I was checking out a database today and found a dissertation that
might answer this question -- it's an overview of Tolkien criticism
by Dan Timmons, who was at Mythcon and interviewed several of us for
his forthcoming documentary:
Title: MIRROR ON MIDDLE-EARTH: J. R. R. TOLKIEN AND THE CRITICAL
PERSPECTIVES (TOLKIEN, J. R. R. )
Author(s): TIMMONS, DANIEL PATRICK
Institution: UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (CANADA); 0779
Advisor: Adviser: JOANNA DUTKA
Source: DAI, 60, no. 01A, (1998): 0143
Standard No: ISBN: 0-612-35342-7
Abstract: This dissertation evaluates the commentary on J. R. R.
Tolkien, which includes the author's self-criticism. Commonly-held
views of Tolkien reception, such as that there is a large body
of "hostile" criticism or that relatively few "serious" studies
exist, are misinformed. Rather than being concerned about the
presence of negative or adulatory views of Tolkien, scholars should
acknowledge the potential problems in adopting Tolkien's comments on
his own works, especially since many of these remarks are slippery or
possibly disingenuous. Still, as the varied and numerous critical
perspectives on Tolkien indicate, for sixty years scholars have
recognized the literary depths and merits of the author's writings.
The first part of the dissertation examines the elusive literary
concept "fantasy" and the premises of "Tolkienian fantasy;" this
analysis sets the context for the discussion of the scholarship on
Middle-earth. Next, the study evaluates the first major period in
Tolkien criticism, which starts with reviews of The Hobbit in 1937
and ends at the publication of the second edition of The Lord of the
Rings in 1965. In the years following the publication of the Middle-
earth tales, Tolkien provided commentaries on the creative
inspirations behind them. The dissertation assesses the initial block
of Tolkien's self-criticism, such as his article "Tolkien on Tolkien."
The next major period of commentary comprises studies published
between 1966 and 1976 (the year before the initial publication of The
Silmarillion ). The dissertation then examines another significant
block of Tolkien's self-criticism, which includes the collection of
his letters. The last chapter provides an assessment of the current
state of the extensive and diverse commentary on Tolkien.
Therefore, the customary labels for Tolkien criticism, such
as "hostile" vs. "laudatory" or "popular" vs. "serious," are more
misleading than representative. While there may be starkly differing
views of Tolkien and uncertainty as to whether he is considered
a "canonical" author, his writings remain among the most widely read
and consistently admired works of literature of the twentieth century.
--- In mythsoc@y..., "Michael Martinez" <michael@x> wrote:
> --- In mythsoc@y..., "Ted Sherman" <tedsherman@h...> wrote:
> > From the current Chronicle of Higher Education.
> I know many academics. A lot of them are aware of Tolkien and love
> him. I don't know of any who fall into the category of anti-
> Tolkienists that these familiar (and well-respected) names refer to
> in the generic sense.
> For once, I'd like to see a roundup article of the other side. We
> have people like Chris Mooney running around pretending Tolkien is
> worth beating up on, but why can't the media find the academics who
> turn their noses up at Tolkien?
> Can anyone suggest a recent article from the last 4-5 years where
> several of the anti-Tolkienists are cited?
> Preferably one online, but I need to find out where Houston hides
> libraries anyway.