Cait Coker is an Associate Editor for Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. Her research focuses on the depictions of women and sexuality in science fiction and fantasy; her essays and reviews have appeared in The SFRA Review, The Journal of Transformative Works, and The Future Fire.
Cait Coker will be presenting “Looking for Lothiriel: The Presence of Women in Tolkien Fandom”, examining the depiction of of J. R. R. Tolkien’s and Peter Jackson’s female characters in The Lord of the Rings through the lens of fan fiction.
“Scholars of fan studies believe that fan fiction can be seen as an interpretive and analytical act that gives insight into the reception of a text by its audience. Peter Jackson’s films of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are in many ways a fan text themselves, drawing on both Tolkien’s work and adding and adapting elements for new audiences. Of particular interest are Jackson’s choices about re-interpreting and even adding women, such as Tauriel, to his adaptations–and how fandom, in its turn, rewrites and adapts them. This presentation will examine the depiction of Tolkien’s and Jackson’s female characters in The Lord of the Rings and related works through the lens of fan fiction: How do Tolkien’s most loving and devoted readers, his fans, view the women of Middle-Earth? How do fans read Jackson’s works in light of this? In the case of significant characters like Éowyn and Arwen, quite a bit is known and thus fan-writers have various resources to work with as source references, including the texts as well as the earlier drafts of the novels as published in The History of The Lord of the Rings. In the case of other characters, such as Lothíriel, their presence is little more than (quite literally) a footnote. Reading the poems, short stories, and even novels that fans have written inspired by these characters yields a new picture of the women of Middle Earth: one in which women aren’t always fabulously beautiful or amazingly brave, but take their place alongside the male denizens of Tolkien’s universe all the same.”