Fey in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the Middle English texts with which Tolkien was most associated as a scholar.

      Lakowski, Romuald Ian. �The Fall and Repentance of Galadriel.� Mythlore 25.3/4 (#97/98) (2007): 91-116.
      Fills in some of the gaps of Galadriel�s depiction in The Lord of the Rings with a close examination of her history throughout the development of Tolkien�s legendarium, and particularly Tolkien�s evolving conception of her rebellion and redemption.

      And this all reminds me I need to be working on MY presentation, too!

      Oh, and consider this another plug for the Mythlore Index, folks. Very handy to have around!

      Janet Brennan Croft
      Associate Professor
      Head of Access Services
      University of Oklahoma Libraries
      Bizzell 104NW
      Norman OK 73019
      Fax 405-325-7618
      Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html
      Editor of Oklahoma Librarian
      "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape
      meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett
      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Edith Crowe [correspondence@...]
      Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 3:31 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [mythsoc] Tolkien, women, gender and brain-picking

      I'm one of the presenters at the NEH-funded institute "J. R. R. Tolkien's
      The Lord of the Rings: The Real and the Imagined Middle Ages" at UT-Commerce
      this summer. I'm supposed to be the gender expert, although where they got
      that notion I have no idea. But hey, who turns down a free trip to Commerce,
      Texas in August? (See
      http://community.livejournal.com/lotr_middleages/886.html if you wish, but
      please be advised I did not write the blurb attached to my name, and its
      hyperbole makes me by turns appalled and hysterical.)

      I hereby humbly request that fellow scholars and aficionados help me out by
      answering the following:
      What do you think are the best and worst things written on the topic of
      Tolkien and women/gender/the feminine, etc. in Tolkien's work (and
      preferably why)? In addition (or instead of) what are the most widely held
      wrong-headed notions about the previous topics held by scholars or the
      general public?

      I have some notions of my own but this group is more widely read and
      variously opinionated than my head by itself. I just got a first deadline of
      June 1 for handouts to be copied, so I am suddenly more highly motivated
      than heretofore, and your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
      Replies can be sent to me at correspondence@...<mailto:correspondence%40mythsoc.org> or shared with the
      list if you like.
      Edith Crowe, Corresponding Secretary
      The Mythopoeic Society
      http://www.mythsoc.org | correspondence@...<mailto:correspondence%40mythsoc.org>

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