Sunday, January 30, 2005


One of the differences between undergraduate student, graduate student, and professor is the different attitudes one takes towards citations. Students tend to using citations as a means of avoiding plagiarism. Graduate students want to show how much reading they have done. Professors just want to mention articles by their friends.

Just kidding. Both professors and graduate students use citations to strengthen an argument (obviously), although graduate students often spend a little more time getting their ducks all in a row. It's also true that the level of citation detail will depend on which publication you are writing for; Anglo-Saxon England, Anglia, and JEGP require excruciating detail. Other places, such as PMLA, tend to exclude a great deal of citation.

I am a compulsive over-citer and I also write digressive footnotes. Wanna make something of it? (Complaints about over-long footnotes -- and my criticism of those complaints will be another rant).

But this is all just a prolegomenon to pointing you towards the new Tolkien Studies web page and, more on point, the submissions guidelines and the conventions and abbreviations that we have developed.

Please note that there is also a link to a pdf version of the conventions and abbreviations that can be downloaded. The conventions and abbreviations may be freely copied and disseminated and can be used by anyone who wants to use them.

We are trying to encourage people (not just contributors to Tolkien Studies, but all interested scholars) to use these conventions and abbreviations to help eliminate some of the confusion arising from the plethora of editions and publications. For example, because there are so many editions of The Lord of the Rings, we cite by book and chapter as well as by page-number (that way, if you don't have the same edition, you can still find the quote). Thus a citation from The Fellowship of the Ring, book two, chapter four, page 318 is written (FR, II, iv, 318). The �Silmarillion� indicates the body of stories and poems developed over many years by Tolkien;The Silmarillion indicates the volume first published in 1977.

The point here is that you're citing not just to show that you got the quotation from page 233 of whatever book you happen to have, but that you're trying to make it easier for other readers to find the quote in its context, regardless of which editions they have.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia

The first set of invitations to contribute to The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, to be published by Routledge, have gone out. More will follow.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Research Leave "Vacation"

One of the very minor frustrations of being a professor is that one gets criticized (usually in jest) for getting a variety of "vacations." Now it's true that the freedom that comes with not having to keep a set schedule in the summers and during research leaves is one of the greatest perks of the professor job. But in my experience, I often end up putting in more hours during the summers and on leave than I do when I'm teaching (partially because teaching hours are more tiring and so I can justify not working until midnight every night when I'm teaching).

Here's what I've written since May, when classes ended:


"An Anglo-Saxonist Gets His Fifteen Minutes (or, what happens when the media briefly pay attention)," Old English Newsletter (2004), also available on line at the Old English Newsletter site.


[in press] “A Re-Assessment of the Efficacy of Anglo-Saxon Medicine” with Barbara Brennessel and Robyn Gravel, Anglo-Saxon England.

“The Problem of Transformation: The Use of Medieval Sources in Fantasy Literature” Literature Compass 1 (2004) ME 101, 1-22.

[in press] "Bibliography (in English) for 2003," Tolkien Studies 2 (2005), ; with Melissa Smith-MacDonald.

[forthcoming] “Texts that Speak to Readers Who Learn: Towards a Better Tolkien Criticism” in Robert Eaglestone, ed. Re-Reading the Lord of the Rings. London: Continuum, 2005.

[forthcoming] “The Rhetorical Evolution of ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” in Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, eds. Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder, Marquette UP, 2006.

under consideration] “Blood and Deeds: The Inheritance Systems in Beowulf.”

[under consideration] “’The Partridge’ is a Phoenix: Revising the Exeter Book Physiologus.”

Edited Books:

Tolkien Studies 2 (2005); with Douglas A. Anderson and Verlyn Flieger.

The Table of Contents of The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, ed. Michael D.C. Drout [forthcoming 2006, Routledge]. A complete encyclopedia in one volume, approx. 815 pages (500,000 words) [this was way more work than it sounds, since I had to come up with all of the entries, describe each one, give it a word count and assign it to a scholar].

College Course on CD / Course Guide

Geoffrey Chaucer: Bard of the Middle Ages14 lectures on CD; 100-page course guide with discussion, essay questions, glossary, suggested reading. Recorded Books:The Modern Scholar: 2005.

Then we could add in the invited lectures:

“Understanding J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings,” Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA, September 22, 2004.

“The Rhetorical Evolution of ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’” The Lord of the Rings, 1954-2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder. Oct 21-24, 2004. Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.

“Tolkien and the Middle Ages” Outreach Seminar for Secondary School Teachers, Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of New Mexico, October 30, 2004.

“J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.” Wrentham Public Library, Wrentham, MA, January 11, 2005.

“The Lord of the Rings: What Didn’t Make the Director’s Cut.” Duxbury Free Library, Duxbury, MA, January 19, 2004.

Just reading this is exhausting. Getting back to full-time teaching next week will be a nice vacation...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Revision to King Alfred's GrammarSome of my readers use or have used my Old English grammar book King Alfred's Grammar. I've just finished a revision that solved the dreaded font problem, so now you don't need to download my "Wessex" font but can just read the grammar book on your browser.

There's a possibility that King Alfred's Grammar may have a publisher in six months or so. I think there will always be a freeware version, but one never knows.

If you find any errors or have any suggestions, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Sorry no updates recently. I've been totally overwhelmed getting an article finished and doing the editing for Tolkien Studies volume II, most of which has now gone to the printer.

It's a great feeling to be mostly done with these things, since the semester starts on January 27 and life will change a lot then.

But I got a very good review in Speculum (probably the most important journal of medieval studies) for Beowulf and the Critics. Woot!

One of my next projects will be to do the errata page for Beowulf and the Critics and include links (where available) to reviews.