22 August 2012

Tolkien: The Forest and the City

Image: Sheena Power - Baglady design

Trinity College Dublin’s School of English will be holding a Tolkien conference on September 21 and 22, featuring a Keynote Address ("The Goths and the Romans in Tolkien's Imagination") from Professor Tom Shippey (St. Louis University, emeritus).

Invited Lecturers include:

  • Professor Michael D. C. Drout (Wheaton College):  ‘The Tower and the Ruin: The Past in Tolkien’
  • Professor Verlyn Flieger (University of Maryland): ‘Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Sentient Landscape in Tolkien's Fiction.’
  • Professor Thomas Honegger (University of Jena): ‘”Raw Forest” and the “Cooked City” Lévi-Strauss in Middle-earth’
  • Professor Alison Milbank (University of Nottingham): 'In a Dark Wood: Tolkien and Dante’’

Papers Include:

  • Ms. Meg Black: ‘The Party Tree and its Roots in the Spanish Civil War’
  • Dr. Jane Carroll (Trinity College Dublin): ‘On the Edge of Ruin: Unexpected Pleasures in Unexpected Places in The Lord of the Rings’’
  • Dr. Dimitra Fimi (Cardiff Metropolitan University):  ‘Wildman of the Woods: Inscribing Tragedy on the Landscape of Middle –earth in The Children of Hurin’
  • Ms. Jennifer Harwood-Smith (Trinity College Dublin):  ‘Fractured Cities: the Twinning of Tolkien's Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul with Fritz Lang's Metropolis."
  • Gerard Hynes, (Trinity College Dublin): ‘The Cedar has Fallen: Empire, Deforestation, and the Fall of Numenor’
  • Ian Kinane (Trinity College Dublin): ‘Less Noise, More Green: Cultural Materialism and the Reverse Discourse of the Forest in Tolkien’s The Hobbit’
  • Karl Kinsella (Keble College Oxford): ‘A Preference for Round Windows: Architectural Description in Lord of the Rings’
  • Ms. Rebecca Merkelbach (Clare College Cambridge): ‘Deeper and Deeper into the Wood: Forests as Places of Transformation in The Lord of the Rings’
  • Ms. Dominika Nycz: ‘The Forest and the City: The Dichotomy of Tolkien’s Istari’
  • Dr. Erin Sebo (Trinity College Dublin): ‘Liminal Cities? The Location of Riddle Contests in The Hobbit'

For more information, visit the college’s Tolkien events page.

Tolkien Gets Crater on Mercury; Hobbit, LOTR Among Top 100 YA Novels

Tolkien Gets Crater on Mercury

Photo: NASA/MESSENGER (Retrieved from International Science Times)

Not only has he been immortalised through his books, but now J.R.R. Tolkien has been immortalised on a cosmic scale after his name was added, along with eight other international artists, to the list of surface features on the innermost planet of our solar system. All craters are located near Mercury’s northern pole, with the Tolkien crater being around 30 miles in diameter and extremely close in proximity to the pole.  

"Formal names make it easier to communicate scientific findings about specific regions and features," said MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon. "The second, equally important reason is that these designations expand the opportunities to recognize the contributions to the arts by the most creative individuals from many cultures and eras."

"The names of those individuals are now linked in perpetuity to the innermost planet."

The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Among Top 100 Young Adult Novels

In a list of the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels published earlier this month, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit came in at Number 5, with The Lord of the Rings taking 7th. Other books on the list include the Harry Potter series (coming in first place), Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Hunger Games.

Riders of Rohan Launch Delayed

Earlier this morning, Turbine released a statement via Executive Producer Kate Paiz explaining their decision:
We’ve had a very successful Beta program with some of the largest and most active beta player populations we’ve seen since Moria. The amount and quality of feedback on our largest expansion ever has been fantastic.

Thanks to some great efforts from beta players, we’ve identified issues that we think need to be addressed before we can launch. In order to address those issues and meet our expectations for quality we’re going to need more time. As a result, we’ve elected to delay our launch to October 15th.

We understand that many players have been looking forward to joining us in Rohan as soon as possible and will be disappointed by this news. As a token of our appreciation for your patience we are granting a gift to all pre-purchasers of Riders of Rohan.

We thank you for your feedback and patience and hope to see you all in Rohan in October.

As a result of the delay, players who have pre-purchased The Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan will receive 500 Turbine Points and a goodie bag of consumables. Points will be awarded automatically and a code will be sent to players that have pre-purchased Riders of Rohan, The code will be redeemable from around September 5th to any account that has pre-purchased by that date. 

The goodie bag will contain the following items –

100% XP Boost (1hr)
Slayer Deed Accelerators x1 (60 min)
+20% Renown (3 hours)
+20% Mount Speed (1 hour)
Tome of Defence
Scroll of Finesse
While it is a long time to wait, I'm glad Turbine will not be releasing a lesser-quality game just to meet the original launch date. I am also relatively excited about this delay, as it will give me more than enough time to get my current character (level 68) to the level cap before the expansion's launch.

