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Shadow and Flame: Myth, Monsters, and Mother Nature in Middle-earth

Join us for a fascinating talk with Dr. Kris Larsen, on Wednesday, November 12, from 7:00-8:00 pm in the Burritt Library classroom (third floor, Reference)

 

 

Fear, especially of the unknown, is a universally shared emotion, as famed fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien understood well. Like Middle-earth, our everyday world is filled with uncertainty and peril, including natural forces such as earthquakes and volcanoes. With the benefit of modern science, we can understand these terrifying events as being part of the normal process of the world. Our ancient ancestors, however, enjoyed no such luxury, and described these catastrophic events in terms of monsters and malicious gods. Likewise, unusual astronomical events such as meteors, eclipses, and auroras were also considered to be “monstrous.”  Geologist Dorothy Vitaliano coined the term geomythology in 1968 to describe the scientific truth hidden in some seemingly fantastical myths concerning the natural environment. Given that Tolkien clearly stated that Middle-earth is our Earth, and that the natural environment itself plays the role of a major character in his works, it is not surprising that we should find a large body of monster-centered geomythology (and corresponding astromythology) within the pages of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Join us on an exploration of the intersection between fact, fiction, and myth in the world of Middle-earth.

 

Free refreshments will be served.

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