CfP: Tolkien’s Romantic Resonances

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Saturday 6th July
(Free Hybrid Event) Hilton Leeds City

As early as The Book of Lost Tales (1910s-1930s) Tolkien’s prose and poetry was infused with elements of the stylistics, aesthetics, and philosophies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantics. Although it has been shown that Tolkien learnt about and read a range of Romantic works, his dialogue with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief” in ‘On Fairy-stories’ has dominated the intersections between Romantic and Tolkien studies. This has overshadowed the role that Romantic influences played in the shaping of Middle-earth, as well as the Romantic legacies in Victorian literature and art that had a significant impact on Tolkien’s writing. While Tolkien clearly rejected certain forms of Romanticism, he worked within a literary tradition that was partially shaped by the Romantics.

This seminar seeks fresh and innovative readings of Tolkien’s Romantic Resonances that are in dialogue with modern scholarship on Romanticisms, Romantic aesthetics and Romantic-period histories. The seminar understands ‘Romanticism’ and the ‘Romantic’ as complex, nuanced terms that elude simplification, traditional historical markers, and solely Anglocentric readings. We welcome proposals that address the broader application of the terms.

Papers may address but are in no way limited to the following topics:

  • Parallels between Tolkien’s narratives and artistic, musical, philosophical, European, transatlantic, Nordic, and global Romanticisms
  • Underexplored relationships between Tolkien’s works and British Romantic-period writing
  • Mediations and transformations of Romantic aesthetics and stylistics in Tolkien’s writings
  • Tolkien’s rejections of Romanticism and the Romantic
  • Links between the Romantics, Victorians, and Tolkien
  • Parallels between Tolkien’s works and Romantic philosophies
  • Romantic resonances in adaptations and receptions of Tolkien
  • Tolkien’s inheritance of Romantic medievalism, myth, and nation building
  • Tolkien’s negotiations with the Romantic Gothic and antiquarian traditions
  • Applications of Romantic irony
  • Romantic theories of nature and the imagination in Tolkien’s writings


Proposals should be no more than 300 words and biographies no more than 100 words. An additional box has been provided for proposed bibliographies if you wish to include one. The deadline for the call for papers is end of day Thursday 29th February 2024. Paper proposals should be submitted here.

More info:
The Tolkien Society Seminar is a short conference of both researcher-led and non-academic presentations on a specific theme pertaining to Tolkien scholarship.The Society held three seminars in 2021 (Twenty-first Century Receptions of Tolkien, Tolkien and Diversity, and Translating and Illustrating Tolkien) and their online setting has seen increased interest with over 700 attendees from 52 countries at ‘Tolkien and Diversity’. After the seminar, all paper recordings from the seminars are uploaded onto the Tolkien Society’s YouTube channel. We are delighted to run hybrid seminars where delegates can enjoy discussions on Tolkien in person and online.