Children’s Literature

Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy in the 2018 Mythopoeic Awards Finalists!

I have just found out that my latest monograph, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), has been shortlisted for the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies!

The Mythopoeic Awards are divided into four categories, two for fiction, and two for scholarship:

  • The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume novel, or single-author story collection for adults published during the previous year that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”.
  • The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for beginning readers to age thirteen, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies is given to books on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and/or Charles Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship.
  • The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies is given to scholarly books on other specific authors in the Inklings tradition, or to more general works on the genres of myth and fantasy.

My first monograph, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) received the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies in 2010 and it’s a great honour to be shortlisted again, this time for the Myth and Fantasy Studies category.

I am in really excellent company, alongside books by colleagues Farah Mendlesohn and Mark J.P. Wolf. I actually contributed two entries in Wolf’s edited collection in this shortlist: one on Tolkien’s Arda, and one (co-authored with Andrew Higgins) on Invented Languages.

The winners of this year’s awards will be announced during Mythcon 49, to be held July 20-23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Here’s a link to the announcement the Mythopoeic Society website: http://www.mythsoc.org/news/news-2018-05-21.htm

And here’s the full short list:

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

Byrne, Aisling, Otherworlds: Fantasy and History in Medieval Literature (Oxford Univ. Press, 2016)
Fimi, Dimitra, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017)
Levy, Michael and Farah Mendlesohn, Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2016)
Sanders, Elizabeth M, Genres of Doubt: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Victorian Crisis of Faith (McFarland, 2017)
Wolf, Mark J.P., ed., The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds (Routledge, 2017)

New article on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters in The Conversation

I had a new (festive) article published yesterday on the The Conversation, titled: “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Christmas letters to his children bring echoes of Middle-earth to the North Pole”. In this article I discuss the letters from Father Christmas Tolkien sent to his children, and the creation of an entire parallel Christmas mythology (alongside his Middle-earth legendarium) which appropriated American popular culture about Santa Claus, but also added new characters, details and even invented languages and scripts! Some of the research that went into this piece is also included in my first monograph, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

You can read the entire article here.

Alan Garner’s The Owl Service has its 50th anniversary today!

One of the books I’ve worked with very closely during the last few years is Alan Garner’s The Owl Service. Garner’s creative re-use of the tale of Lleu, Blodeuwedd, and Gronw from the Welsh Mabinogion made it a prime candidate for inclusion in my recently published monograph, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). In Chapter 5, I explore the way in which Garner creatively reshaped and appropriated this Welsh legend, and I argue that he created a “prototype text” in which the supernatural erupts into the mundane and intrudes into family and/or romantic relationships of teenagers. Books such as Jenny Nimmo’s The Chestnut Soldier and Catherine Fisher’s Darkhenge has followed this tradition, using Welsh myth as a way of dealing with psychological traumas, internal anxieties, and the perennial problems that often concern teenagers
(romance, sexuality, intergenerational and sibling conflict, etc.).

Having been published in 1967, I knew that the book was going to be 50-years-old at some point this year, so I got in touch with HarperCollins to find out the exact date. Thanks to their archivist, Dawn Sinclair, I now know that The Owl Service was published on 21st August 1967, so it celebrates its 50th anniversary today. Dawn very kindly tracked for me the relevant page in the Collins Complete Book Catalogue, Autumn 1967:

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Archive

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Archive

To mark the 50th anniversary of The Owl Service, I contributed this article to the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) online today: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/alan-garner-owl-service-fifty/

I look forward to teaching the book again this year and to sharing its haunting qualities with my students.