It's really stupid that Tolkienists should have to be on the defensive about their studies. Tolkien was a scholar himself, and he created his world out of his studies. It only makes *sense* to study him, even more so than much of the English lit "classics." And the bit about it being too mainstream... all of those "classics" were once mainstream too, sheesh. :-P That and Tolkien has only gone uber-mainstream since the movies, and Tolkienists have been at it for much longer.
Bah. I'll stop ranting. It's an interesting article though, even if they didn't interview some of the people you'd think they would.