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Re: [mythsoc] Re: J. Chance / Tolkien Encyclopedia

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  • Walter Padgett
    Thanks, Larry. I agree with everything. You re right. A dose of reality is in order. Perhaps even a toxic dose would be appropriate in my case. But...
    Message 1 of 57 , Nov 30, 2006
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      Thanks, Larry.

      I agree with everything. You're right. A dose of reality is in
      order. Perhaps even a toxic dose would be appropriate in my case.

      But... Well...

      I guess I should say that I think of Dr. J. Chance as a Post-modernist.

      The word "breeder" is a little out of line, I agree. But I was
      probably unconsciously connoting her son, a scholar, himself. She is
      an educator, and that is enough to restate what I meant. I don't seek
      to defend her, in any way. She has inspired me, and that is all.
      Personally, I think she is great: end of comment on her.

      I say she is a bit beyond our reckoning because I haven't read her own
      scholarship closely or cited it specifically in my thesis. I haven't
      seen any real criticism of her scholarly writing on this list, either.
      We may bring her critical scholarly writings into our reckoning, but
      I think it would take a real post-modern treatment, something like
      Brian Rosebury's approach.

      The record of "offense" on this list is quite sparse. I am sorry for
      any such interpretations of my comments. They were quite unintended,
      as I am sure you will agree.

      The thing is that we all want Tolkien Studies to grow. We all want to
      produce our own works that are inspired by Tolkien, and we want to be
      respected and rewarded for our skills and our work. It is the
      production and coordination of these, our separate contributions to
      the field, that is in question at this point in the game.

      Question: if we were to make a movie of Tolkien's Silmarillion, and
      everyone on this list contributed to it, and everyone's name got
      listed on the credits that roll down the screen in the last few
      hundred frames of the film, what then? Would any of us be satisfied.
      What if nobody got paid? What if everyone hated the film, and nobody
      was interested in seeing it, and the producers and distribution
      company lost everything? What then? Would it be worth it, anyway?

      What do you think?

      There are no better Tolkienian linguists than Arden Smith and Carl
      Hostetter, so far as I know. Why not let them conclusively answer
      questions that they can address with their impressive skills? They
      are only to eager to do so.

      In my opinion, there is no better illustrator of Tolkien's World than
      Ted Nasmith. Why shouldn't he have complete control of the visuals in
      any movie about Tolkien's Silmarillion?

      These are questions that can be addressed now.

      The Daemonic or "diamonic" issue is especially interesting. We have
      this list, and our ability to communicate clearly on it to thank for
      such resolutions, as you term Merlin's account.

      At the Blackwelder conference, I approached T.A. Shippey, just after
      his presentation. We were in the hallway out front of the auditorium,
      which was full of budding Tolkien scholars, or whatever you want to
      call the attendees of his presentation.

      It was just he and I and a couple of onlookers. I introduced myself
      to him as Walter Padgett, a grad student in Humanities at Indiana
      State University. He posed himself and looked to the left and right,
      shaking my hand warmly and looking me in the eye.

      I told him that I had a question for him, which I should have asked in
      the auditorium, during the part of his presentation which entertains
      questions from the audience. But I explained that I wasn't able to
      formulate my question quickly enough to ask it before his presentation
      ended. He understood and asked for the question.

      I said something like the following to him: "You mentioned the power
      of old traditional tales in your presentation. The power of the same
      stories to arise over and over again in different cultures over long
      periods of time, Dr. Shippey. What is that power?"

      He answered: "Well, I don't know, really. Tolkien had a word for it.
      He called it daemonic power. He talked about it in the Notion Club

      I made my quick and scribbly notes while listening to the giant, and
      said OK, and I thanked him. Others were starting to vie for his

      Later I thought he said "Morgoth's Ring" or something else, and I
      couldn't decipher my note about where the discussion could be found.
      Drats! But I knew it had to be in HomE somewhere. Little did I
      realize that Shippey had provided a discussion of it in his own book.
      I never was able to approach him again to clarify this issue.

      Instead, I began a discussion with Jane Chance, who had taken a spot
      in the front hall and was entertaining some enthusiasts. I approached
      her with my hand out to shake hers. We had a most edifying
      conversation. She said that I seemed familiar to her, and I explained
      that I had sent her an email, and that she had responded to it. She
      apologized if it were a bit rude or trite, and I assured her that it
      had been most encouraging. It was. I asked her about her syllabus,
      and told her of the bounty I had culled from Robley Evans' work. She
      responded that he hadn't satisfied her as a source for her coursework.
      That was it. "OK"

      We talked for a long while, and others began to join us. Finally, a
      man with several books approached her from the rear and asked to know
      if she had seen any of the works he presented to the small group. I
      made my exit, thanking her again with a few brief words.

