Kristine Ainsworth Swank


Research title: The Creative Uses of Irish Literature in Works by J.R.R. Tolkien

Research Summary

The purpose of this research is to assess the impact of Irish mythological literature on Tolkien’s secondary creations, including his Middle-earth and non-Middle-earth fiction and poetry, with special emphasis on the specific works of Irish literature that Tolkien owned, read, and/or referenced, including his volumes donated to the Bodleian and the English Faculty libraries at Oxford University.



  • “The Child’s Immram in Tolkien, Lewis, and Pullman.” Mythlore (Special Issue on Mythopoeic Children’s Literature), 38.1 (Fall/Winter 2019), pp. 75-98.

  • “The Irish Otherworld Voyage of Roverandom.” Tolkien Studies 12 (2015), pp. 31-57.
  • "The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters.” Mythlore 32.1 (Fall/Winter 2013), pp. 127-144.
  • “Tom Bombadil’s Last Song: Tolkien’s ‘Once Upon A Time.’” Tolkien Studies 10 (2013), pp. 185-197.


  • “‘Moor’ and ‘Saracen’ in Medieval and Contemporary Arthurian Texts.” The Arthurian World, Routledge, 2022, pp.531-546.  

  • "Eldest: Tom Bombadil & Fintan mac Bóchra as Memory Keepers." Critical Insights: The Lord of the Rings, Salem Press, 2022, pp. 181-195.
  • “House-Elves in Harlem: Stereotyping the Other in Fantastic Beasts and  Where to Find Them.” Transmedia Harry Potter: Essays on Storytelling Across Platforms, McFarland, 2019, pp. 166–180.

  • “The Peaceweavers of Winterfell.” Queenship and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice in Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 105–127. 
  •  “‘A Recognizable Irish Strain in Tolkien’s Work.’” A Wilderness of Dragons: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger, Gabbro Head Press (2018): 313-334. 

  • “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Heroes from Grendel to Shrek.” Monsters of Film, Fiction, and Fable: The Cultural Links between the Human and Inhuman, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2018): 263-286. 
  • “‘I shall take no wife’: Celibate Societies in Westeros and in Western Civilization.” Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood, Wiley (2017): 209-223. 

  • "Fairy-Stories that Fueled The Hobbit." Critical Insights: The Hobbit, Salem Press (2016): 115-121. 

  • Harry Potter as Dystopian Literature.” Harry Potter for Nerds II, Unlocking Press (2015): 157-173.  
  • "The Arabian Nights in Twenty-first Century Fantasy Fiction and Film." Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms: From Isaac Asimov to A Game of Thrones, Cambria Press (2015): 163-181.


  • Falling Skies,” “Jeremiah,” “Red Rising Trilogy,” “Snow Crash,” and “War of the Worlds” (encyclopedia entries). Dystopian States of America: Apocalyptic Visions and Warnings in Literature and Film, ABC-CLIO (forthcoming September 2022).

  • “Philip Pullman” (encyclopedia entry), with Steve Barfield, Katharine Cox, and Chris Willis. The Literary Encyclopedia, revised 14 July 2021.

  • The Water Babies” (encyclopedia entry). The Literary Encyclopedia, 01 April 2021.

  • “Ursula’s Bookshelf” (note). Mythlore (Special Issue on Ursula K. Le Guin), 39.2 (Spring/Summer 2021), 137-155.

  • «Le dernier chant de Tom Bombadil: <Il était une fois> de J.R.R. Tolkien» [Reprint], translated by Stéphanie Loubechine. Fées, navigateurs & autres miscellanées en Terre du Milieu, Le Dragon De Brume, 2017, pp. 11-24.

  • «Il était deux fois : réexaminer le poème <Il était une fois>» translated by Stéphanie Loubechine. Fées, navigateurs & autres miscellanées en Terre du Milieu, Le Dragon De Brume, 2017, pp. 27-35.


  • Re-Envisioning Mythopoeia by Nancy-Lou Patterson, edited by Emily E. Auger and Janet Brennan Croft.” Mythlore, vol. 38, no. 2, 2020, pp. 205-211.

  • Tolkien and the Sea: Proceedings of the Tolkien Society Seminar 1996, edited by Richard Cranshaw and Shaun Gunner.” Mythlore, vol. 40, no. 2, 2022, pp. 262-266.

  • Tolkien’s Modern Reading by Holly Ordway.” Mythlore, vol. 40, no. 1, 2021, pp. 249-256.

  • Poetry and Song in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien (2018), ed. by Anna Milon.” Journal of Tolkien Research, vol. 11, no. 1, 2020, n.p.
  • ‘The Sweet and the Bitter’: Death and Dying in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (2018) by Amy Amendt-Raduege; and Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien (2020) by Anna Vaninskaya.” Journal of Tolkien Research, vol. 9, no. 1, 2020, n.p.

