Heaney’s introduction to his translation of Beowulf praises Tolkien’s ‘epoch-making paper’, a lecture delivered in 1936 entitled ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’. I found several versions online and liked this one, covered in the handwritten notes of a previous reader. I will read it next.
Imagine if every time an academic wanted to submit a paper, they had to answer the question: ‘Explain to what extent and in what way your paper is epoch-making?’
Publications lists would be slashed, journals slimmed, and quality might go through the roof.
Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), p. xi