UG research- Tolkien and Literary Maps

Northern Illinois University holds Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day every year.  It is actually a lot of fun to present your research to people and excellent practice for talking about research projects in graduate school.  I’ve presented medieval art research projects in the past, but this year I decided to shake things up a bit.  In the fall, I took a course that examined the medieval literature roots of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings.  Loads of fun and work, and totally worth it.  For our semester research project we had the freedom to pick whatever we wanted so long as it related to Tolkien’s works.

Wanting to bring an Art Historical approach to the table, I decided to look at Tolkien’s own artworks.  He was a prolific artists, but other than the illustrations he created for The Hobbit, his artworks are largely ignored.  Within academia all of his art is largely ignored.  Without much in secondary sources to play off of I decided to focus on the purpose of the illustrations within his works.  Although probably not intended by Tolkien to serve as maps, I discovered that many of his Hobbit illustrations function as maps for the reader to situate themselves within the world of Middle Earth.  hobbit poster

I’m quite please with how this poster turned out.  So, I thought I would share it.  🙂

Related Reading:

Bushell, Sally. “The Slipperiness of Literary Maps: Critical Cartography and                 Literary Cartography.” Cartographica. Vol. 47. No. 3. (2012): 149-160.

Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

_____. The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.