Archives for April 2008

The Platypus As Postmodern Mammal: Understanding Rowling’s Depth and Success

Okay, Wizard Rock is a blast but it’s time to put Potter-mania and Fandom aside and get back to the books and some serious thinking, folks. Here are three notes on Umberto Eco and how to think about the narrative of the Harry Potter stories, especially about why it resonates so universally.

The first is a delightful introduction to the man himself in I Invented Dan Brown, a Jerusalem Post interview with Italian novelist and semiotics professor Umberto Eco: [Read more…]

Wizard Rockumentary Review: HogPro Reporter Arabella Figg At Spokane World Premiere

A Guest post — with photos — from HogPro stringer (and real-life Spokesman-Review freelance correspondent in Spokane, WA), Arabella Figg! Thank you, Arabella, for this Exclusive:

A Rockumentary That’s Wizard!

By Arabella Figg (Deborah Chan, Muggle Alias)—April 18, 2008

“Arabella, please send us a full report!”—John Granger

When John Granger announced at Hogwarts Professor that young twin sisters and filmmakers Megan and Mallory Schuyler had made a documentary feature film on Harry Potter wizard rock and the world premiere was in my hometown of Spokane, WA I was floored.

Wizard rock? Enough of it for a documentary? Made by Spokanites? I could attend a unique Harry Potter event? Wow!

My fan participation has been limited to HogPro. I knew nothing of the wizard rock subculture and was eager to have my Harry Potter horizons broadened.

The Filmmakers

“I feel we’ve grown up through this project.”—Megan Schuyler
“It’s our contribution.”—Mallory Schuyler

Megan, Deborah, and Mallory

(Mallory, Deborah, and Megan: photo by Richard Chan)

The Schuylers (Griffinclaw Productions) traveled cross-country for two years to document wizard rock and its musicians of all ages, styles and creativity. It was Mallory who coined the term “rocking and rowling.” [Read more…]

Stag Patronus in Forest of Dean!

Hard as it may be to believe, we have live footage.

Your thoughts?

I’ve heard the saying “life imitating art” before — but “nature echoing art” is a first for me. Any precedence for this sort of thing in your experience?

Or should we be thinking that as a child Ms. Rowling saw an albino stag in the Forest of Dean? It would certainly have made seeing the St. Godric icon with white stag or reading about the Narnian albino a different experience than most of us had.

JKR: “Fame is something I have to get through.”

From the Telegraph’s article describing The 100 most powerful people in British culture:

#14 J.K. Rowling, 42, author. Harry Potter brought her fame and fortune, and she in turn has given a break to the British film industry, by insisting the films of her books be shot in Britain with an all-British cast. Has said:

‘I never wanted [fame] and I never expected it and certainly didn’t work for it, and I see it as something that I have to get through, really.’

She has made four assertions about fame here, each of which is counter-cultural in a celebrity-consumed world: fame isn’t an end to be desired in itself, or expected, or worked for, or, when thrust upon the unwilling, to be neglected as a chore (lest it eat you for lunch).

Two thoughts for your discussion beyond grading her efforts to “get through [it]:”

(1) How much of Harry Potter’s response to fame is an echo of Ms. Rowling’s beliefs as stated?

(2) Is she right about fame?

Ms. Rowling: “My books are about death”

”Any guide to the Harry Potter books should have a lengthy entry on death,” Rowling said. ”It is probably the major theme of the whole seven-book series, and it appears in so many different ways.”

Class Assignment: Name up to three different ways in which the major theme of death appears in the Harry Potter series of novels. Discuss.

Alternative assignment: If death is not a “major theme” in these novels, identify one or more of those themes in which death plays some part. Discuss these themes and what light they shine on the mystery and meaning of death.