Drout has clearly spent a lot of time defending his scholarly interest in the works of Tolkien. As Drout discusses Tolkien a portrait of Drout begins to emerge as well. Drout was deeply affected by reading Tolkien at a young age, but unlike many Tolkien devotees who went onto to become Fantasy writers themselves, Drout followed Tolkien's scholarly path and became a professor of Anglo-Saxon and Old English literature.
Drout's knowledge of the old languages of northern Europe gives him a unique insight into Tolkien's material. He points out Anglo-Saxon words and terms that Tolkien worked into names in his Middle Earth stories; references that would be lost on all but a handful of specialist scholars. This is one of the grounds that Drout uses to justify serious study of Tolkien.
Most literary critics dismiss Tolkien's novels as popular escapist fiction, or else openly denigrate his style and subject matter. Drout argues that Tolkien is giving readers a glimpse of a literary tradition that might have been if English writers had persisted in the tradition of Beowulf and Siegfried rather than adopting the styles and subject matter of southern Europe during the Renaissance. It is an interesting argument. Personally I do not believe any justification is required to study a work of fiction that has has such an impact as Tolkien's, in spite of the biases of the critics.