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Profs and Pints DC presents: “Haunted Landscapes of Middle-Earth,” on J.R.R. Tolkien’s use of horror, with Peter Grybauskas, who has written extensively on Tolkien and teaches courses on him at the University of Maryland and abroad in the UK.
Come on a tour of some of the spookiest sites in Tolkien’s invented world and to learn where, how, and why the beloved author injected hearty doses of horror into his high fantasy.
Your guide on this journey, Peter Grybauskas, is the editor of a new volume of Tolkien’s scholarship and poetry, The Battle of Maldon (together with the Homecoming of Beorhtnoth) and author of A Sense of Tales Untold: Exploring the Edges of Tolkien’s Literary Canvas. He previously wowed Profs and Pints fans with a talk on Tolkien’s “untold stories,” or the tales only vaguely referenced in works like The Lord of the Rings.
This time around Grybauskas is offering up a Halloween treat: A look at how Tolkien tapped into medieval sources, dreams, and his war experiences to make Middle-earth frightfully real.
We’ll venture into the abandoned Mines of Moria, look out at the Dead Marshes, and explore other terrifying realms. From there, we’ll go on a haunted-hayride detour through Tolkien’s Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, a one-act play in which a young poet and an old farmer take a wagon out after dark to pick their way through a freshly-fought battlefield to find the headless body of their English lord.
Come for the jump scares, ghoulish sights and grisly discoveries. Stay for the profound exploration of the cost of war, the codes of chivalry, and the sources of poetic inspiration, all conveyed through some of Tolkien’s finest alliterative dialogue. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: Tolkien drew from his memories of World War I battlefields like this one in creating the corpse-filled “Dead Marshes” of The Lord of the Rings. (Subsequently tinted November 1917 photo of Passchendaele by William Rider-Rider/ Library and Archives Canada.)