Matthew T. Dickerson

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Matthew T. Dickerson is a professor of computer science at Middlebury College in Vermont,[1] a scholar of the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien and the Inklings, a novelist, a blues musician and historian of music, a fly fisherman, a maple sugar farmer, and a beekeeper.[2]


Dickerson received an A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1985,[1] and a Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University, under the supervision of Dexter Kozen, in 1989.[3] His Ph.D. research was in symbolic computation, but since then he has worked primarily in computational geometry; his most frequently cited computer science papers[4] concern k-nearest neighbor algorithms[5] and minimum-weight triangulation.[6] He has been on the Middlebury faculty since receiving his Ph.D.[2]

From 1997 to 2001 Dickerson published a biweekly column on fishing and the outdoors in the Addison Independent, a local newspaper.[7] Since 2002 he has been the director of the New England Young Writers Conference,[8] an annual four-day conference for high school students in Bread Loaf, Vermont that is associated with Middlebury College. He is also the founding director of the Vermont Conference on Christianity and the Arts.[8][9] He plays bass in a Vermont-based blues band, Deep Freyed.[10]

Tolkien scholarship[edit]

He is the author of six non-technical books, most of them about fantasy fiction. His 2003 book Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings,[11] a study of the moral and Christian values expressed by Tolkien's works, highlights the contrasts between moral and physical victories, and between heroism and violence; it points out the necessity of having free will in order to make moral choices.[12] It was shortlisted for the Mythopoeic Society's 2004 and 2005 Mythopoeic Scholarship Awards.[13] He has written a pair of books on Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and environmentalism, Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien[14][15] and Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis.[16][17] Despite giving the first of these two books an overall negative review, reviewer Patrick Curry writes that it is "a major new contribution to the subject of Tolkien's work".[15]

Other books[edit]

His other books include The Finnsburg Encounter.[18] a work of historical fiction, translated into German as Licht uber Friesland,[19] Hammers and Nails: The Life and Music of Mark Heard,[20] a biography of musician Mark Heard,[21] and From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy.[22][23]


  1. ^ a b Faculty profile Archived 2006-09-13 at the Wayback Machine at Middlebury College, retrieved 2009-11-19.
  2. ^ a b Biography as an invited speaker at the 19th Annual Fall Workshop on Computational Geometry, Tufts University, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  3. ^ Dickerson's research web page Archived 2009-02-09 at the Wayback Machine at Middlebury College, retrieved 2009-11-18.
  4. ^ According to a Google scholar search, 2009-11-19.
  5. ^ Dickerson, Matthew T.; Drysdale, Robert L. (Scot), III; Sack, Jörg-Rüdiger (1992), "Simple algorithms for enumerating interpoint distances and finding k nearest neighbors", International Journal of Computational Geometry and Applications, 2 (3): 221–239, doi:10.1142/S0218195992000147.
  6. ^ Dickerson, Matthew T.; Montague, Mark H. (1996), "A (usually?) connected subgraph of the minimum-weight triangulation", Proceedings of the 12th Annual Symposium on Computational Geometry, ACM, pp. 204–213, doi:10.1145/237218.237364, S2CID 18962760.
  7. ^ Dickerson's Vermont fishing articles Archived 2009-02-12 at the Wayback Machine from his Middlebury College web site. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  8. ^ a b Biography Archived 2010-06-11 at the Wayback Machine as a featured speaker at the Fall 2009 Houghton College Writing Festival. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  9. ^ About us Archived 2009-07-31 at the Wayback Machine, Vermont Conference on Christianity and the Arts. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  10. ^ Deep Freyed Blues Band Archived 2011-02-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  11. ^ Brazos Press, 2003, ISBN 978-1-58743-085-5
  12. ^ Reviews of Following Gandalf: Review by David O'Hara (2004), Christianity Today; Review by Gregory S. Bucher Archived 2009-12-31 at the Wayback Machine (2004), Journal of Religion and Society; Review by Augustine J. Curley (2003), Library Journal; Review by Rudy Regehr Archived 2012-10-03 at the Wayback Machine (2006), Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.
  13. ^ Past finalists for the Mythopoeic Scholarship Awards Archived 2009-08-31 at the Wayback Machine, from the web site of the Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  14. ^ with Jonathan Evans, The University Press of Kentucky, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8131-2418-6
  15. ^ a b Reviews of ''Ents, Elves, and Eriador: Review by Patrick Curry (2007), Tolkien Studies 4: 238–244, doi:10.1353/tks.2007.0010; Review by Susan Palwick (2008), Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 15 (1): 266–268, doi:10.1093/isle/15.1.266.
  16. ^ with David L. O'Hara, The University Press of Kentucky, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8131-2522-0
  17. ^ Reviews of ''Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: Review by Charles C. Nash Archived 2009-01-18 at the Wayback Machine (2008), Library Journal; Jason Peters, The Natural in the Light of the Supernatural (2010), The Review of Politics; Elizabeth Blum, Review of Narnia and the Fields of Arbol (2010), Environmental History; Débora Maldonado-DeOliveira, Review of Narnia and the Fields of Arbol (2011), Rocky Mountain Review; Charles A. Huttar, Review of Narnia and the Fields of Arbol (2009), The C.S. Lewis Journal.
  18. ^ Crossway Books, 1991, ISBN 978-0-89107-604-9
  19. ^ Verlag Schulte & Gerth, 1996, ISBN 3-89437-422-5
  20. ^ Cornerstone Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-940895-49-2
  21. ^ Review of Hammers and Nails: Review by Chris Macintosh (2003), The Phantom Tollbooth.
  22. ^ with David L. O'Hara, Brazos Press, 2006, ISBN 978-1-58743-133-3
  23. ^ Review of From Homer to Harry Potter: Review by Gregory Hartley (2007), Christianity and Literature.