Navigating an imagined Middle–earth: Finding and analyzing text–based and film–based mental images of Middle–earth through online fan community

Jennifer M. Grek Martin, Anatoliy Gruzd, Vivian Howard


The proliferation of social media brings new opportunities to discover the ways in which we receive, process, and disseminate information — even information that seems confined to our imaginations. Mental imagery — those images we create in our imaginations as we read a text or watch a film — is not well understood. Netlytic, a Web-based system for automated text analysis, permitted the capture and analysis of online discussions relating to mental images of J.R.R. Tolkien’s and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings as text and as film adaptation, giving insight to our understanding of mental imagery as a form of human cognition and information processing. Furthermore, this study serves as a starting point for further development of academic research using Web-based text analysis systems and online communities.


automated text analysis; online fan communities; Tolkien

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