Fourth Annual Tolkien Conference

Next Saturday, September 19 (one week from Today!), Urbana Theological Seminary will be hosting its fourth annual Tolkien Conference. This year’s conference will include a fabulous lineup of speakers, as well as a “Hobbit Birthday Party” brought to us by The Wheaton College Tolkien Society.

Our Keynote speaker will be Dr. Charlie Starr from Kentucky Christian University. Dr. Starr is the author of Light: C.S. Lewis’s First and Final Short Story, in which one of C. S. Lewis’s short stories that had been kept in an archive was published for the first time, as well as several articles and essays on Lewis, Tolkien, and Christianity and art/film/culture. Dr. Starr will be presenting on Tolkien’s understanding of mythology, which was instrumental in C. S. Lewis’s conversion to Christianity.

Also speaking will be Mike Foster, American Representative of the (international) Tolkien Society for more than 25 years. Mike was one of the speakers at last year’s conference, where he told stories about different people he has known who knew Tolkien himself. This year Mike will be presenting on two of Tolkien’s short stories, “Smith of Wooton Major” and “Farmer Giles of Ham.” Since one of these stories was written early in Tolkien’s career and one late, he will be focusing on comparing the two.

Rick Williams, from the Baptist Student Foundation at the University of Illinois (and who also teaches Worldviews at Judah Christian High School), will be presenting on another of Tolkien’s lesser-known stories, “Roverrandom.” It is a children’s story about a dog who is sent on a magical adventure. Williams presented at Urbana Seminary’s Second annual Tolkien Conference, and the presentation he gave then is going to be published in the upcoming book Tolkien and the Arts by Square Halo Press.

Billie Jarvis-Freeman, from Lincoln Christian University, will be presenting on art in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, looking at the relationship between characters who create or enjoy art and their inherent goodness. Dr. Jarvis-Freeman’s research interests include Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and George MacDonald.

The final speaker will be Urbana Seminary’s dean, Dr. Melody Green. Dr. Green has been organizing this conference for the last four years, and has spoken at it more than once. This time she will be presenting a close examination of the poem “The Riddle of Strider,” looking at what it means and why it is such a popular poem. This paper is closely related to a presentation she gave at Aston University in 2005.

The day will wrap up with a Hobbit Birthday Party (after all, Sept 22 IS Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, the event that stared the whole Lord of the Rings adventure) that will include entertainment by the Wheaton College Tolkien Society. While they are keeping the exact nature of this entertainment under wraps, they promise it will be fun and entertaining.

So this is going to be one conference you do not want to miss! It does cost $25 to attend, and that covers lunch and snacks as well as the conference itself. For more information or to register, see (and yes, if you cannot register in advance, you can come and pay at the door).  If you have any questions or are curious about how you could volunteer, contact Dr. Melody Green at
We look forward to seeing you there!