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 mythology and literature on Tolkien’s secondary creations, including his Middle-earth and non-Middle-earth fiction and poetry, and his language creation, with specific emphasis the specific works of Irish mythology and relevant literature that Tolkien owned, read, and/or referenced, including his volumes donated to the Bodleian and the English Faculty libraries at Oxford University.



  • “Reepicheep, Rover, and La Belle Sauvage: The Child’s Voyage and the Immram Tradition in Lewis, Tolkien, and Pullman.” Mythlore:A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature, special issue on Mythopoeic Children’s Literature, edited by Donna R. White, vol. 36, no. 2, iss. 134, Fall 2019 (manuscript in peer-review). 
  • “The Irish Otherworld Voyage of Roverandom.” Tolkien Studies 12 (2015), 31-57. 
  • "The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters.” Mythlore 32.1 (Fall/Winter 2013), 127-144. 
  • “Tom Bombadil’s Last Song: Tolkien’s ‘Once Upon A Time.’” Tolkien Studies 10 (2013), 185-197. 
  • “Implementing Information Technology at Border Technikon, South Africa” with Susan Lubbe and Lesley Heaney. Educational Technology Research & Development 45.3 (1997), 124-129. 


  • “Ethnicity in Arthurian Film and TV,” The World of Arthur, edited by Renée Ward, Miriam Edlich-Muth, and Victoria Coldham-Fussell. Routledge (manuscript in preparation). 
  • “Woman as Goddess in the Fantasies of Jodi McIsaac.” The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Alistair J.P. Sims (in process). 
  • “House-Elves in Harlem: Stereotyping the Other in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Inside the World of Harry Potter, edited by Christopher Bell (forthcoming, 2019). 
  • “The Peaceweavers of Winterfell.” Medieval Queens and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice in ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’, edited by Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming, Autumn 2019).  
  •  “‘A Recognizable Irish Strain in Tolkien’s Work.’” A Wilderness of Dragons: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger, edited by John D. Rateliff. 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, edited by Lisa Wenger Bro, Crystal O’Leary-Davidson, and Mary Ann Gareis. 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, edited by Brian A. Pavlac. Wiley (2017): 209-223. 
  • “The Irish Otherworld Voyage of Roverandom” [Reprint]. J.R.R. Tolkien: Critical Assessment of Major Writers, edited by Stuart Lee. Routledge (2017): volume III, 260-282. 
  • "Fairy-Stories that Fueled The Hobbit." Critical Insights: The Hobbit, edited by Stephen W. Potts. Salem Press (2016): 115-121. 
  • The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters” [Reprint]. Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations: The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Harold Bloom. Chelsea House (2016): e-book. 
  • Harry Potter as Dystopian Literature.” Harry Potter for Nerds II, edited by Travis Prinzi and Kathryn N. McDaniel. 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, edited by Helen Young. Cambria Press (2015): 163-181.  



Grants & Awards

  • 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 



  • “Travellers in Time: J.R.R. Tolkien and Joseph O’Neil,” Tolkien 2019, Tolkien Society’s 50th Anniversary Conference, Birmingham, UK, (accepted for August 7-11, 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. 
  • “Black in Camelot: Race & Ethnicity in Arthurian Legend,” Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) Annual Conference, Scottsdale, AZ, February 6, 2016. 
  • “Black in Camelot: Race & Ethnicity in Arthurian Legend,” Mythcon 46, Mythopoeic Society, Colorado Springs, CO, August 1, 2015. 
  • Immram Roverandom,” Celtic Literature in Tolkien's Medievalism panel, International Medieval Congress, Leeds University, Leeds, UK, July 6, 2015. 
  • 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. 
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the voyage of Roverandom,” Mythmoot III, Mythgard Institute and Signum University, Baltimore, Maryland, January 11, 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. 


  • Panel in honor of Dr. Verlyn Flieger, Mythmoot VI, Leesburg, VA, (forthcoming June 28, 2019). 
  • Blade Runner 2049 (2018),” Mythgard Movie Club, Mythgard Institute, March 14, 2019. 
  • Blade Runner (1982),” Mythgard Movie Club, Mythgard Institute, January 31, 2019. 
  • She (1934),” Mythgard Movie Club, Mythgard Institute, October 11, 2018. 
  • “Hobbit Day Readings, Panel Discussions, and Campaign Kick-Off!” Signum University, online, September 22, 2018. 
  • “The Library,” Adjunct Faculty Night, Pima Community College-Northwest Campus, Tucson, AZ, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2018. 
  • Games of Thrones Roundtable,” Signum University, online, December 22, 2017,
  • “Signum University Christmas Faculty Roundtable,” Signum University, online, December 22, 2016,  
  • “Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters,” Silver Scholars Lecture, Pima Community College-Northwest Campus, Tucson, AZ, November 4, 2016. 
  • “The Irish Otherworld Voyage of Roverandom,” Signum University, online, October 7, 2016,
  • “Religion in Science Fiction,” Welcome to the Improbable Made Possible: Science Fiction Short Stories Seminar, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arizona (OLLI-UA), March 1, 2016. 
  • “Utopian & Dystopian Visions in Science Fiction,” A Short (Story) Blast of the Future from the Past: Classics of Science Fiction Short Stories Seminar, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arizona (OLLI-UA), September 30, 2014. 
  • “Teaching Martians in Tucson, Elves in Arizona: Engaging Students with Genre Literature,” with Gloria McMillan, Smarty Gras: Celebrating Playful Ways to Energize Ourselves and Our Classrooms, Pima Community College-Downtown Campus, Tucson, AZ, March 1, 2014. 
  • “Harry Potter & the Hero's Journey,” Godric’s Hollow Group, Longmont, CO, May 6, 2013. 
  • “Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters,” Grey Havens Group, Longmont, CO, April 8, 2013. 


•HON 296 – “Honors Independent Study: Harry Potter & Adaptation” (Pima Community College)

•HON 296 – “Honors Independent Study: J.R.R. Tolkien” (Pima Community College)

•HON 101 – “Honors Colloquium” (Pima Community College)

•LITA5304 – “Modern Fantasy I” (forthcoming, Signum University) 

•LITB5303 – “The Dystopian Tradition” (Signum University) 

•LITA5312 – “Tolkien’s Wars and Middle-earth” (Signum University) 

•LITA5303 – “The Harry Potter Saga” (Signum University) 

•LITC5303 – “Folkloric Transformations” (Signum University) 

•LITB5308 – “The Inklings and Science Fiction” (Signum University)

•BBA 305W – “Business Communications” (Northern Arizona University)

Additional Information


  • Mythopoeic Society, member
  • Tolkien Society, member
  • Tolkien @Kalamazoo, member

Other Roles

  • Librarian/Library Department Head—Northwest Campus, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona, USA (2001/2009-present)
  • Preceptor, Signum University (online), Nashua, New Hampshire, USA, (2016-present)
  • Honors Instructor, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona, USA (2013-present)
  • Adjunct Instructor, Northern Arizona University (online), Flagstaff, Arizona, USA (2008-2017)