I started the Tolkien Experience Project because one of the first things that comes up when Tolkien fans get into a shared space is the desire to bond over our experiences of Tolkien’s work. This is a wonderful impulse that draws us together as a fan and scholarly community!
When I tell people that my PhD Research focuses on the experience of young readers of Tolkien, they often ask if they can participate even if they are over the age of eighteen. Unfortunately, people older than eighteen fall outside of the scope of that research.
Instead of turning those people away, though, and missing the chance to hear about their significant experiences with Tolkien, I have created this side project. It will serve as a way for readers who cannot participate in my PhD research to still share their stories with the rest of us!
The basic format is that participants reflect on a set of five questions, and then respond to them in short-answer format. This means that answers can be one sentence, or a few paragraphs! The great thing is that there are no wrong answers, because you are just sharing your own experience!
The questions are:
- How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
- What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
- What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
- Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
- Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
These questions are intentionally vague to allow contributors to talk about a variety of things. ‘Tolkien’s work’ is not meant to exclude adaptations, so feel free to share your experiences about movies, video games, board games, etc. All of these are important experiences in your fan history! If you want to use ‘part’ n question two to talk about a specific scene from a book, great! You could also use ‘part’ to talk about your favorite book in general.
Participants can take as much time as they need to answer these questions, then they send their answers to me using the Contact page on my website or by direct email. I usually respond directly to the participant once or twice to clarify what they would like to be called on the post and to fix typos, but the answers are largely unedited/unfiltered.
Once all of the information is finalized, I will schedule the post to appear on my blog in the order it was finalized. I post a new response every Tuesday at 8:00 A.M. (EST/EDT). Posting each submission as a separate blog post and limiting them to one each week allows time for visitors to see and respond to each participant’s experience. This was the best way that I could think of to respect the time and effort of each contributor.
The hope is that this will be a way to foster more community around our interesting, unique, and diverse experiences of Tolkien!
If you would like to participate, you can use the form on the Contact page to send your answers to me, or email me your answers directly!
For full transparency, I should mention that no participants ‘get anything’ out of the project other than the opportunity to share their Tolkien experience. I do allow participants to include a link to their blog or social media site if they wish, so that other Tolkien fans can follow them and create a larger Tolkien community.
Below is a catalogue of previously published contributions:
- Tolkien Experience Project Launch
- Tom H’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (1)
- Rhiuial’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (2)
- Old Badger-brock’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (3)
- Olga Polomoshnova’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (4)
- Geoffrey B. Elliott’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (5)
- Joe Hoffman’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (6)
- BlueberryMuffins76’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (7)
- Richard Rowland’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (8)
- PL’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (9)
- Andrew Higgins’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (10)