Thesis Title: Tolkien’s Eldar Edda: Norse Myth, the Great War, and the Writing of ‘The Silmarillion’
Supervisor: Andy Orchard & Mark Atherton
Research Interests: J.R.R. Tolkien, Geoffrey Bache Smith, Old Norse mythology, Old Norse sagas, the military and cultural history of World War I, Georgian poets, medievalism, medieval literature, Victorian and Edwardian children's literature.
Doctoral research: My thesis research explores the nuanced interaction of Old Norse myth and World War I as influences on J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Silmarillion’. In many ways imperfectly understood works, The Silmarillion and its related antecedents in The Book of Lost Tales and The History of Middle Earth all present a unique and challenging outlook on war, power, conquest, feud, and tragedy, by reformulating motifs, characters, and ideas from Old Norse mythological works, the Poetic and Prose Eddas, with which Tolkien was intimately familiar. In the Silmarillion corpus, Tolkien fuses elements of the dynastic, societal, and political problems of gods and men in Norse myth with the real-life concerns of the events and aftermath of the ‘War to End All Wars’ to create a stirring cycle of interrelated narratives that explore ethical questions relating to conflict, political power, and the responsibility and culpability of the individual.
BIO: I earned my B.A. in English Language and Literature (Course II, First Honours) and M.Phil (Medieval English, 550-1550; Distinction) from Merton College, Oxford. Interviewed by BBC Culture in the lead-up to Amazon's Rings of Power and served as chair and speaker for Tolkien panels at the Bradford Literary Festival (2022, 2023) and Oxford Literary Festival (2023). I have delivered lectures on J.R.R. Tolkien at Corpus Christi and Exeter for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of his passing, and have also taught The Silmarillion,The Book of Lost Tales, and other related works by Tolkien for St. Anne's College and St. Catherine's College, Oxford. I am one of the convenors for the continuing 50th-anniversary seminar series for Hilary and Trinity Terms, 2024.
‘The Politics of Norse Medievalism in the British Press During the First World War,’ ed. Karl Fugelso, Studies in Medievalism XXXI, Special Issue: Politics and Medievalism III (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2022), pp. 79-106.
The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, edited by Richard Ovenden and Catherine McIlwaine (Oxford: Bodleian Publishing, 2022). Tolkien Studies, Vol. 20 (2023).
David Duncan, Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure (London: Allen Lane, 2021). Oxford Research in English, Issue 15 (Spring 2023), pp. 169-174.
'Kipling’s Medievalism and Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales: Historicizing Myth and Mythologizing History in the Early 20th Century,' Tolkien's Worlds and Words -- Commemorative Conference on 50th Anniversary of the Death of J.R.R. Tolkien, Corpus Christi College, Oxford (September 2-3, 2023).
Panel Chair: ‘The Great Tales Never End,’ with Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian Library, and Tolkien biographer John Garth. Bradford Literature Festival (June 25, 2022).
Panel Chair, Conversation(s), Panel 5: ‘Words, Images, and Spiritual Essences’: Corinne Clark, ‘Cultural literacies and Corporeal Palimpsests: Exploring Parallel Conversations with Divinity and Liquidity in Early Islamic and Middle English Devotional Literature,’ and William Burns, ‘Talking Pictures: Painting and Modern Poetry in Stevens, O’Hara, and Langley,’ Oxford English Graduate Conference (June 3, 2022).
‘Norse Medievalism in Britain During the Great War,’ Medievalism and the North, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark (July 28, 2021).
‘Transforming Saga: H. Rider Haggard’s Experiment with (Neo)Medieval Saga as Victorian Novel in Eric Brighteyes,’ Norse in the North (June 12, 2021).
‘De-Marginalizing the Margins: The Dynamic Relationship Between Margins and Central Space in Material Culture,’ Margins, Oxford English Graduate Conference (2014).
‘The Solomon and Saturn Tradition,’ Oxford English Graduate Conference (2014).