sally_maria: (TS Sleep)
wrong but wromantic ([personal profile] sally_maria) wrote2016-09-12 04:45 pm


Oxonmoot is the Tolkien Society's annual social/academic event, held in Oxford in September for over 40 years. (This was my 19th, but I know there are those on my flist who've been going rather longer.)

It's been a highlight of my year almost from the beginning - a chance to spend the weekend with friends, to learn, to relax and to stay up far too late and try unusual alcohol. :-)

Well, how else would you describe them?

There were many interesting papers given on a wide range of Tolkien-related topics, and I didn't manage to get to anything like all of them.

One of the highlights of the weekend is normally going to be any paper given by Dimitra Fimi - she's an eminent Tolkien scholar, but also a lovely person, who has a real gift for making her papers relevant to a knowledgeable but not necessarily academic audience.

This year she talked about reviews Tolkien wrote for the Year's Work in English Studies in the 1920s, and was able to put it into context, as the kind of work academics do early in their career, to boost their publication record and hopefully make their stamp in their chosen field. Comparing the three pieces across the years, the increase in confidence, not to say snark :-) is displayed clearly. A number of papers were filmed, so hopefully this one will go online soon. In the meantime, this was the paper she gave last year, on childhood in Middle-earth.

Speaking of film, another absorbing session was a showing of Tolkien's Great War - a video about Tolkien, his school friends and their stories, including biographer John Garth and modern-day teachers from King Edward's School. If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend it.

What made this year even better than usual, though, was a special performance of Leaf by Niggle, by Richard Medrington and the Puppet State Theatre Company, just for us. The work involved in getting the dining hall set up as a theatre space (and taking it down afterwards) was considerable, but it was so worth it. It was a lovely, moving, and thought-provoking version, one actor, some family heirlooms and Tolkien's text presented almost complete. Another speaker, Joel Cornah, had talked earlier in the day about the importance of getting the "voice" right in any Tolkien adaptation, and this very much did.

If you get the chance to see it (and at the moment it seems to be touring mostly in Scotland), I'd say you really should - it's just wonderful, both as an adaptation and a piece of theatre.