In the Beginning was the Word: How Medieval Text Became Fantasy Art

Anna Waymack and I are making available a talk we gave in Oct. 2018 at Boundary Crossings: the 2018 International Conference on Medievalism. Our presentation was Tolkien, maps, memory, and medievalisms.

In the presentation we begin to trace the connections between Tolkien’s prefatory maps and the world-building mnemonics that Bede and other authors engaged in.We’re happy to present the talk here on my site, . Our talk is the basis for a forthcoming article, and will forms part of a developing book project. We argue that Tolkien’s maps are medievalisms — not because of their appearance, but because of where they appear. Tolkien’s maps, and indeed his process for world-building, hearken back to medieval techniques for imagining and remembering the world. And because of Tolkien’s enormous influence on the fantasy / sci-fi genre, his work acts as a bridge between medieval textual maps and the maps that sit at the front of modern genre books, or those that begin every Game of Thrones episode.

You can find our talk here, and on Anna’s website as well.