The Cauldron of Story: Tolkien’s “Metafolkloresque”

Jack Daly (Penn State Harrisburg)

This article examines role of folklore and mythology in Tolkien’s creative works. Folkorists have used the term “folkloresque” to describe the portrayal and integration of folklore in popular culture. Tolkien, however, commented on what he saw the purpose of folklore in his lecture “On fairy-stories.” The term “metafolklore” has been used to describe the process of folklorists commenting on their field. I contend that Tolkien assumes the role of a folklorist in both his academic and creative works. Further, I propose the term “metafolkloresque” to describe how Tolkien uses folkloric elements to comment on the field itself. Beyond a reading of his metafolklore commentary in “On fairy-stories,” I look at his rewriting of "Beowulf" through his short story "Sellic Spell."

Part of V4-04 Folklore Methodology: New (and Old) Approaches, Thursday, October 12, 8:00 am–10:00 am