      And then I started a discussion with Richard C. West. Nasmith,
      Bratman, Foster (who I had lunch with), Rateliff, Garth, A. Smith,
      Hammond & Scull, etc., they were all there. I actually got to ride
      in an elevator with Arden Smith and John Garth. Can you imagine what
      a thrill that was? And I hadn't even read Garth's biography _Tolkien
      and the Great War_, yet. Rateliff and Garth gave me copies of their
      papers that they presented on the spot. Bratman mailed his to me
      shortly afterward. Nasmith said "Hi" to me! Really... "Hi." Mike
      Foster introduced me, and I had lunch with the Heron Istarion couple
      from New York City. What a trip!

      That was it.

      I left that afternoon for another destination. I had to go. I had no
      choice. It was a sacrifice, but it was part of the plan for that trip
      to Wisconsin, and I had to leave, even though my wife tried to
      persuade me to cancel our other objective. I couldn't do it. I owed
      a friend, and I had to leave before the evening of the first day of
      that conference even began to commence.

      That's all I saw of that conference. That's all I got out of it.

      Besides my close conversation with Bratman, I can't say anything else
      about what happened at that conference. I saw the exhibits, and I was
      there the night before for the lecture in the art gallery. I paid for
      my one day.

      I wouldn't trade that experience for an offer to direct the next movie
      of _The Hobbit_. No Way.

      What a great day!

