Anahit Behrooz

Thesis title: Mapping Middle-earth: Cartographic Practices in J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium


Anahit has an M.A. from the University of Oxford in French and German, and an M.Litt. from the University of St Andrews in Comparative Literature, where she wrote her dissertation on manifestations of fear in the short stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Edgar Allan Poe. Throughout her studies, Anahit has always been drawn to narratives of the fantastic, the monstrous, and the uncanny, which finally culminated in the decision to pursue a PhD on J.R.R. Tolkien's works. Her research examines cartographic practices in Tolkien's Middle-earth, exploring how these maps allow Tolkien to explore and expand on both geographical and political aspects of worldbuilding.

Anahit is the co-founder and co-convener of the Fantasy and Folklore reading group and was joint recipient of the Researcher-Led Initiative Fund, used to organise the 2017 University of Edinburgh conference Deeper than Swords: Fear and Loathing in Fantasy and Folklore. She served as co-editor of FORUM: The Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts, and edited Issue 23 'Readers and Writers' (with Matthew Tibble) and Issue 24 'Taboo' (with Vicki Madden), and organised the English Literature Work in Progress seminars for the academic year 2017/2018. She also worked as a writer and editor at Inciting Sparks, an interdisciplinary, multimedia blog which shares insights into arts and humanities research, and was a reader for the James Tait Black Prize in 2016. She was a co-organiser for Cultivating Perspectives on Landscapes, a SGSAH-funded conference and series of postgraduate training workshops, which took place at the University of St Andrews in November 2017. She also designed a school session based on her research as part of the Bodleian Library's Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition. Outside of the university, Anahit works as a research volunteer at the Scottish National Gallery, and as a writer and editor at the online magazine Culture Trip.



2017 £2500 SGSAH Cohort Development Fund

2016 £1370 University of Edinburgh Researcher Led Initiative Fund

Undergraduate teaching

Tutor for Scottish Literature 1

Tutor for English Literature 2

Research summary

Anahit's current research focuses on depictions of mapmaking and map reading in Tolkien's legendarium. Her PhD thesis considers the use of maps as a diagetic device, examining how the characters interact with maps, and through this define the limits of their place in the world, negotiate their way through unfamiliar territory, and pass on their knowledge to others. Her thesis aims to demonstrate how Tolkien uses fictional cartography in order to frame and construct his characters' relationships with their geographical, historical, and political environments.

More broadly, Anahit is interested in fantasy, children's literature, and fairy tales - with a particular focus on ecocritical, feminist and postcolonial readings - Gothic and neomedieval literature, worldbuilding theory, monstrosity, medieval manuscript culture, and the intersection between art and literature.

Articles and Book Chapters

"Temporal Topographies: Mapping the Geological and Anthropological Effects of Time in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium". Tolkien and Literary Worldbuilding. Zurich: Walking Tree Publishers, 2018. (Upcoming).

"Cartographic Constructions: Literary Geography and Mapping in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings". Fastitocalon. Vol. 6. 2017.

"In the face of danger: Lúthien's challenge to Middle-Earth". Dangerous Women Project. Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, University of Edinburgh. October 2016.

"Good versus Evil: Representations of the Monstrous in Thirteenth Century Anglo-French Apocalypse Manuscripts".  FORUM: The Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts. June 2016.

"Wicked Women: The Stepmother as a Figure of Evil in the Grimms' Fairy Tales". Retrospect Journal. April 2016.


Blog Posts

"Empty Words: The Politics of Performing Change". Inciting Sparks. January 2018.

"Communicating the Upside Down: Meaning Making and Semiotics in Netflix's Stranger Things". Inciting Sparks. November 2017.

"Orientalist Fantasies: Reclaiming the Middle East in Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran". Project Myopia. July 2017.

"Defying The Canon: Fanfiction As The New Literature". Inciting Sparks. May 2016.

"In Defence of the Dark Arts: Academic Resistance to the Fantastic". Inciting Sparks. November 2015.


"“But no living man am I!”: Constructing and Empowering the Female Voice in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium". International Medieval Congress. University of Leeds. July 2018.

"And all Beleriand was shattered and changed: Mapping Cataclysm and Deep Time in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium". Tolkien Seminar. University of Augsburg. October 2017.

"Forces of Nature: Mapping Difficult Landscapes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings". Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung. University of Vienna. September 2017.

"Mappa Mundi to Mappa Middle-earth: Positioning J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth Map Between Medieval and Modern Practices". International Medieval Congress. University of Leeds. July 2017.

"Mapping the Middle: Navigating Between the Old and New in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth Cartography". Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations. University of Glasgow. March 2017.

"Visible Ink: Supplementing and Destabilising the Narrative in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series". Mensageiros das Estrelas. University of Lisbon. November 2016.

"Home is behind, the world ahead: Reading Maps and the Landscape in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit". ESSE Galway. August 2016.

"I have no memory of this place: Mapping Imaginary Places in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit". Everywhere and Nowhere: An Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Symposium on Imagined Spaces. University of Nottingham. June 2016. 


Formal Presentations and Seminars

"This Land Is My Land: Mapping Colonialism and Imperialism in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium". English Literature Department WiP Research Seminar. University of Edinburgh. March 2018.

"The Memory of the World: Maps as Vehicles for Historic Narrative in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium". Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society Seminar. University of Edinburgh. November 2017.

"Girl, Look At That Body: Monstrous Bodies and the Other in Medieval Thought". LLC Blethers. University of Edinburgh. February 2016.

"The Storyteller-Listener Dynamic in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Book of Lost Tales". English Literature Department WiP Research Seminar. University of Edinburgh. January 2016.