What do you think about the delay? Share your thoughts below!

21 August 2012

Interested in Taking a Course on Tolkien This Fall?

This semester, you can! Both the Cardiff Metropolitan University and Mythgard Institute are offering exciting courses on Tolkien for their fall 2012 semesters.

Cardiff Metropolitan University

The Cardiff Metropolitan University is offering two short courses on J.R.R. Tolkien, both taught by the renowned Dr. Dimitra Fimi:

  • Fantasy Literature: Tales Before and After Tolkien - In this twelve-week course, students will explore the world of fantasy literature, beginning with its Victorian roots and ending with a look at fantasy in contemporary popular culture. The course will explore the impact of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on the genre; debate whether science fantasy exists as a sub-genre; discuss the future of fantasy as both a literary and popular culture genre; and more.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth and Middle-earth in Context - This twelve-week course will examine Tolkien’s legendarium, from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to The Silmarillion, including an exploration of his inspiration, his invented languages and alphabets, his portrayal of the various races and cultures of Middle-earth, and his continuing influence on popular culture.  

To register for one of these courses (or for more information), visit the University’s Tolkien and Fantasy Online Courses page

Mythgard Institute and Signum University

As was previously reported, the Mythgard Institute and Signum University have three exciting courses available this fall.

  • Science Fiction, Part I - Taught by award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis, this course will focus on the literary genre which the late Ray Bradbury described as "the most important literature in the history of the world." 
  • The Story of The Hobbit - Taught by Dr. Corey Olsen "the Tolkien Professor," and featuring guest lecturers John D. Rateliff and Douglas A. Anderson, this course will focus on the growth and development of JRR Tolkien's classic children's story, and discuss its adaptation to film. 
  • Elementary Latin II - This course, offered through Signum University and taught by Dr. Philip Walsh, will complete the introductory Latin courses, providing students with an understanding of the basic elements of the language, such as grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.

Registration has been extended until the second week of classes – the new deadline is September 8th.

To register now or get more information, visit Mythgard’s Enrollment page.  

First Look at Radagast

Photo: Heirs of Durin
While the sixteen month Hobbit calendar is not listed for release until October 1, one fan site – the Heirs of Durin (ThorinOakenshield.net) – was able to purchase a copy directly from the manufacturer, receiving both the wall calendar and the Special Scroll edition (a collection of four scrolls, featuring miniature wall calendars on one side and a poster on the other).

The calendar includes previously unseen images of the Dwarves, Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas, Gandalf, Bilbo, and – for the first time – Radagast the Brown (played by Sylvester McCoy). The Brown Wizard can be seen holding a staff topped with a blue crystal.

Hobbit Village to be Built in Sweden

Many thanks to reader César for pointing this story out!

Photo: Drömgården 
If you’ve ever wanted to live in a village similar to those of Tolkien’s hobbits, then look no further. Such a village is being planned for a Stockholm island, according to its developers. 

“Living in a hobbit house is the smart and sustainable way to live in the future,” said John Higson, the co-founder of Drömgården.

Founded in 2011 by John Higson and his wife, Drömgården – located on the island of Muskö – was built as a self-sustainable, eco-friendly farm and village. After hearing about Simon Dale, who had built a hobbit home for his family in Wales, they were inspired to build their own.

“Seeing Simon’s houses blew me away,” said Higson. “They’re beautiful, unique and completely sustainable, and what a fantastic way to live.

“I’ve always enjoyed living a little bit differently. The idea of just a hobbit style village came from talking to other people interested in being part of Drömgården.” 

The Swedish versions of these houses will be constructed using natural materials – straw, clay, and timber – and will be built on the edge of a forest.  
“Hardly anyone has been there in years as it was a restricted area site owned by the military,” said Higson. “So nature has taken over and made it a perfect hobbit territory.”

In addition to providing people living in the countryside with a sustainable way of life, Drömgården allows people to become part owners of the buildings there, allowing them to own a small part of the community while being able to reside there for whatever amount of time they wish.

“Why pay for having a countryside house standing empty most of the year, when you can use your hard earned kronor for what you really need?”

Approximately sixteen houses are currently planned, the first of which is expected to see completion by the end of this year. These homes will be constructed under the supervision of Simon Dale.

“People will be invited to join Simon Dale to plan their houses, but we’re debating as to whether it would be a good idea to build a pub first,” Higson said. 

“You can't have a hobbit village without a pub.”

For more information on Drömgården, visit their website.