      On 11/29/06, Larry Swain <theswain@...> wrote:
      > Well, no one else seems inclined or willing to respond to this, so I will.
      > >
      > > The thing about Chance is that she has been there and done that.
      > > Think about it. Look at her web page.
      > Walter, I appreciate the high esteem in which you hold Chance, but I think you need a dose of reality. She's been out there in academia for over 30 years now, it would be in fact rather a shock if her CV were not impressive, at least on screen. Many here on this list also have been in the "workforce", some in academia, some in closely related fields, some in other fields entirely, for 30 years or more and have equally impressive CVs and resumes. In your spirited, and unnecessary, defense of Chance appealing to her CV, don't forget or offer insult to those who have equally impressive credentials.
      > > She is not just a Tolkien scholar.
      > What Tolkien scholar is?
      > She does lot's of other stuff, and
      > > she has done everything else she is doing, and she's done it for a
      > > long time.
      > So have many others....what's your point?
      > >
      > > She is a breeder of Tolkien scholars, yes.
      > She is? I personally don't know of anyone who went to Rice and did a Tolkien PhD who now is out there publishing on Tolkien. Perhaps someone else on the list does, or you yourself perhaps. BTW, I think Jane would probably strenuously object to being called a "breeder", even of Tolkien scholars. She has certainly made venues available for Tolkien scholarship to happen (edited books, conference sessions at K'zoo, etc), but "bred" Tolkien scholars? HMMM, maybe.
      > But she has nurtured so
      > > many other untold students in other sub-fields of the academic
      > > discipline of English and Humanities.
      > Which given her job as a professor at Rice, is what one would expect her to do, otherwise methinks there might be a big problem.
      > > She is a bit beyond our reckoning.
      > Now here you've really put your foot into it. How is she beyond our reckoning? That she has done well for a person in her position, ok. Some on this list have done so as well; more importantly, I could list a number of senior scholars of Chance's age and experience whose CVs are MUCH more impressive, though they aren't Tolkien scholars. A person can be impressive on paper without being "beyond our reckoning."
      > > She is a ground-breaker, a pioneer, in all of her work.
      > I cry "BOVINE FECES!!" Again, no disrespect to Jane but where is she a ground-breaker or a pioneer? She is hardly the first female scholar, much less the first female scholar in Anglo-Saxon studies OR in Tolkien studies. She certainly isn't the first person to apply feminist criticism to either medieval texts or to Tolkien. She certainly isn't the first person, much less first scholar whose gender happens to be female, to head up a series of books on a subject at a respected press, even a series of books on women. Nor is she the first or the last to offer sessions at medieval conferences on TOlkien and edit them into a book....just where is she ground-breaking?
      > > Let us not be too hasty to render any kind of judgement until we have
      > > walked a mile in her shoes.
      > >
      > > Check her website again. I offer anyone on this list a challenge to
      > > simply read and understand all its pages.
      > Ok, as a professional medievalist, specialization Old English/Anglo-Latin, what is it specifically on her page that I'm not supposed to understand? I confess that I'm not much into modern adaptations of Arthur, but one of my editors at The Heroic Age was a consultant on the Arthur movie a few years back, in fact the movie was loosely based on one of her theories (developed with another scholar). Does that count?
      > >
      > > NO. It's not all about Tolkien. Neither does M.D.C. Droudt limit his
      > > scholarly inquiries to Tolkien's works and all that is connected to
      > > them. In fact, you can't just do Tolkien and make a career in
      > > academia.
      > Largely true. The exception that I know, and others will no doubt correct me, was Paul Nolan Hyde who if memory serves did his dissertation on Tolkienian linguistics, and taught linguistics while continuing his Tolkien studies. I suppose you could say that teaching Intro to Linguistics and the like is not "just doing Tolkien" but I don't know that he published widely on non-Tolkienian linguistics anywhere. As I said though, others on this list know better and will no doubt correct me.
      > > Not now, not ever.
      > To a degree true, and not unusual. Unless one does Shakespeare or Milton or one or two others of the greats and is working at a top tier research institution, one isn't going to be able to make a career on one's specialization. Even as a medievalist, it is a rare thing these days to have a job specifically advertised for an Old English specialization (and never as a specialist in Aelfric or Bede or Alfred!), so the Anglo-Saxonist must also be a general medievalist as must the Chaucerian, the Langland specialist and so on (and regrettably most like to forget those 12th and 13th century pieces!)
      > But I do forsee the day before I die of an endowed chair in Tolkien studies.....
      > Anyway, Walter, I appreciate that you have been effected and inspired by Chance's Tolkien work. But in defending what you perceive as an attack on her, which in my case it wasn't, do try not to offend everyone else on the list!
      > Larry Swain
      > BTW, did you see that Merlin resolved your daimonic problem?
      > >
      > > Thanks, Walter.
      > >
      > >
      > > On 11/28/06, Larry Swain <theswain@...> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > Merlin wrote:
      > > >
      > > > > Walter Padgett's remarks on Jane Chance notably emphasized not only
      > > > > her scholarship but also her influence, which perhaps can be more
      > > > > objectively measured than the quality of her work. A gesture in
      > > > > that direction: in the "J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia", to which
      > > > > Chance is not a contributor, she is the seventh-most frequently
      > > > > cited author in the entry bibliographies, with six or seven titles
      > > > > (depending on how you count – one entry's bibliography lists an
      > > > > individual chapter from one of her books) garnering a total of 47
      > > > > citations.
      > > >
      > > > I wonder though how many of these citations or references are to
      > > > HER WORK, i. e. something she herself has written, in contrast to
      > > > something she has edited. Both will tell us about influence, but
      > > > certainly different kinds of influence.
      > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > Not counting Tolkien himself, the most cited author is Tom Shippey,
      > > > > with 196 citations of 24 works, followed by Humphrey Carpenter with
      > > > > 114 citations of three works. The encyclopedia's 30 most-cited
      > > > > authors (running down to Karen Fonstad with twelve citations of one
      > > > > work) are listed here:
      > > > >
      > > > > http://www.theonering.net/rumour_mill/rpg/viewer/readingroom/454F137C
      > > > > 00025F9B.html
      > > > >
      > > > > where there are also lists of the 1,374 works cited in the
      > > > > bibliographies, the 537 entries and their authors, the thirteen
      > > > > contributors who wrote ten or more entries, and the twenty longest
      > > > > articles – the last item roughly estimated. (I'm not sure how to
      > > > > post a link in this message, so you may have to cut and paste the
      > > > > address, which also is long and may have broken across the line of
      > > > > the message. Sorry.)
      > > >
      > > > Thank you!!
      > > >
      > > > I would hope to buy this thing someday, or at least have access. *SIGH*
      > > >
      > > > Larry Swain
      > > >
      > > > --
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      > >
      > >
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    • Diane Joy Baker
      Well said; I ve little love for PoMo. Off topic, anyway, and I prefer to discuss lit crit and literature I *like.* ---djb ... From: Jason Fisher To:
      Message 57 of 57 , Dec 4, 2006
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        Well said; I've little love for PoMo. Off topic, anyway, and I prefer to discuss lit crit and literature I *like.* ---djb

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Jason Fisher
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, December 01, 2006 11:57 AM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Re: J. Chance / Tolkien Encyclopedia

        --- William Cloud Hicklin wrote:
        > The basic procedure for PoMo critical analysis:
        > Step 1) Find something in the text which might be vaguely
        > political
        > Step 2) Construct thereon a "political viewpoint" for the work
        > Step 3) Attack the author's politics
        > Extra credit if the politics marginalize a recognized victim
        > group.
        > Double extra credit if the "political viewpoint" is wildly
        > anachronistic.

        LOL, nicely done. I smell a new Foucault/Derrida drinking game in the offing. :)

        (This is verging on going off-topic, if it hasn't already, but I had to comment.)

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