Library Services dean to present lecture on Tolkien

Valparaiso University’s new Dean of Library Services, an authority on the author of “The Lord of the Rings” series of fantasy novels, will speak about those works and others in a presentation at Valparaiso University.

Bradford Lee Eden, Dean of Library Services, will present “J.R.R Tolkien: His Life and His Works,” at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1, in the Christ College Refectory in Mueller Hall.

The talk is part of the Christ College Symposium program presented by the honors college.

Eden hopes to encourage those interested in J.R.R Tolkien and engage in a discussion of the late author and scholar’s writings. The English author’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was published in the 1950s, and was adapted into the recent popular series of movies. “The Hobbit,” another of his famous works based in Middle-earth, is also coming to the big screen.

A medieval musicologist, Eden said he believes students will be attracted to Tolkien’s “subcreation,” the creation of a fantasy world with its own separate rules and languages, and the musical references that are presented within his work.

“I am always excited to share my Tolkien knowledge,” said Eden, who has a passion for medieval history, musical composition, and exploring Tolkien’s broad influence. Eden hopes that his presentation will inspire others to begin their own Tolkien journey.

At 11 years of age, Eden said, he became intrigued by “The Lord of the Rings.” As a teenager, his love for music and all things medieval was inspired by Tolkien’s musical allusions and symbolic religious components. “I couldn’t put the books down,” Eden said.

Eden’s latest book, “Middle-earth Minstrel Essays on Music in Tolkien,” was published by McFarland Publishing in 2010.

He has a master’s degree and Ph.D. in musicology, as well as an M.S. in library science. In addition to his writing on Tolkien, Eden publishes in the areas of metadata, librarianship, and medieval music and liturgy.

His previous positions include Associate University Librarian for Technical Services and Scholarly Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Head, Web and Digitization Services, and Head, Bibliographic and Metadata Services for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries.

During “J.R.R Tolkien: His Life and His Works,” Eden will offer his views on Tolkien as an influential writer of the 20th century, in addition to discussing Tolkien’s role in the conversion of C.S. Lewis, an Oxford colleague, to Christianity. “Tolkien had a tremendous influence on Christian thought and theology in the 20th century, through his conversion of C.S. Lewis,” Eden said.

This seminar will give the audience a taste of Tolkien’s messages and Eden’s interpretation of his writings.

“Tolkien has been the guiding force behind my life,” he said.

Tolkien’s grandson, Simon Tolkien, made a special appearance at one of Eden’s book signings in Santa Barbara, where he currently resides. Tolkien signed a number of Eden’s items of memorabilia.

“I even have a book of Tolkien’s from when he was a student at Oxford,” Eden said.

The Christ College Symposium is a premier co-curricular program of presentations and talks sponsored by the honors college for the benefit of students, faculty, alumni and the general public.

The Christ College Symposium is a premier co-curricular program of presentations and talks sponsored by the honors college for the benefit of students, faculty, alumni and the general public.

Upcoming Symposium highlights include:

• Sept. 8: “Sex, Lies, and ‘Bad Romance’: The Hunt for the Real Lady Gaga.” Peter Mercer-Taylor, Musicologist, University of Minnesota.

• Sept. 15: “Incarnation and Life Story.” Paul J. Contino, Editor, Christianity and Literature, Pepperdine University.

• Sept. 22: “Engaging Cultural Differences without Moral Panic: The Burqa and ‘FGM.'” Richard A. Shweder, Cultural Anthropologist, University of Chicago.

• Oct. 6: “Stewarding Creation: Why Christians Should Care about the Environment.” Julien C.H. Smith, Biblical Theologian, Valparaiso University.

• Oct. 20: “Sacred Space/Middle East.” Karla Britton, Architectural Historian, Yale University