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After 40 Years In Hibernation, TOLKIEN CONFERENCE Returns!

Image © Ethan Gilsdorf

FOG! Contributor Ethan Gilsdorf’s book, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms is a must read for any self respecting role player or geek in general.

In it, Ethan chronicles his re-immersion into the fantasy and gaming culture that served as an escape while growing up.  He’s also involved himself in a pretty interesting event, The Third Conference On Middle-Earth, which will be held at the end of the month.

Full details after the jump.

After lying dormant like Mount Doom for 40 years, the Third Conference On Middle-Earth (C.O.M.E.) returns on March 25-26, 2011.
The weekend devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien and his works such as “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” includes papers, panels, a party, banquet, and a film screening. C.O.M.E. takes place at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, Massachusetts (USA), about 40 minutes northwest of Boston.
“It’s too long since I chaired the First and Second Conferences on Middle-earth,” said Peregrin Took II (aka Jan Howard Finder), who helped organize the first two gatherings. The first conference took place in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois at the University of Illinois in 1969; the second, in 1971, was held in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Life got in the way of my plans for a third conference,” Finder added. “Years passed. Then a chance meeting, as we say in Middle-earth, brought the idea of holding, finally, the Third Conference On Middle-earth. How could I resist.”
After four decades since the first C.O.M.E, passion for Tolkien has far from waned — it’s exploded. Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movie adaptations have introduced millions to the work of Tolkien. With Jackson’s filming of “The Hobbit” in New Zealand beginning the same week as this 3rd Conference On Middle Earth, the timing couldn’t be more auspicious.
“I call you here to speak of J.R.R. Tolkien, his works, works based on Tolkien and his works, criticism, teaching Tolkien in the classroom, the impact of the books on yourself, friends, family, and/or the world, the films and the film industry, the music, the art, the fannish side of this universe and its impact, and anything and lots more,” Finder said.
Presentations at the first two conferences covered topics such as “Tolkien and Revolution Faculty” and “The Psychological Journey of Bilbo Baggins”; events included a “Costume Party” with music by “the Audi-Badoo” and a “Medieval Tourney” run in cooperation with the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Now, 40 years later, the scholarship and fan communities will again join forces to celebrate all things Tolkien. Among the highlights are the panels “1965! When it, Middle-earth, was turned upside down!” about the impact of the bootleg edition of “Lord of the Rings” that hit college campuses; and “Two films to do The Hobbit is one too many!” which will debate Jackson’s plan to turn the single book into two Hobbit movies. Talks will be given on subjects such as “Blondes Have More Fun!: Images of Legolas Greenleaf” and “Between Literature and Movies, Package Tours and the Imagination: A Slide-Lecture Adventure into New Zealand as Middle-earth.” There will also be a merchants area selling Middle-earth-themed wares, such as cloaks and cloth works of Middle-earth, Lord of the Rings pewter goblets, Tolkien memorabilia and other items.
The Rev. Michael Frank spoke at the 1971 conference in Cleveland on the nature of loss in the C.S. Lewis “space trilogy” and in Tolkien; this year, Frank will return to deliver a paper on how Tolkien’s faith helped shape his world of Middle-earth. “Like a good Hobbit,” Frank said, “I am looking forward to the food, as well as meeting new people.”
The weekend kicks off on Friday evening, March 25, with a “Downfall of Sauron Party” in the Green Dragon. On Saturday evening, the 26th, after the panels and papers, there will be a banquet, followed by a free screening of the film “RINGERS: Lord of the Fans!” a feature-length documentary that explores how ‘The Lord of the Rings’ has influenced Western popular culture over the past 50 years.
“This is a gathering where you can sit in the Green Dragon and discuss Elvish or Orcish table manners, if they have any,” Finder joked. “This is a celebration of Middle-earth, and all that it implies. Welcome! Enjoy the celebration!”
The conference costs $65 and the banquet is $75. Tickets are limited, and may be sold out. The hotel, Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center, is located at 219 Littleton Road, Westford, Mass., Call for special conference rates: 978-692-8200 or 800-543-7801.
Additionally, Finder seeks kelp in tracking down participants from the original 1969 and 1971 events. Anyone who knows their whereabouts are urged to contact the conference (see and for a list of past participants and old programs).
For more information, visit  or email  [email protected]
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