Monday, March 15, 2010

Tolkien Bibliography Online

For the past nine years or so, my students and I have been creating a bibliographic database of scholarship on J.R.R. Tolkien. For a long time this database was on Filemaker and thus not accessible outside of the Wheaton campus. Now, thanks to Patrick Rashleigh and others, the database is available on the web, and I encourage you to use it at

There are over 600 entries right now, with at least 100 more scheduled to go up between now and the end of the summer. Most entries include full citation information, a summary of the article, and keywords for ease in searching (the 'location' information is usually just to our own very large collection of photocopied articles). You can therefore, at least hypothetically, search for all articles about the Anglo-Saxons, or the problem of evil, or eucatastrophe.

The bibliography is copious but not exhaustive. It has been compiled by students, though checked by me, but sometimes what happens is that a very enthusiastic student takes on a big pile of articles to read and summarize, then things come up, and the articles never do get into the database. So there are many lacunae, particularly in some of the more recent work. I would highly recommend cross-referencing your searches with the yearly bibliographies in Tolkien Studies, which are not precisely part of this project (though there has been some overlap).

Other gaps in the bibliography come from my own work mostly not being there. For internal purposes only (i.e., not for the web), students graded each article A-F. I did not think it was a good idea to put them in the position of having to rate my work, so it did not end up in the assignments.

Some day this may be the complete bibliography that Tolkien studies needs, and until then I hope it is a useful resource both for scholars and for students writing papers.

This project began when the late Marilyn Todesco asked me to find some summer work for her work-study student. "Search for 'Tolkien' in MLA Bibliography and then print out, ILL, copy everything you find," I said to Beth Affanato, having no idea how much that was. Nearly ten years and 600 articles later, we see yet another way that Marilyn contributed to the life of Wheaton College. She is still sorely missed.

Finally, I would like to thank the many students (and two doctoral students from Europe) who have contributed to the bibliography. They include:

Beth Affanato
Hilary Wynne
Kate Malone Hesser
Laura Kalafarski
John Walsh
Christopher Scotti
Shawn McKee
Melissa Higgins
Melissa Smith-MacDonald
Stefanie Olsen
Kathryn Paar
Jason Rea
Lauren Provost
Tara McGoldrick
Julia Rende
Rebecca Epstein
Marcel B├╝lles
Gergely Nagy
Namiko Hitotsubashi


Jason Fisher said...

Wonderful! I hope it continues to grow. Any thoughts of opening it up for others outside Wheaton to assist you in making it more complete? Sort of like a wiki, but of course, with your own moderation before anything submitted from the outside was made public?

Michael said...

I have been trying to find a way to make it somewhat open-source-like, but one of the limiting factors is that I simply can't handle any more email on a regular basis as am hopelessly behind in things like Anglo-Saxon Aloud, etc.
Also would like to expand to non-English biblio, but also beyond my capabilities right now.

Nichim said...

This amateur Tolkien scholar thanks you deeply for making this available online. I can't wait to have time to enjoy it!

Lisa L. Spangenberg said...

This is a super resource; thanks very much.