Why Potter Pundits Summer School?

Have you signed up for the Potter Pundits Summer School yet? It’s free for the asking, but you have to sign in at PotterPundits.com  — and it only lasts a week. As of this morning, there are posted video lectures about the two subjects my survey of thousands of Potter-philes revealed were the ones most wanted by serious readers of the Hogwarts Saga, namely, Literary Alchemy and Ring Composition.

With the videos, Summer School students also get transcripts of the talks they can download, an invitation to the live Q&A webinar on Thursday with Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, and bibliographies covering the best academic work (and online posts!) about Ring Composition and Literary Alchemy I’ve run across in my PhD thesis writing. 

So, if you haven’t joined us, why not? It’s all coming down next week and you may miss out.

Maybe you have a few questions.

“What’s the Point, John?”

The point is three-fold. First, for fifteen years I’ve heard complaints about how hard it is to study Harry Potter in any kind of organized way. There’s no interaction with the authors of critical work when you buy a book, academic and fan conferences are an incoherent grab-bag of variable quality ideas, and, like schools, they’re ridiculously expensive in terms of the funds-invested in travel and hotels as well as the take-away reward.

These complaints are justified. We need a way to study the world’s best selling books (and other works by their author) that expands our understanding of them conveniently, affordably, personally, and profoundly.

The Potter Pundits Summer School, in which I am giving away for free several talks I get paid thousands of dollars to give, is my attempt to invent and test a method of sharing a coherent program of Hogwarts study that anyone, anywhere, at anytime, can afford to plug into — and from which that serious reader will take-away a coherent, cohesive introduction to the best in Potter scholarship.


Second, but as important perhaps, when I ask fans at talks and conferences what they most want to know about Harry Potter or from me, I get subject answers like ‘I really want to learn more about narrative slow release and why it works.’ As often as not, though, people tell me that they want to learn how to read, how to recognize when there is more to a text than the surface narrative and the obvious moral or political messaging.

The third point is related to it. I hear the question all the time in conversations with fans in letters and in person, the question I’ve been trying to answer for fifteen years. “What is it about these stories that make us love them more than other stories?” Which brings up in turn the issue, “What is it about story-telling that makes it a defining species trait?” Because whatever Rowling is doing seems to be scratching that itch better than what anyone else has on offer.

The Potter Pundits Summer School is my attempt to use the forum and method I’m creating for online instruction, classes supplemented by interactive webinars and office hours, to teach reading at depth and to explore the many avenues that will lead us to a satisfying answer to “Whence Potter-Mania?”

For the hundreds of you who have signed up at PotterPundits.com to join me on this adventure to invent a method for sharing the best ideas about the Hogwarts Saga conveniently, affordably, personally, and profoundly, thank you very much. Your participation and support means the world to me, more than you could know. Thanks, too, for sharing this one week opportunity with as many friends as you have via social media like FaceBook. The word is spreading.

For those of you who are reading this who haven’t signed up, please do join us! It’s fun, it’s free, and frankly, it’s fascinating. Not to mention, a fabulous opportunity. Where else are you going to get to chat with an Oxford Don about your favorite books and her area of expertise? Sign up is as easy as clicking on this link to PotterPundits.com and signing in there — and, of course, you can unsubscribe from the Pundits mailing list anytime.

I covet, as always, your comments, questions, and corrections.

Potter Pundits Summer School Webinar Oxford’s Beatrice Groves Joins Me for Live Q&A with Summer School Students

I hinted in yesterday’s videos that there was a special guest possibility for the live webinar I’ll be doing this Thursday with those who have registered for our week long Potter Pundits Summer School. Forget the hints! I can confirm that Beatrice Groves, Research Fellow and Lecturer at Trinity College, Oxford University, and author of the ground-breaking Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, will be joining me then to answer the questions of Summer School students.

