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The spiritual Tolkien milieu : a study of fiction‐based religion

Markus Davidsen defended his thesis on 16 October 2014

Markus Davidsen
16 October 2014
Leiden University Repository

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the organisation and development of the spiritual Tolkien milieu, a largely online-situated network of individuals and groups that draw on J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary mythology for spiritual inspiration. It is the first academic treatment of Tolkien spirituality and one of the first mono¬graphs on fiction-based religion, a type of religion that uses fiction as authori¬ta¬tive texts. Adopting a semiotic approach to religion, the book raises questions about the persuasive power of narrative, about religious blending, and about rationalisation of beliefs. How can some readers come to believe that supernatural agents from fictional narratives are real? How do fiction-based religions emerge when their authoritative texts lack important religious building-blocks, such as descriptions of rituals? And how do adherents of fiction-based religions legitimise their beliefs, given the fact that their religion is based on fiction? In short, with Tolkien religion as a case the dissertation aims to uncover the semio¬tic structures and processes involved in the construction and maintenance of fiction-based religion, and the social structures that sup¬port the plausibility of such religion.

Promotor: A.F. de Jong

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