Signum Collaboratory

Tolkien and Textiles: Feminine Agency and Power

Jackie Sheppard

Presentations Hall

“Tolkien and Textiles: Visual Representations of Feminine Agency and Power”  by Jackie Sheppard (presented at BayouMoot 2023)

In this presentation, I will examine textile arts in the legendarium as they relate to feminine agency and power. I would first reveal evidence of Tolkien's own attitudes toward textiles as art, specifically as symbols of power and identity. I would then discuss how textile art is used both as an iconographic and symbolic representation of women in the legendarium, particularly focusing on the characters of Arwen and Lúthien. This discussion would be situated in a critical feminist and queer theory re-examination of how a historical devaluing of textile work as "female craft" and the normative masculine view of textile work as symbolic of female restriction have affected visual representations of power and agency in female Tolkienian characters. The discussion will end by showing how applying feminist/queer lenses to textile art can reveal new understandings of the power and agency such works give to female characters in Tolkien's legendarium.
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