Ever want to talk with an Oxford don about your favorite books? Forgive me for thinking this may be your one opportunity to do just that. And here’s the bizarre thing. Dr. Groves is as easy-going and friendly as she is brilliant, and, folks, check out my review of her book on Amazon; she’s stellar brilliant.

And all you have to do to join us is register for Summer School! I’ll be sending out webinar invitations Wednesday to everyone who has signed up. Be on that list! (The webinar will be live on Thursday at 3:00 PM Central time; those who can’t make that time can send questions in advance and everyone registered will get a recording of the conversation.) See you then!

‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ Podcast — Hogwarts Professors in Roanoke!

Kathryn McDaniel’s new podcast at MuggleNet.com ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling: Imagination and Fiction in the Age of Harry Potter’ is available today! Her first show features the four HogwartsProfessors — John Granger, Louise Freeman, Elizabeth Baird-Hardy, and Emily Strand — and Lana Whited, the Minister of Magical Education at the Roanoke Potter Festival, published Potter Pundit of renown, and professor at Ferrum College. We got together the night before the Roanoke Festival to talk about our ‘Top Twenty Moments’ from the series in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone‘s publication.

Professor Strand made a delightful short video of the recording session, a Potter Postcard,  you can watch here — or just jump right in to the podcast fun! Be sure to subscribe to ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’; Katy has already recorded two more shows with me as sidekick that have delightful guests and first class conversation about Harry Potter. Leave a comment below and thanks in advance for sharing the link on your preferred social media portal!

A big thank you to Amy at MuggleNet, to Travis Prinzi and Emily Strand for the music, and to Emma Nicholson for editing the show and writing the beautiful theme song lyrics! Woot!

Registration is Now Open for Potter Pundits Summer School: Sign Up Today! First Class? Harry and Literary Alchemy

Register for ‘Potter Pundit Summer School’ Now! Totally Free. One week only, four free talks and a live webinar with limited seating — don’t delay, right?

Please sign up and share the news with your friends by email and social media. Thanks in advance for spreading the news.

PDFs of the transcript for my Literary Alchemy lecture and of a complete bibliography with 47 alchemical guides are posted at the first talk’s web page. Once you register, you’ll be taken there automatically. See you at Potter Pundits Summer School!

Seven Questions for ‘Strike’ TV Talent

I was asked by my friends at MuggleNet for questions to ask “the talent” of the BBC teevee show Strike which premieres tomorrow. Here are the seven questions I sent in after polling the HogwartsProfessor talent. What would you have asked?

(1) Cormoran Strike is an imposing physical presence who is not handsome; he’s described as a hulk (not hunk!) who has “pube hair” and looks like a heavyweight boxer resembling Beethoven. Why in the world did you choose Tom Burke, a beautiful man who is relatively short and decidedly svelte, to play this part? You’ve cast a brilliant actor and leopard to play the part of a rhino, no?

(2) The Strike fandom, small as it is relative to the Kingdom of Potter, reads these mysteries as wonderfully satisfying mysteries in themselves and as Rowling commentaries on the parallel Potter books and her experiences as a writer and celebrity. Have you in your study of these books to prepare for the making of these series discussed the latter amongst yourselves?

(3) Rowling is definitely writing the series as she did Harry Potter with respect to writing books that also serve as chapters in the larger, over-arching mystery. Instead of the back story about the Dark Lord, of course, here we are learning book by book, more about the death of Strike’s mother Leda, the involvement of his father Jonny Rokeby the rock star, Robin’s past and her relationship with Matt, Cormoran’s history with Mad Charlotte, and information about the explosion in Afghanistan that took his leg. Rowling famously shared Snape’s back story with Alan Rickman so he knew where his character was headed and what his motivations were; has she tipped her hand to any of you?

(4) Why teevee? No knock on the quality of small screen production values, which now are as good or better than cinema, but there’s so much more of an audience globally for films and it’s not as if Rowling’s works have not been successfully adapted into blockbusters. Any idea why the Rowling team elected to go small when going blockbuster large would have meant exciting millions more potential readers about the series? [Read more…]