PhD Research

I completed my PhD in 2020. To read the PhD thesis, you can go here.

Below is a summary of the project that led to the thesis, and I share it here for two reasons:

  1. For transparency for researchers who may be interested in running a similar study.
  2. Other publications are likely to come from this project, so this will provided needed background for those as well.

My PhD research investigates how young readers interpret J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This page is dedicated to giving information about that project to individuals who may be interested in participating in the study. If you are interested, read on!

The data gathering for this research is complete, and I am in the last stages of completing my PhD and starting to look into options for publication. Please follow my blog for updates as they become available!

For the most recent updates, see these blog posts:

From this point on, the page appears as it did when recruiting participants for the project, except email addresses have been removed.


Project Description

Summary of Project

The purpose of this PhD research is to: (1) examine children’s perceptions and experience of reading The Lord of the Rings; and (2) evaluate the differences between children’s interpretations and the interpretations shown in Tolkien scholarship.


Participant Limitations:

Participants must:

  • Currently be ages 8-18 (inclusive)
  • Have read The Lord of the Rings in English
    • minimum requirement is completion of The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Have appropriate consent forms signed and sent in prior to the interview or survey
    • See forms below
    • the researcher will fill out the portions about taking consent on the day of the interview after verbal confirmation
  • Have the ability to use Skype or meet the researcher for the interview


What Do Participants Do?

The project is split into two parts. First, participants complete a survey that asks some questions about The Lord of the Rings. All of the answers are your opinion, so there are no right or wrong answers! Second, you will look at some landscape and interior pictures with the researcher and answer questions about The Lord of the Rings. Again, there are no right or wrong answers, the researcher wants to know your opinion. The pictures will help us have a good conversation about the book! This conversation will be audio recorded to help the researcher accurately recall what you say.


What Happens With My Answers?

Image copyright Ted Nasmith, used with permission

The data from all participants will be compiled and trends/themes will be identified. Individual responses may be quoted in presentations or publications, but the identity of participants will never be revealed.

If you would like more information, consent forms and information sheets are available from the researcher. These will also be provided to participants and guardians prior to participation.


Do I have the right to withdraw from the project when I want?

Yes, participation is voluntary and any participant is free to withdraw from the project at any time without penalty and without giving any reason. If you choose to withdraw after data has been collected, but prior to any possible publication, your data will be destroyed and not included in the study.


Will anonymity be protected?

Yes, every effort will be made to maintain anonymity. The results from this research will be compiled and included in a PhD thesis. Individual responses will remain anonymous. Access to the data will be restricted to the researcher, their supervisors, and markers.


About the Researcher

Profile Pic

Luke Shelton is a PhD student in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow and also teaches as an adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University. He recently received East Tennessee State University’s Allen Award for Outstanding Graduate student and currently serves as the Assistant Technical editor of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies. He received his M.A. in English Literature from East Tennessee State University in May of 2017.


Project Supervisor

Dr. Dimitra Fimi, Lecturer in Fantasy and Children’s Literature at University of Glasgow [email removed].


Ethics Approval

[Here I had provided contact information fro the different ethics approval bodies at Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of Glasgow. If you were a participant and would like this information, please send me an email using the “Contact” page of the website.]

8 thoughts on “PhD Research

  1. Kate

    I would take part if it’s still open.
    But we’d have to communicate online because I live in Europe.
    But that’s alright, right?


    1. Most of the interviews so far have used Skype! If you are interested, please read the information sheets, then send sign the assent form and have a parent or guardian sign the consent form and send them to me. Then we can set up an interview!


    1. Hi Adam,
      What most people have done is print off the consent forms, fill them out, and then scan and email them to the email listed on the page. You can always email me if this is not possible for you and we can see if we can find an alternative!–Luke


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