This August I will be attending Mythcon 45, the annual convention of the Mythopoeic Society, a leading international organization for fans and scholars of the Inklings and fantasy studies. The conference will be held at Wheaton College, MA, and will focus on “where fantasy fits” in history, literature, and popular culture. Having recently gone through a time of transition, I doubted that I would be able to attend, which was hugely frustrating given the fact that the conference is within driving distance for me (a rare occurrence). Recently, however, I discovered that I will be able to attend after all. My podcasting co-host, fellow Signum University student, and fellow blogger Curtis Weyant asked me to write up a few thoughts about what I was looking forward to at Mythcon for a newsletter that he is editing for the Mythgard Institute, which got me thinking about my own (pre-)history with Mythcon.
I first read The Lord of the Rings after seeing the Fellowship of the Ring film in 2001 when I was in the early days of high school. After devouring Tolkien’s well-known and accessible works, I forged ahead into his more obscure writings, struggling with but thoroughly enjoying his scholarship (I remember being fascinated but slightly overwhelmed by “On Fairy-Stories”) and the History of Middle-earth volumes. My subsequent forays into Tolkien criticism were really what sparked my love of literary scholarship and paved the way for my becoming an English major in college. I can’t say that I understood it all at the time, but as a teenager trying to comprehend why I loved Tolkien’s writing so much I found Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, and others hugely inspiring.
I don’t remember at what point I became aware of Mythcon, but it was certainly in those first few years of reading and study. In the absence of Tolkien himself, these Tolkien scholars had taken on a kind of heroism of their own for me. The idea that I could attend a conference with like-minded people and even meet these writers whose work had been so helpful in elucidating my own thoughts and feelings about the stories I loved was mind-blowing. I could (dream of dreams) be “one of them.” Since then, quite frankly, I’ve been dying to go.
As I said, I was thrilled to hear that Mythcon is coming to the East Coast. Now, not only am I looking forward to being initiated into this community of Inklings fans and to meeting several people whose work I hugely admire, I’ll have the good fortune of spending time with students and friends that I’ve come to know through the Mythgard Institute. For me, Mythcon represents the chance to meet these colleagues in the field of Inklings studies, bringing multiple generations and backgrounds together, and I couldn’t be more excited.