Congress for Medieval Studies 2006

CLM writes: This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a conference session featuring Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey at the 41st International Congress for Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI.

The topic of the lecture was forging the national epic, using “forging” in both the sense of forgery and of creation. Mr. Shippey gave a fascinating and sometimes humorous talk about the national claiming of and identification with epic stories, sometimes involving claims on the same story made by multiple nations, and the process of definitively locating those stories based on examination of people and place-names. At one point Dr. Shippey mentioned Tolkien’s historic essay on “Beowulf and the Critics,” applying Tolkien’s attitude that scholars and nations alike share possession of a marvelous poem and should ideally be happy with it, rather than arguing over its origins and its national ownership.