Students awarded for Tolkien submissions; ‘Bilbo Up!’ works on display

The Trine University Writing Center recently concluded a campus-wide event designed to celebrate the words and worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Capitalizing on the international unofficial holiday “Tolkien Reading Day,” the Writing Center presented the Trine community with the challenge to “Bilbo Up!” a call beautifully answered with several area students winning prizes for their written reflections.

Tolkien’s works are renowned across the globe for their lasting appeal and impact on the popular imagination. During the last week of March, the Writing Center invited students, faculty and staff to commemorate Tolkien’s contribution with a special community event that saw the college community coming together to share what Tolkien has meant to them.

Participants shared their Middle-Earth connections by submitting favorite Tolkien quotes, a brief explanation or reflection on why they chose it or find it so meaningful, powerful or compelling and, last but not least, a picture of their own feet out on their own, unique adventure. The goal was to capture the community’s engagement with a shared, mythic story.

The submissions were then turned into custom works of art by local artist and Writing Center Coordinator Naomi Kiskaden. The works are on display in the Writing Center. 

Writing Center Director Cassandra Bausman, Ph.D., said the event exceeded expectations.

“I had thought there would be an interest, based on Trine’s fairly heavy nerd-pride vibe,” she said, “but it was wonderful and really truly impressive to see the breadth of the whole campus coming together to share their appreciation for Tolkien and give testimony to the power of the written word.”

Students from a wide variety of majors participated, as did faculty and staff, from literature and engineering professors to librarians and Trine’s sports information director.

“We’ve ended up creating an art installation from the reflections we received,” Bausman said. “What Naomi made, in essence, is a personalized self-portrait for each submission. Sharing your reactions to literature or sharing quotations you find meaningful is already a deeply personal, fairly intimate act and that, coupled with the foot-selfies we’d asked for, resulted in really special, unique work.”

Students whose submissions were rewarded with a Tolkien-token as prize — a model of the One Ring from “The Lord of the Rings” — were Jordan Blank, a junior English education major from Montpelier, Ohio; Kyla Binfet, a junior forensic science major from Branson, Missouri; Jenna Wilson, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Paulding, Ohio; Megan Miller, a junior professional writing and English studies major from Angola; Noah Workman, a sophomore psychology major from Carmel; Kyle Siegrist, a senior design engineering technology major from Union City; Sam Stein, a senior software engineering major from Fort Wayne; and Nicole Walters a senior chemical engineering major from Sunbury, Ohio. 

Their work along with all of the other “Bilbo Up” portrait/testaments is still on display as a gallery wall in the Writing Center, located in the LINK inside Trine’s Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center, and is open to the community for viewing.