Vermont Softworks:

blog entry

2019: The view from January

The year begins with new software, new hardware, and a strong focus on the top priority: Tolkien’s maps of Middle-earth. And so far, I’ve successfully restricted paper and conference commitments to stepping-stone” content directly related to The Project.


This invitation from the Morgan Library to their Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition opening mysteriously appeared in my mailbox

I’ve been invited to a private view to mark the formal opening of the exhibition Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York. I’m sure they must be receiving hundreds of polite variations on Thank you, I shall certainly come” (The Lord of the Rings, LRC §1.01.040). Though I saw this exhibition at the Bodleian Library last summer, I’m greatly looking forward to attending!


There is also the New York Tolkien Conference, timed for the same weekend as the Morgan Library’s Tolkien and Inspiration: A Multidisciplinary Symposium” in conjunction with their exhibition. If I can stay with friends in the city, I’ll definitely attend.


As usual, we’ll be hosting our Mordorkian” friends for the annual Tolkien in Vermont conference at UVM. The Mordorkians got me started in serious Tolkien studies, and this small, friendly conference has fostered (and professed ongoing interest in) my work. It’s worth a trek to Burlington — and this year’s theme is Horror!

I may also travel down to Washington, D.C., for this year’s Popular Culture Association conference. Robin Reid, the Tolkien Studies Area Chair, has been urging me to check it out. I have friends and family to stay with in the city, so I should take advantage of its location this year!

July & August

At the beginning of July, I’ll be attending the International Medieval Congress in Leeds again this year. Dimitra Fimi has outlined the five Tolkien sessions here. I’ll be giving a paper titled Tolkien’s ‘“Elvish” and Archaic’ First Map of The Lord of the Rings: Lost Connections in Space and Time.”

And during the second week of August, I’ll be attending The Tolkien Society’s [Tolkien 2019] conference in Birmingham, celebrating their 50th anniversary. I am hoping to give another — very exciting! — paper on Tolkien’s First Map,” a kind of Part II to the Leeds paper.

It seemed kind of silly to travel back to Vermont for the inter-conference period, so I found a lovely little Airbnb to stay at in Oxford — coincidentally only about a block from Tolkien’s home on Sandfield Road. I’ll commute from there across the Cherwell to the Bodleian Library for research.

To make this extended trip possible, I’ll be missing the International Congress on Medieval Studies in May at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MythCon 50 in San Diego in August, and the North American Cartographic Information Society annual meeting in Tacoma in October. I regret not seeing my friends and colleagues and missing their excellent papers, but this will save significant costs and let me keep better focussed on The Project.

I’d like to take a moment here, too, to express my deep gratitude for those who have sponsored my work and research my via Patreon page. Your generosity will competely fund my lodging in Birmingham for the Tolkien 2019 conference. Thank you!