Paper accepted for NACIS!

I’ll be giving a paper this October at the North American Cartographic Information Society annual meeting in Norfolk, Virginia. If you love maps, mapping, or cartography, consider attending — it’s a very welcoming group!

Mapping Middle-earth: Questing for “real facts” in a fictitious world

Fantasy authors nearly always include maps in their books to show the region or world in which their stories take place. These maps are typically drawn by the author or redrawn by a publisher’s artist, and they are accepted by readers as absolute canon. Though most authors probably heed the advice of J.R.R. Tolkien, to start their world-building “with a map, and [make] the story fit, … [since] the other way about lands one in confusions and impossibilities,” Tolkien himself did not — and the results were much as he stated.

Join the fellowship as we explore the challenges of making maps where descriptions are the data, where fictional characters’ conflicting accounts are primary sources, where “impressionistic” contour lines are DEMs, and where even the author’s own conceptions of a landscape change over time. The forensic map maker must be wiley, and wary of the lures of conjecture, inference, and imagination. For even with such modern tools as relational databases, normalization of decades-old maps, and vector-based cartography software, making the map of Middle-earth that Tolkien would have made had he had the time is a quest not for the faint of heart.

[Nota bene: No love of — nor indeed even familiarity with — The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or Middle-earth is assumed.]

Two more papers given…

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“Tolkien Art Index” and “Lord of the Rings Citations”: Two Tours

“Lord of the Rings Citations”: A Tour

Lord of the Rings Citations provides a two-pronged solution to the perennial problem of how to cite quotations from The Lord of the Rings. First, it furnishes cross references for the pagination of five common typesettings of LotR. Second, it supplies its own logical citation system suitable for use with any edition of the book, including non-paginated electronic editions. LRC also provides an index to correlated passages in Hammond & Scull’s The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion and in “Words, Phrases and Passages” found in Parma Eldalamberon 17.

“Tolkien Art Index”: A Tour

The Tolkien Art Index is a new, free, on-line resource for Tolkien scholars and enthusiasts — thus far listing 480 distinct works of mostly Middle-earth related art all painted, drawn, sketched, or mapped by J.R.R. Tolkien. The heart of the Index is its immutable numbering system, but we’ll also explore the site’s structure, including the (nearly) exhaustive publications list available for each piece of artwork; its tagging systems for geography, subject matter, art media, and characters; and its library reference numbers for items in both the Marquette and the Bodleian collections. Finally, there will be an opportunity to suggest future additional features, changes, and expansion to the Index and its site.

Paper given…

… at the 2nd annual Tolkien Symposium prior to ICMS Kalamazoo

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The Tolkien Art Index

The Tolkien Art Index is a new, free, on-line resource for Tolkien scholars and enthusiasts — thus far listing 463 distinct works of mostly Middle-earth related art all painted, drawn, sketched, or mapped by J.R.R. Tolkien. We’ll explore the site’s structure, including the exhaustive publications list available for each piece of artwork; its tagging systems for geography, subject matter, art media, and characters; and its library reference numbers for items in both the Marquette and Bodleian collections. We’ll also take a brief look at how the thumbnail images were produced. Finally, there will be an opportunity to suggest future additional features, changes, and expansion to the Index and its site.