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 philosophical aspects of Tolkien’s world-building in the pursuit of perfection by focusing on Christian scholastic philosophy on the Fall and the Platonic Realm of Forms. 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 philosophy as a major “Secondary World Infrastructure”, as per Wolf’s terminology (2012, p. 154-5). 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 on behalf of lesser deities, Elves and Men, to restore the world, or at least recover glimpses of the originally envisioned “perfect” world, via art.

There are clear philosophical resonances in this world-building vision: a) the Christian tradition of the prelapsarian, perfect world; and b) Plato’s theory of Ideas and our world only as an imitation of ideal perfect Forms that cannot be achieved but only momentarily envisioned while creating art. This PhD 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


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


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

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