Possible Paper Topic: Tolkien and the Beats

The Christopher Tolkien memorial symposium has re-inspired me to think about comparisons between Tolkien and the Beat writers, specifically because I think they are the closest example we have of another author for whom there is possibly as much documentation of the creative process as there is for Tolkien. Anne Charters, Kerouac's first biographer and one of the few Beat scholars to have actually met him, stated that he kept meticulous and exhaustive records of almost every draft/letter/etc. Unfortunately most of this material has not been made exceedingly available to my understanding, but I certainly don't have enough reliable information to justify bad mouthing the estate for overzealous gate keeping. Regardless, as the field stands now the primary way one approaches Beat studies seems to be not through the examination of a specific author's drafts, but through crossreferencing multiple authors' descriptions of the same events (atl least, that's the way I've approached it from my amateur perspective). After all, since they spent so much time together, a single incident will often appear in multiple texts, meaning that one can sometimes use the broader Beat corpus in such a way as to aproximate the kind of documentary flood Tolkien scholars have been blessed with tanks to Christopher's diligence. Of course, one must approach such an enterprise with caution, but I think a comparison and contrast between Beat studies and Tolkien studies in this regard might be fascinating.

On a related note, the coincidental fact that On the Road and Return of the King were published in the same year has always intrigued me, and lead me to make other comparisons between the two. Specifically, I think a dual character study of Dean Moriarty and Tom Bombadil might be worth attempting., especially since the 60s counterculture was so strongly inspired by both.

I'm not actually proposing any of these as formal paper topics for moots because they all require significantly more research and time comittment than I can responsibly make at present, but this way I don't have to worry about forgetting them. Of course, if anyone wants to take a crack at this stuff before I get to it, they're welcome too.