The World Hobbit Project in Finland – Uses of Fantasy

Uses of Fantasy is the Finnish sub-project of the World Hobbit Research Project. It is currently funded by The Finnish Cultural Foundation (for one year, starting in 2016). In 2008 Martin Barker, Emeritus Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Aberystwyth, launched the international comparative research on The Lord of the Rings film adaptation trilogy, and in 2014 the new international reception study about the The Hobbit film trilogy commenced in 46 countries and 38 languages with an online survey (Barker et. al. 2014–15). The data (36 000 responses) collected via the survey was expected to open up new research questions about the global reception of the trilogy, and the production, activity and meaning-making processes of the members of the audience.

The Finnish sub-project Uses of Fantasy is coordinated by Research Centre for Contemporary Culture at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The project focuses on the following questions:

1. What is the meaning of fantasy to the respondents, and what does fantasy bring to their lives

2. How are questions of identity, fandom and cultural consumption visible in the meaning-making processes of the respondents

3. What kinds of transmedial strategies of media use can be found through the practices of media use as reported in the data

4. How do conceptions of national, territorial and cultural identity affect the processes of meaning-making as well as strategies of reception within the audience of the Hobbit trilogy?

The responses of the Finnish audience to The Hobbit films are scrutinized through these questions, using the websites and internet discussions of Tolkien and fantasy fans as background. The questions will shed light of the personal views in cross national analyses of the appeal of this transnational phenomenon.

The research is led by PhD Irma Hirsjärvi (University of Jyväskylä, Finland). Other members of the research team are PhD Aino-Kaisa Koistinen (University of Jyväskylä), PhD Jyrki Korpua (University of Oulu), PhD, Professor Raine Koskimaa (University of Jyväskylä), PhD Urpo Kovala (University of Jyväskylä) and doctoral students Maria Ruotsalainen and Tanja Välisalo.

More information:

The survey:

Barker, Martin, et al. The World Hobbit Project. Online-Survey. Aberystwyth, UK. 2014-15. Finnish survey translated by Irma Hirsjärvi, Jyrki Korpua, and Urpo Kovala.

The World Hobbit Project elsewhere: