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UJ, only SA university participating in global study on The Hobbit films

Dr Michele Tager, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Department of Journalism, Film and Television, is leading the South African leg of The World Hobbit Project.

The World Hobbit Project is an international research project, aimed to establish how audiences across the world respond to The Hobbit trilogy. 46 researchers across the world are participating.

Ultimately the goal is to gauge responses to the films in different national and cultural contexts, to determine how audiences in different countries relate to the films and make sense of them. The larger the sample, the more opportunity for comparative analysis.

Dr Tager said: “What makes South Africa so interesting, is that our population is so diverse in culture and language. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for UJ and for the department. As Tolkien’s stories are essentially myths, it will be fascinating to see how local audiences from different backgrounds relate to the films and make sense of them from the unique perspectives of their own culture and language.”

Dr Tager’s research interest is in film and television audiences. She was approached about participating in the international project by Prof Martin Barker from Aberystwyth University in the UK. “As an individual researcher, it has been an incredible experience engaging with other academics across the globe, all working to the same end.” The same team led by Prof Barker, undertook a similar project in 2003/4 on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy which involved around 23 countries. Tager concludes: “Given the sheer volume of data, the research will take several months to an​​​alyse. Results will be published widely in the form of academic papers for journal publication and possibly a book.”

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