  • "J.R.R. Tolkien, Romanticist and Poet (review)," Mythlore, Vol. 36: No. 2. Article 10 (2018).
  • "Goddess and Grail: The Battle for King Arthur's Promised Land by Jeffrey John Dixon (review)." Mythlore, Vol. 36: No. 2. Article 19 (2018). 
  • The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis: An Introduction and Ransoming the Wasteland: Papers on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia, and Other Works (reviews),” Mythlore, 35.1, Fall/Winter 2016, 173-182.
  •  "Approaches to Teaching Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings and Other Works (2015) edited by Leslie A. Donovan (review),” Journal of Tolkien Research 4.1 (2017).



  • Research Support Awards (2), University of Glasgow, 2019.

  • Outstanding Honors Faculty, Honors Advisory Council, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2013-14 

  • Faculty Professional Enrichment Recognition Award, Pima Community College, , Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2012 

  • Barton Kyle Yount Award, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Glendale, Arizona, USA, August 1995 
  • Arizona Library Association/ Horner Japanese Exchange Fellowship, 1992 



  • “The Black Magician in Arthurian Film & Television,” Who Gets to Be Legendary Roundtable, 57th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI (online), May 13, 2022.

  • “Tolkien’s Paratexts, Appendices, Annals, and Marginalia (A Roundtable),” 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI (online), May 15, 2022.

  • “The Poetry of Geoffrey Bache Smith with Special Note of Tolkienian Contexts,” Tolkien Symposium, Kalamazoo, MI (online), May 8th, 2021. Available at Journal of Tolkien Research, vol. 12, no. 2.

  • “Travelers in Time: J.R.R. Tolkien and Joseph O’Neill,” Tolkien 2019, Birmingham, U.K., August 10, 2019.

  • “Eldest: Tom Bombadil & Fintan mac Bóchra,” Tolkien: Medieval Roots and Modern Branches panel, 25th International Medieval Congress, Leeds, U.K., July 3, 2018. 
  • “The Irish ‘Lost Tales’ of Eriol & Ælfwine,” Tolkien At Kalamazoo panel, 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 10, 2018. 

  • “The Transformations of Tam Lin: Ballad Adaptations, C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, and The Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things,” 38th Annual Southwest Popular Culture Association (SWPCA) Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 15, 2017. 

  • Immram Roverandom,” Tolkien at Kalamazoo panel, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 17, 2015. 
  • “Black in Sherwood: Race & Ethnicity in Robin Hood TV & Film,” Tales After Tolkien roundtable, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 17, 2015, May 16, 2015. 

  • “Harry Potter as Dystopian Literature,” Mythcon 45, Mythopoeic Society, Wheaton College, Norton, Massachussets, August 10, 2014. 

  • “The New Old Arabian Empire: Medieval Arabia's Flowering in the Fantasy Genre,” Tales After Tolkien panel, The 35th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA), Orlando, FL, March 22, 2014. 
  • “Good Plain Food: Diet and Virtue in the Fantasies of Lewis and Tolkien,” Mythcon 44, Mythopoeic Society, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, July 13, 2013. 

  • “Black and Liminal in Camelot,” Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism and Twenty-First Century Fantasy Literature Panel II, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, May 12, 2013. 

  • “The Hobbit & Father Christmas,” Conference on Tolkien and His Works, Valparaiso University, March 2, 2013. 




  • LITA 5303 – “The [Harry] Potter Saga,” Preceptor.

  • LITA 5304 – “Modern Fantasy I,” Preceptor.

  • LITA 5312 – “Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth,” Preceptor.

  • LITA 5316 – “Ursula K. Le Guin: Worldbuilder,” Lecturer & Preceptor.

  • LITB 5303 – “The Dystopian Tradition,” Preceptor.

  • LITB 5308 – “The Inklings and Science Fiction,” Preceptor, Signum University, Summer 2016.

  • LITC 5303 – “Folkloric Transformations: Vampires & Big Bad Wolves,” Preceptor.

  • LITZ 6398 – “Thesis Research: Language & Literature,” Thesis Director.

  • LITZ 6399 – “Master’s Thesis in Language and Literature,” Thesis Director.


  • HON 280/296 – “Honors Independent Study Project: Harry Potter,” Instructor.

  • HON 280/296 – “Honors Independent Study Project: J.R.R. Tolkien," Instructor.

  • HON 101 – “Honors Colloquium,” Instructor.


  • BBA 305W – “Business Communications,” Instructor.

Additional Information

Other Roles

  • Librarian/Library Department Head—Northwest Campus, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona, USA (2001-present)

  • Preceptor, Signum University (online), Nashua, New Hampshire, USA, (2016-present)

  • Honors Instructor, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona, USA (2013-2019)

  • Adjunct Instructor, Northern Arizona University (online), Flagstaff, Arizona, USA (2008-2017)