Down the Hobbit-hole
& Through the Wardrobe
IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
the twenty-fourth annual Conference of
The Mythopoeic Society
These files are used by permission of the authors.
Cover illustration by Maggie Lindorfer
Inside cover: “In a Season of Calm Weather,” a story by Ruth Berman
Conference Theme and Subtheme
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Mythopoeic Society and the Mythopoeic Awards
The Mythcon 24 Program
[including] Special Events, Papers, Panels & programs, miscellany
Acknowledgements (see below)
Down the Hobbit-hole & Through the Wardrobe
by David Lenander
This theme was chosen several years ago to invoke particular books and their authors. First of all, the titles of the Alice In Wonderland books by Lewis Carroll: Down the Rabbit Hole and Through The Looking Glass. Probably the most famous children’s books of the Nineteenth Century, the Alice books are also representative of the Victorian Fantasy that has been of great interest to the members of the Rivendell Group, and members of the English and German departments for a number of years. Such past and present members as Ruth Berman, P.C. Hodgell, Michael M. Levy, Louisa Smith, David Lenander, Rick Henry, Donna White, Peg Kerr Ihinger, Ruth Jeffries, James Maertens, and Cathy Parlin, have studied with such professors as William Madden, C. Michael Hancher, Stephen Prickett, Margery Durham, Rodney Shewan, Gordon Hirsch, Jack Zipes, and Karen Nelson Hoyle, many of whom have also spoken to the Rivendell Group. The Nineteenth Century roots of the work of the Inklings-Owen Barfield, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and the others-have been explored in the discussions of the Rivendell Group since its beginnings in 1973. Of course it was the works of the Inklings that brought us together, many of us first discovering children’s fantasy in Tolkien’s The Hobbit or Lewis’s Narnia books, beginning with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And so it is these stories that we call to mind along with Carroll’s.
The Mythopoeic Society came together in 1967, in California, as a discussion group devoted to the Inklings’ fantasy. It soon grew to include discussion groups scattered all across North America, and gradually developed interests in the Inklings’ critical approaches and scholarship as well as their biography and fiction. The Inklings were themselves originally a college group, celebrating not only their shared creativity in their original fantasy, but their friendship and common interests in literature of all periods, talk and argument. They were not the first such group, or even the first such school of fantasy writers, but they participated consciously in a rich literary tradition that we continue today, however much we may expand or add to that tradition. They were certainly among the first critics to take fantasy and Children’s books as seriously as they took Beowulf, Chaucer or Milton. However seriously they took their Nesbitt, Caroll or Macdonald, they never failed to enjoy it, nor became so tangled in theory as to lose either the original texts or intelligibility in theoretical jargon. Today, at Mythcon 24, we celebrate not only the Inklings’ fiction, but also such essays as “On Fairy Stories,” and “On Three Ways of Writing for Children.” And recognize some of their true heirs in Carol Kendall, Jane Yolen and Jack Zipes.
Even as the Society and Rivendell have studied the “Roots of Tolkien’s Tree” (as we called them in a lecture series we sponsored some years ago), so have our members and mentors gone on to harvest new fruits of our studies and conversations. Articles, dissertations, stories and poems, and less tangible fruits in the teaching and scholarship informed by our discussions in many ways. Some of these are in evidence this weekend, not only in the program detailed in this book, or the novels and Mythlores for sale in the Goblin Market, but in the conversations in the hallways, the questions asked, the jokes cracked and the songs sung in the evenings.
This weekend we hope to peer down Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit-hole into the past, examining again the foundations of our fantasy literature, and to accompany Lucy through the Wardrobe, exploring new worlds of fantasy in papers, panels and readings by familiar and new writers. We’ve asked three authors who have taken those journeys, and journeys of their own, to be our guides. Jack Zipes will talk about “The Wizard of Oz as American Myth,” while Jane Yolen, who has often acknowledged her debt as a story teller to such writers as Rudyard Kipling, and J.M. Barrie, will re-examine some of the fantasy texts like Kingsley’s Water Babies in her talk on Saturday, “Dark Mirrors.” On Sunday evening we’ll listen to Carol Kendall share some of the wisdom that has enabled her to create characters like Muggles and her Maxims.
Fantasy in the Midwest
by Eric M. Heideman
Mythcon XXIV’s subtheme is “Fantasy in the Midwest.” This subtheme will run through panels on “The Fantastic Tradition in Minnesota and Wisconsin” and on Minnesota children’s writer/illustrator, Wanda Gág, readings by several Midwestern writers, a video tape of a Minnesota children’s theatre production, as well as some of the scholarly papers. We have a number of programs relating to the great, American midwestern dream of the Land of Oz, notably our keynote address by Minnesota resident Jack Zipes.
Wisconsin is the longtime home of Arkham House and the current home of Amazing Stories. Robert Bloch lived and wrote there for many years. Clifford D. Simak grew up in southwestern Wisconsin and repeatedly wrote about his youthful environs during his many decades as the patriarch of Minnesota SF writers. Poul Anderson went to college in Minnesota and Thomas M. Disch grew up here. Current Wisconsin writers of the fantastic include Joan Vinge, P.C. Hodgell, Phyllis Ann Karr, and Kris Jensen. Of the many SF writers currently living in Minnesota, Gordon R. Dickson is the best known. Current Minnesota speculative writers who have written novels partly set in the state include Charles V. De Vet (Special Feature), John Sladek (Roderick and Bugs), Eleanor Arnason (Daughter of the Bear King), Emma Bull (War for the Oaks), Pamela Dean (Tam Lin), and Caroline Stevermer (River Rats).
Minnesota has a strong two-decades old tradition of SF writing groups, currently including the Aaardvards, the Scribblies and The Workshop. The Minnesota Imaginative Fiction Writers’ Alliance (MIFWA) serves as a resource sharing network for Minnesota SF & F writers. Tales of the Unanticipated is a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine published by the Minnesota Science Fiction Society.
Mythcon XXIV Committee
Ruth Berman, Steven Mark Deyo, Mike Dorn, Giovanna Fregni, Marianne Hageman, Eric M. Heideman, Jo Ann Johnson, Deborah K. Jones, Greg Ketter, David Lenander, Cathy Parlin, Polly Jo Peterson, Joan Marie Verba
The Mythcon Committee would like to thank our co-sponsoring organizations: The University of Minnesota Departments of English and German, the University Mythopoeic Society Rivendell Group, and especially the University Libraries’ Children’s Literature Research Collections, and Curator Karen Nelson Hoyle
We also thank the Minnesota SF Society, SF Minnesota, the Minneapolis Union (Coffman Union) staff, Comstock Dormitory staff, Linda Escher and the Children’s Book Illustrators’ Guild, The Children’s Theatre Company, David Bratman and Sherwood Smith of The Mythopoeic Society, Eleanor Arnason, Gary & Sylvia Hunnewell, Laura Krentz, Maggie Lindorfer, Nancy-Lou Patterson and Louisa Smith.
Program Book Art Credits: Charles Dodgson, Sylvia Hunnewell, Maggie Lindorfer, Nancy-Lou Patterson, Laramie Sasseville and John Tenniel.
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