...got some interesting feedback towards the end - some positive and some more critical
I wish there had been more questions, but I'd say the positive/negative balance was at about the same ratio as for most papers at most conferences I've attended, including this one. The general tone, as is typical, was encouraging but with caveats: "I like what you're doing, but perhaps X/Y/Z would make for a better approach?" (In 2006, Michael Drout sat in on just one of the eight Tolkien sessions at the Kalamazoo medievalist conference --he spends most of his time there at the Anglo-Saxon presentations-- and he was overheard before that session of three papers saying that he was in attendance because one of the papers' titles included the phrase "Beowulf and the Critics", and as the editor of Tolkien's Beowulf and the Critics
, he felt it was his duty to "scowl menacingly". He was joking, of course, but he did push that presenter nicely but rather firmly to clarify some of her points during the Q&A.)
interestingly, though the crowd was mixed gender-wise, all the comments and questions came from men - though one of V's themes was the editorial choices made by CT as to the depiction of female characters in the Sil
That is odd, and well-observed. I'll have to think about how typical that is at this conference. Most of the comments actually came from the linguists --and they really are THE linguists-- who do happen to be men. Perhaps their presence discouraged others from speaking up, not wanting to be caught in a mistake? Never having been in an audience with those fellows before, I've certainly been on my toes when asking questions here. Honestly, I was surprised that they were as impressed with V's work as they seemed to be -- I figured they knew it all already, even if they'd never worked it out systematically as he had. Given that, and my interaction after the presentation with a couple folks near the back who were desperately trying to make sense of their hastily scribbled notes on V's talk, I wonder if it was all a bit much to take in at one 45-minute paper -- it's important to remember that Mythcon is as much a fan event as a scholarly one, and that many of the fans have never properly digested The Silmarillion
. The previous evening, I was speaking with one major Tolkienist who expressed a trees/forest concern that V's paper would be too much iteration of facts with too little interpretation (in the event, I'm not sure he actually made it to V's paper). Another person I spoke with later that afternoon said he wished that V had picked one or two of themes, like Christopher Tolkien's slighting of female characters, and focused on those to the exclusion of separate comments on every single chapter.
As V said, you can't please everyone, but I'll have some further comments on the response below.