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Kathryn Colvin

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Paper

Event Website

http://www.mythsoc.org/mythcon/mythcon-51.htm

Start Date

31-7-2021 11:00 AM

End Date

31-7-2021 11:45 AM

Description

The Victorian poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti appears upon first glance to be an unlikely inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium: though both were medievalists, Tolkien’s reputation for chaste prose contrasts sharply with Rossetti’s famously “fleshly” work. However, a close reading of both—setting Rossetti’s poetry, particularly “Lady Lilith” and its accompanying painting, alongside Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and posthumously published material from The Silmarillion and The History of Middle-earth—reveals a compelling and previously unexplored connection between the Victorian cultural mythology of magic hair (as epitomized by the “hair-mad” Rossetti) and Tolkien’s detailed and often supernatural portrayals of women’s tresses. According to my research, I believe my paper (published in Mythlore issue 137, Fall/Winter 2020) to be the first proposal of Rossetti as an influence on Tolkien, and also novel in its academic attention to Tolkien’s portrayals of women’s hair. One point at which Tolkien’s writing lets down its own figurative hair is in its sumptuous descriptions of female characters’ abundantly flowing locks, the desire they inspire in others, and even their weaponization: in his distinct and sensual attention to women’s hair, I assert that Tolkien was inspired by the Victorians in general, while his depictions of the characters of Galadriel, Lúthien, and Melian are strikingly similar to the femme fatale Lady Lilith of Rossetti’s poetry and painting.

Paper by Kathryn Colvin.

Tech Mod: Jessica Dickinson Goodman

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Jul 31st, 11:00 AM Jul 31st, 11:45 AM

'Her Enchanted Hair': Rossetti, 'Lady Lilith,' and the Victorian Fascination with Hair as Influences on Tolkien

The Victorian poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti appears upon first glance to be an unlikely inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium: though both were medievalists, Tolkien’s reputation for chaste prose contrasts sharply with Rossetti’s famously “fleshly” work. However, a close reading of both—setting Rossetti’s poetry, particularly “Lady Lilith” and its accompanying painting, alongside Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and posthumously published material from The Silmarillion and The History of Middle-earth—reveals a compelling and previously unexplored connection between the Victorian cultural mythology of magic hair (as epitomized by the “hair-mad” Rossetti) and Tolkien’s detailed and often supernatural portrayals of women’s tresses. According to my research, I believe my paper (published in Mythlore issue 137, Fall/Winter 2020) to be the first proposal of Rossetti as an influence on Tolkien, and also novel in its academic attention to Tolkien’s portrayals of women’s hair. One point at which Tolkien’s writing lets down its own figurative hair is in its sumptuous descriptions of female characters’ abundantly flowing locks, the desire they inspire in others, and even their weaponization: in his distinct and sensual attention to women’s hair, I assert that Tolkien was inspired by the Victorians in general, while his depictions of the characters of Galadriel, Lúthien, and Melian are strikingly similar to the femme fatale Lady Lilith of Rossetti’s poetry and painting.

Paper by Kathryn Colvin.

Tech Mod: Jessica Dickinson Goodman

https://dc.swosu.edu/mythcon/mc51/schedule/5

Mythcon 52: The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien

Albuquerque, New Mexico; July 29 - August 1, 2022
https://www.mythsoc.org/mythcon/mythcon-52.htm

Mythcon Conference
 

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