Friday, April 5th


Interview and Q&A with Yvette Kisor

3:30 – 4:15 p.m. in Lafayette Hall L207


Interview and questions & answers with this year’s keynote speaker — Dr. Yvette Kisor · Ramapo College

[for English majors and minors]

Karukoski’s “TOLKIEN”

6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Roxy Cinemas


A free, private screening of Fox Searchlight’s 2019 biopic “TOLKIEN”.

8:30 – 9:30 p.m. at Phoenix Books, 191 Bank Street, Burlington

Post-film discussion & readings

Saturday, April 6th


8:00 – 8:30 a.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

Continental breakfast & welcome

8:30 – 9:45 a.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

Session 1: Nature, madness, & humor

mod., Matthew Dickerson, Middlebury College


Ian Gauthier & Kristine Larsen

The wrath of trees: Nature and horror in The Lord of the Rings

— Karin Murray-Bergquist · independent scholar · read by Christopher Vaccaro

Riddles and laughter, powers for good in Tolkien’s Middle-earth

— Ian Gauthier · children’s librarian · Aldrich Public Library

They’re like something from a nightmare. No. They’re something nightmares are from.... Monsters. Magic. Gods; or, J.R.R. Tolkien and Joss Whedon: The Notion Club Papers as horror [albeit somewhat satirical and intellectual horror, as in the classic film The Cabin in the Woods] Disclaimer: Don’t mess around with dreams, don’t go on vacations with your friends to deserted locations, and most of all “Do not read the Latin”

Kristine Larsen · Central Connecticut State University

9:45 – 11:00 a.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

Session 2: The perils of Feærie

mod., Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State University


Brendan Anderson, Sian Pehrsson, & Christopher Vaccaro

The girl in the woods: “On Fairy-Stories” and the Virgin-Horror

— Brendan Anderson · independent scholar

Rivers of flame and a great reek rising: Volcanoes and the horror of the sublime in Tolkien’s legendarium

— Sian Pehrsson · Geological Survey of Canada

The anguish of longing: Homo-amory in Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien and Geoffrey Bache Smith’s A Spring Harvest

— Christopher Vaccaro · University of Vermont

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

Session 3: UVM undergraduate voices

mod., Christopher Vaccaro, University of Vermont


Briggs Heffernan

Women of the North: Defining heroism in The Lord of the Rings and Germanic Medieval literature

— Briggs Heffernan · University of Vermont


Tyler Jackson

Two sides of the same coin? Exploring the relationship between good and evil in Middle-earth

— Tyler Jackson · University of Vermont


Peter Larsen

The mythological smith and the smith of myth: How Tolkien used the disparate stories about Weyland of Sweden to forge his legendarium

— Peter Larsen · University of Vermont


Jordan Meeker

Inside the song: The battle between free will and fate

— Jordan Meeker · University of Vermont

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

Lunch break

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)



Yvette Kisor, Ph.D., Ramapo College

The horror of the unnarrated: Implications for Tolkien’s reader

Dr. Yvette Kisor · Ramapo College

2:00 – 3:15 p.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

Session 4: Horror of words

mod., Jamie Williamson, University of Vermont


Dawn Walls-Thumma & Andrew Peterson

The most important characters never named: Unveiling the narrators of The Silmarillion

— Dawn M. Walls-Thumma · Coventry Village School

Ellipses and Lacunæ: The horrible gaps in the mountains of Middle-earth

— Andrew Peterson · MLA candidate · Harvard University

Coffee, tea, cookies, & sparkling cider

Toast to Gerry Blair

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

3:30 – 4:45 p.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)

Session 5: Horrors of modernity

mod., Marylou Kete, University of Vermont


Lisa Gerard, Matthew Dickerson, & Andrew Liptak

Raising walls or welcoming refugees: Reflecting on models of wisdom, heroism and ethics in The Hobbit, The Fall of Gondolin, The Lord of the Rings and other works of J.R.R. Tolkien (and yet another instance of the continued relevance of the legendarium to modern day life)

Dr. Matthew Dickerson · Middlebury College

Tolkien: The horror of modernity

— Lisa Gerard · independent scholar

Tolkien’s wartime experiences: How the Great War redefined horror

— Andrew Liptak · independent scholar

Session 6: On the borders of horror

mod., Christopher Vaccaro, University of Vermont

4:45 — 6:00 p.m. in Waterman Memorial Lounge (Waterman 338)


Jamie Williamson, Erik Mueller-Harder, & Marc Zender

The “lost connections” of Tolkien’s first map of The Lord of the Rings: Part I, Deconstruction

Erik Mueller-Harder · independent scholar

Tolkien, horror, and the Gothic Revival

Jamie Williamson · University of Vermont

The curse of the Mordor-orc

Marc Zender · Tulane University


This year’s conference is dedicated to the memory of our friend and colleague. It is safe to say that we all learned a thing or two from Gerry Blair the man and the scholar. By sharing himself with all of us, his time on earth was worthwhile, indeed.


I am an independent scholar with an interest in the works of the Inklings and especially that of J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoy reading and researching the works of these authors. I expect this will take my entire lifetime and I will still only scratch the surface. I hope I will learn something from all of this that will help me to feel my time on earth was worthwhile.” — Gerry Blair