Aslı Bulbul

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Research title: Philosophical Exploration of the Pursuit of Perfection

Research Summary

My PhD research aims to critically examine and theorize the nature of creation by looking into the metaphysics of Tolkien’s world-building and the roles of light and art imageries in diegetic world-building. I take the dynamic interplay approach in critical world-building within a Neoplatonic and prelapsarian framework. Tolkien’s world-building has been examined from the perspectives of mythology, culture, language and nature (e.g. Shippey 2003; Fimi 2009; Curry 1997). There is substantially less scholarship devoted to the nature and characteristics of world-building as per Wolf’s terminology (2012). In Tolkien’s cosmogony, the world is conceived in thought by the godhead (Eru Ilúvatar) but it is marred from its very beginning by a fallen deity. The remainder of Tolkien’s mythology is – in essence – a quest of diegetic world-building by imitating the originally envisioned “perfect” world, via artefacts containing light.

There are clear philosophical resonances in light and art imageries in their engagement with diegetic world-building: a) the Christian tradition of the prelapsarian, perfect world giving hope to the fallen mankind; b) Neoplatonic emanation in the world; and c) artistic creativity as imitation of the Platonic vision. This PhD thus critically analyses Tolkien’s legendarium via different philosophical lenses, focusing on Plato and Christian scholastic philosophy. It examines The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings and The History of Middle-earth series to trace these ideas in Tolkien’s legendarium over time and assess their role in his world-building.


  • 2014: “The Common Humane Sharing in Different Mythologies of The Lord of the Rings and 1984,”İstanbul Aydın University Journal (İAÜD), Year 4, Number 16, Pages 1-12. ISSN: 1309-1352
  • 2017: “The Elven Perspective of Life, Death and Immortality, and Its Influence on Humanity,” Peter Roe Series XVII (Proceedings of the Tolkien Society Seminar 2016), Pages 85-98. ISBN: 978-1-911143-33-8
  • 2018: "The Nature of Arda: An Artwork as the Embodiment of the Flame Imperishable," Peter Roe Series XIX (Proceedings of the Tolkien Society Seminar 2018), Pages 20-30. ISBN: 978-1-911143-79-6


Grants & Awards

• The University of Glasgow, College of Arts, 21.02.2019, £218: Research Support Award to provide assistance with the support costs of attending an upcoming conference




  • 2014       Myth-Making across Boundaries, Ege University, İzmir
  • 2016       International Graduate Conference, Hacettepe University, Ankara
  • 2016       26th Conference on British and American Studies, The West University of Timişoara, Romania
  • 2016       The 2nd Language, Culture and Literature Workshop, Akdeniz University, Antalya
  • 2016       The Tolkien Society Seminar, The Tolkien Society, Leeds
  • 2018       Breaking Boundaries, Cardiff University, Cardiff
  • 2018       Annual Postgraduate Symposium, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff
  • 2018       The Tolkien Society Seminar, The Tolkien Society, Leeds
  • 2018       Oxonmoot, The Tolkien Society, Oxford
  • 2019       Symposium on Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow, Glasgow
  • 2019       Leeds International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds
  • 2019       Tolkien 2019, Birmingham


  • PhD Tutor: Tutoring Key Stage 4 & 5 pupils about my PhD project within the scope of the charity the Brilliant Club (2018 - ...)

Additional Information


  • Member of the Tolkien Society
  • Peer reviewer for Exclamat!on, Postgraduate-led journal at the University of Exeter


Other Roles

  • ERASMUS Teaching Mobility, 2016: The Witelon State University of Applied Sciences in Legnica, Poland