One of the strange side effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic is that many intriguing and remarkable events that would otherwise be inaccessible due to geographical considerations are now going online instead, making them accessible to the entire world. The latest event to make this transition is the Tolkien Symposium on Fantasy Literature, scheduled for this Saturday. The symposium is normally held on the campus of Pembroke College in Cambridge, England.

This year’s symposium appropriately discusses the role of fantasy and science fiction in times of crisis, and how important these genres are in helping us keep it together when it seems like the rest of the world around us is crumbling.

Here is the original post from the TolkienLecture.org web site. We’re reproducing it here to help boost the signal.


“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

This year, Pembroke College’s Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature is transforming into an online symposium! Previous speakers of the series Kij Johnson (2013), Adam Roberts (2014), Lev Grossman (2015), Terri Windling (2016),  and V.E. Schwab (2018), together with forthcoming speaker Rebecca F. Kuang (lecture date TBD), will discuss the importance of fantasy in times of crisis: how science-fiction and fantasy literature respond to, and provide inspiration during, moments of despair and personal difficulty.

The symposium will take place on Saturday May 16, 4:00 – 5:30pm British time (11am – 12:30 Eastern / 8am – 9:30 Pacific).

The event is free but the Tolkien Lecture committee are inviting donations for The Society of Authors’ COVID-19 Crisis Fund, which responds to the loss of income many writers have faced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund provides financial support for professional writers based in the UK – including illustrators, literary translators, scriptwriters, poets, journalists and others – who rely on their writing as their main source of income.

The Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature was established in 2013 at Pembroke College, Oxford, where J.R.R. Tolkien worked for twenty years as professor of Anglo-Saxon. Speakers in the series are given freedom to discuss any aspect of fantasy literature, broadly defined to include other types of speculative fiction. Our aim is to honour J.R.R. Tolkien’s legacy by promoting the study of fantasy literature.

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[Reprinted from TolkienLecture.orgwe’re trying to help them boost the signal.]
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