12 August 2012

Only 8 Days Left to Register for Fall Courses at Mythgard and Signum

Have you previously taken a course at Mythgard and were left craving more? Or maybe you haven't, but are interested in taking one now. This fall, the Mythgard Institute is offering three exciting fall courses:

  • Science Fiction, Part I - Taught by award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis, this course will focus on the literary genre which the late Ray Bradbury described as "the most important literature in the history of the world." 
  • The Story of The Hobbit - Taught by Dr. Corey Olsen "the Tolkien Professor," and featuring guest lecturers John D. Rateliff and Douglas A. Anderson, this course will focus on the growth and development of JRR Tolkien's classic children's story, and discuss its adaptation to film. 
  • Elementary Latin II - This course, offered through Signum University and taught by Dr. Philip Walsh, will complete the introductory Latin courses, providing students with an understanding of the basic elements of the language, such as grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. 

    For more information on these courses, visit Mythgard's Fall 2012 Courses.

    Enroll Now!

    There are only eight days left to register for one of these exciting fall courses, so don't delay! 

    Remember, you can take these courses at the college level (for M.A. credit), or you can audit them. To enroll for a course, please visit Mythgard's Enrollment page, and visit their Enrollment FAQ page for any additional information.

    You can also give the Gift of Learning to a friend or loved one who may be interested in taking or auditing a course.

    08 August 2012

    Andy Serkis: Martin Freeman 'Unpredictable'

    Photo: Empire Magazine

    Though Andy Serkis insists that actor Martin Freeman is “brilliant” at being directed, he adds that the actor enjoyed putting his own spin on the character of Bilbo Baggins.  

    ''You just don't know what you are going to get,” he said. “Yet he's brilliant at taking direction. There's a rhythm that one works with Martin. He likes to try it his way and then you start saying, 'What about this?' When he gets it, it's gold. And it's so totally Bilbo.''

    Freeman believes that Bilbo is more “comedic” than his cousin Frodo, adding, ''He's lighter, I would say. For black-and-white purposes he's more comic. It's a more comedic ... journey.''

    ''I like the fact he is brave,” he told Empire Magazine, “to go from a fairly peaceful existence where people roam about quite nicely, to a place where he could be eaten - that's a proper thing for him.

    ''It's a well loved character, so don't f**k with it too much.''

    Andy Serkis' Gollum Issues

    Ten years after bringing Gollum to life in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, actor Andy Serkis says he’s found some difficultly in reprising that role.

    “For the first couple of days it felt like I was doing an impersonation of a character I once played because there had been so many parodies and jokes.”

    “Everyone else has owned him for so long. I was trying to find the emotional core again, get away from the impression - to bring him back.” 

    But it wasn’t just the voice which proved difficult, but the fast-paced action scenes as well.

    “He has lived on his own in this cave in the misty mountains for about 400 years,” he told Empire Magazine. “440 years, to be precise - 60 years before 'Lord of the Rings.' 

    “He's only a little bit younger, really, not that much more sprightly. More to the point, I'm 12 years older so he's definitely not much more sprightly.”

    Third Hobbit Film 'Great News'

    With additional filming for the second and third films scheduled for next year, The Hobbit (a $639 million project) will feature more details on Bilbo and the dwarves, key battles, and the rise of the Necromancer (Sauron). 

    Now that fans – who set the Internet abuzz with questions following the announcement of a Hobbit trilogy – have some of their answers, the next question posed is: How will a third Hobbit film affect businesses and the local NZ economy?

    According to the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce, a third Hobbit movie will be extremely beneficial to the capital’s economy and exposure; the extra filming and post-production will create additional jobs, says policy manager Jeremy Harding.

    By splitting The Hobbit into three films, international tourism dividends for Queenstown, Otago, and other filming locations will be spread over more years than initially anticipated.  

    Graham Budd, chief executive of Destination Queenstown, called the expansion of the two Hobbit films into a trilogy “great news.”

    "Tourism New Zealand have a huge programme of activity built around The Hobbit movies and have worked very closely with Warner Bros," he said. 

    "We're working with them as part of their project to leverage off The Hobbit."
    David Gatward-Ferguson, co-owner of Nomad Safaris, noted that like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit trilogy’s December release is normally too late for people to make summer travel plans.

    "It's a big trip,” he said, “and it's still seen as a once in a lifetime trip, so you've got to do bit of planning and thought around it.

     "My only concern is, and I hope there won't be, Hobbit fatigue,” he added. “The Hobbit is quite a short story in itself and to make it into two movies is something, even with the appendices, and to make it into three great movies, he's got quite a lot of work to do.

     "But we're talking about Sir Pete here and, overall, we're really, really pleased for Queenstown."

    01 August 2012

    Possible Titles for Third Hobbit Movie

     Many thanks to reader Marcelo for pointing this information out to me!

    New Line Cinema has registered eight new domains for the third 'Hobbit' film, with Warner Bros. registering the following film titles:

    • The Desolation of Smaug
    • The Battle of Five Armies
    • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    • The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

    Although these titles have been registered, it does mean that they will definitely be used. It is also unclear whether the titles of the first two Hobbit films - "An Unexpected Journey" and "There and Back Again" - will be changed.

    What do you think of these titles?