Frodo Lives! (Again): After 40 Years, Middle-Earth Conference Returns

Geek Culture

Sam and Frodo in Mordor (aka Tongariro, New Zealand). Image by Ethan Gilsdorf.

It was a time of “Frodo Lives!” and “Gandalf for President.” And a LOT of pipeweed.

Back in 1969, the First Conference on Middle-earth took place in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois on the campus of the University of Illinois. The Second, in 1971, was held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Now, after lying dormant like Mount Doom for 40 years, the Third Conference On Middle-earth (C.O.M.E.) returns on March 25-26, 2011, to the suburbs of Boston, Mass. The event includes a weekend of papers and panels such as “Blondes Have More Fun!: Images of Legolas Greenleaf” and “Between Literature and Movies, Package Tours and the Imagination: A Slide-Lecture Adventure into New Zealand as Middle-earth” (given by yours truly). There will also be a “Downfall of Sauron” party at the Green Dragon (well, actually the hotel bar), a sumptuous banquet, and a screening of the documentary film RINGERS: Lord of the Fans!, and other Tolkien revelry.

The timing couldn’t be better: This 1960s/1970s-era event is being revived just as rehearsals for and filming of The Hobbit begins in Middle-earth (New Zealand).

“This is a gathering where you can sit in the Green Dragon and discuss Elvish or Orcish table manners, if they have any,” joked the event organizer, Peregrin Took II (aka Jan Howard Finder), who also was involved in the previous two events. “This is a celebration of Middle-earth, and all that it implies. Welcome! Enjoy the celebration!”

The conference costs $65 and the banquet is $75. Tickets are limited. The event takes place at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center (219 Littleton Road, Westford, Mass.) Contact them for special conference rates.

Finally: The organizer seeks help in tracking down participants from the original 1969 and 1971 events. Anyone who knows their whereabouts are urged to contact Check out the list of past participants and the programs from the first conference (1969) and second (1971) conference.

Power to the hobbits, man!

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