Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Final Project: New Tribunal Temple

Posted by faythleighann on May 10, 2017

Lauren Ivey, Sean Hull, Fayth Rose


For our final project we have chosen to create the New Tribunal Temple, a site based on religious doctrine from the 2002 role-playing game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, whose Tribunal Temple faith offers a surprising degree of depth and room for analysis. Though fans of Elder Scrolls lore have created many in-depth analyses of its content, respecting both the game’s internal lore and the actual religions on which Elder Scrolls religions such as the Tribunal faith are based, our project intends to ineptly make use of Tribunal Temple doctrine and use it as a basis for satirical commentary on religion in general.

Intended to be a satirical examination of religious individuals’ tendency to misinterpret doctrine to suit their ends, the site features articles from all three group members, with each individual bringing their own interpretation of various in-game texts to bear. As two thirds of our group is unfamiliar with the setting of the Elder Scrolls games, this has produced some interesting analyses which serve to illustrate the difficulty inherent in examining a fandom without prior knowledge of its context: inspired by the misunderstanding of pro wrestling borne from its fans’ use of kayfabe, we thought it would be interesting to intentionally produce this misunderstanding by deliberately exploiting our group members’ incomprehension of the topic at hand, while also manufacturing a product that may be taken as somewhat serious by outside observers. This creates a unique scenario: rather than simply confusing audience members who are unfamiliar with Elder Scrolls lore, our groups members themselves are unfamiliar with the material they are commenting on, creating a uniquely inept interpretation that ought to provide a unique experience to all viewers.

It also serves as an experiment in fan interaction with fiction, similar to the example of fans impersonating Mad Men characters on twitter given in Spreadable Media’s introduction. However, rather than impersonating specific individuals, our project is instead an attempt to replicate the general religious sentiments of Morrowind’s Tribunal Temple, an experiment in impersonating an institution rather than a character. This aspect of the project is primarily Sean’s focus, as his increased familiarity with the Elder Scrolls is less conducive to ridiculous interpretations, but more conducive to convincing impersonation of Tribunal Temple priests.

We offer for consideration commentary from the members of our group project unfamiliar with the Elder Scrolls. This insight adds to the allusion that false interpretations can be made fairly easily and seem convincing even when they aren’t. Lauren’s and Fayth’s partake of the articles demonstrates our focus of the project. Through the comparison of the articles written by less knowledgeable authors and the more informed author, we it is evident that the context of the doctrine has been twisted to portray the beliefs of the individual and not the original context of the piece. Through this unique point of view, the first-hand experience falsified knowledge being spread through media.

A corollary to our project is our Facebook page, which is intended to narrow the focus of our cultural criticism by briefly satirizing the tendency of some religious Facebook users to make and distribute meme images with shallow and sentimental captions. Though not the primary focus, we hope this small degree of Facebook integration will serve to increase the immersion of our project, while also further blurring the line between the fictional world we seek to emulate and the real world into which it has been ineptly inserted.


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