Recently, Signum University MA student Mickey Corso presented his thesis “The Lady and Our Lady: Galadriel as a ‘Reflexion’ of Mary” to the public, which we were able to record for posterity. You can see the abstract and full discussion video below, and you can get a copy of the paper in the Signum library or here.
Besides the fact that a strong consideration of J.R.R. Tolkien and his Roman Catholic context along this line is sorely needed, I am proud to have been Mickey’s Supervisor. In this video, Mickey spent a bit of time presenting his ideas before responding to questions by me, by his second reader Dr. Sara Brown, and by the quite robust live audience. A global real-time conversation with research is one of the advantages of an interactive Thesis Theater. I hope that Mickey’s research can deepen your connection to Tolkien’s works.
J.R.R. Tolkien asserted that
“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision” (Letters 142).
In particular, Tolkien noted the influence of his devotion to the Virgin Mary on the character of Galadriel:
“I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary” (Letters 320).
While many Tolkien scholars and critics have affirmed or argued against this connection, there is no comprehensive presentation of specific evidence for Tolkien’s claim through a close reading of the text in the context of Tolkien’s English Catholic piety and worldview.
This thesis investigates such evidence and demonstrates a reciprocal applicability, or reflexion, between Tolkien’s primary world devotion to Mary and his secondary world Galadriel. After articulating what Marian pious practices were widespread in early twentieth century Catholicism in England and considering the probability that Tolkien engaged in such practices, the thesis traces Galadriel’s depiction through the manuscript history into final form and relates it to prayers and teachings current in Marian piety to shed light on Galadriel’s development.
About the Presenter
Michael J. Corso, Ph.D. is a lifelong Tolkien fan who is excited to have earned a degree at Signum University. He also has a doctorate in Theology and Education from Boston College and is currently the chair of the theology department at Catholic Memorial School in Boston—where he regularly brings up Tolkien to his students. “Mickey,” as he is known to family and friends, is married to Catherine, his wife of 35 years, and has two daughters, Rebecca and Elise, who are themselves enthusiasts of all things Middle-earth.
About Signum Thesis Theaters
Our graduate students write a thesis at the end of their degree program, exploring a topic of their choice. The Thesis Theatre is where they can present their thesis to the Signum community and wider public, enabling them to explain their research in detail, and respond to questions from the audience.