Reviewed by: Christine Oka, Research & Instruction, Northeastern University Libraries, Boston, MA
Published since 2014 by the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources, Library Services, at Valparaiso University in Indiana, the Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR) is an open access, peer-reviewed journal accessible through the university repository, ValpoScholar: Digital Scholarly, Publishing, Preservation. The journal’s goal is to provide “high-quality research and scholarship based on the words of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) and on transformative and derivative texts based on his work to a wide and diverse audience. This journal will focus on multi-and interdisciplinary approaches to Tolkien studies, including gaming, media and literary adaptations, fan productions, and audience reception.”
There were few articles in Initial volumes--1 and 2 were single issues, volume 3 reflects growing scholarship and interest in Tolkien research; there are three issues with peer-reviewed articles, conference papers and book reviews. Information about the journal peer review process, which is handled using an online editorial system, notes “content will be published immediately once peer reviewers and editors have deemed it ready for publication. Content will be bundled on a yearly basis and given an issue number to assist authors and libraries in citing work and managing dissemination.” Other author information regarding open access: “Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI (Budapest Open Access Initiative) definition of Open Access.”
The latest, volume 3, issue 3 is a special issue, “Authorizing Tolkien: Control, Adaptation, and Dissemination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Works.” While fans and critics avidly analyze and discuss the adaptations of Tolkien’s works, Christian Tolkien is unenthusiastic about the resulting commercialization of his father’s works. “There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.” The special issue covers the inevitable film adaptations. Peer-reviewed articles include
“The effort to translate”: Fan Film Culture and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien which draws on Tolkien’s observation in the preface “On Translating Beowulf”, “The effort to translate, or to improve a translation, is valuable, not so much for the version it produces, as for the understanding of the original which it awakes.” Tolkien had translated Beowulf from the Old English into modern English “as a practical exercise in learning a new language:” His observation could also be applied to the the debates related to the 2001-2003 Lord of the Rings film trilogy by Peter Jackson. The article discusses film as less a translation (no vocabulary, grammar), and the gathering point for critics and fans. “For instance, Dimitri Fimi points out that Jackson’s filming of The Lord of the Rings presented ‘interesting problems’ not just for the technical demands of addressing such a complex text, but also “given the necessary consideration of the expectations (and demands?) of Tolkien fans.” Fans have created adaptations in new formats, “other artifacts from fan film culture,” such as youtube videos of “The Silmarillion Series,” a 70-minute fan film, “Born of Hope” about Aragorn’s parents and his childhood community, or fan created soundtracks or fancasts, which are “visually similar to edits, or modified graphics in which the fan-producer uses images, textures, and/or text to visualize, re-visualize, or stylize some aspect of the source material.”
JTR is accessible through Digital Commons software powered by be Press. Each article title page links to Abstract and Recommended Citation. The ValpoScholar platform includes a world map with counts of article downloads and the location of the reader. The locations are continually changing, and range from Irving, Texas to Krakow, Poland. The most popular (downloaded) paper is the book review of “Tolkien and Sanskrit” followed by the article, “Attainable Vistas: Historical Bias in Tolkien’s Legendarium as a Motive for Transformative Fanworks,” both from the current issue.