Mariana Rios Maldonado


Research title: Ethics, Femininity and the Encounter with the Other in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth Narratives

Research Summary

My research engages in the possible linkages between J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth narratives – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion –, Emmanuel Levinas’ ethical philosophy, gender, and representations of the Other.

According to Levinas, the cornerstone of human experience and ethics is our encounter with others. Hence, my research focuses on how the feminine characters in Tolkien’s Middle-earth narratives shape their ethos through their encounters with the Other in relation to four prevalent themes throughout Tolkien’s literary production: heroism, evil, death, and free will. “Feminine” is thought here as a wide-ranging concept that enables the reexamination of Tolkienian characters beyond binary male/female gender paradigms. At the same time, this research seeks to coin a working concept of the Other that encompasses the multiple incarnations of otherness and difference that characterize Middle-earth as a fictional world and impact its overarching moral structure.

Research Interests

  • Tolkien's Middle-earth narratives
  • The influence of Germanic mythology and culture in contemporary fantasy and fantastic literature
  • Germanophonic fantastic literature between the 18th and 20th centuries



“The Canons of Fantasy: Lands of High Adventure by Patrick Moran (2019)”. Journal of Tolkien Research, Vol. 9, Iss. 2, Article 7.

“Flora Fúnebre: vínculos entre la narrativa modernista hispanoamericana y la literatura fantástica en alemán”, pp.213-220. Escrituras locales en contextos globales. Vol. 1. Literaturas, lecturas y sujetos en tránsito, ISBN: 978-3-946139-27-0.


Review of J.R.R.Tolkien: A Guide for the Perplex for Fantastika Journal.




2019: Travel scholarship of 250 Euros on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung (Association for Research in the Fantastic) to present at the 10th Annual GfF Conference “Das Romantisch-Fantastische” (The Romantic Fantastic) in Berlin.

2018 – : Grant on behalf of the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (National Council for Science and Technology, CONACyT) and Fundación INBA (National Foundation for Fine Arts and Literature), Mexico. Full PhD funding including stipend.

2014 – 2015: Grant on behalf of the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (National Council for Science and Technology, CONACyT), Mexico, in the area “Estudios en el Extranjero” (Studies Abroad). One year full MA funding including stipend.


2011: Award for Best Mark of the 2006 – 2011 Generation in BA in Literature on behalf of the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ)



  • New Voices in Tolkien Scholarship. Guest panelist, Oxonmoot Online. September 2020.

Conference Papers

  • Ethics, Femininity, and the Other in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth Narratives. Oxonmoot Online, September 2020.

  • Doomed to Die: Of Death and Afterlife in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”. “Afterlives: Past, Presents and Futures of Arts and Cultures”, College of Arts Annual Postgraduate Conference, University of Glasgow. July 2020.

  • Hoffmann, Meyrink and the Fantastic Counter-Enlightenment. 10th Annual GfF Conference, Freie Universität Berlin. September 2019.

  • Mapping Myth and Trauma in Hellblazer. GIFCon 2019, University of Glasgow. May 2019.

  • Tolkien: Fantasy, Ethics and the Other. Symposium on Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow. May 2019.

  • Flora fúnebre. Vínculos entre la narrativa modernista latinoamericana y la narrativa fantástica en alemán" (Funeral Flora: Linkages between Latin American Modernist Literature and Fantastic Literature in the German Language). IILI 2016, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. July 2016.

  • Fou: el doble, el autómata y las fuerzas misteriosas del universo en la literatura fantástica de Hoffmann y Meyrink (Fou: The Double, the Automat and the Mysterious Forces of the Universe in Hoffman‘s and Meyrink’s Fantastic Literature). X Coloquio Internacional de Literatura Fantástica (10th International Colloquium for Fantastic Literature), Université de Lausanne. June 2013.

Additional Information

Academic Background

  • MA in General and Comparative Literature (Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literatur) from the Peter-Szondi Institute, Freie Universität Berlin.
  • BA in Letras (Literature and Spanish Linguistics) from the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico.


Organisational Committees

Journal editorships