Archives for April 2010

Twilight Panel in NYC Tonight!

Two Quick Announcements!

First, I will be speaking tonight on a panel of Twilight experts at Pace University about our favorite novels set in Forks, Washington. Panelists will include Dr. Nancy Reagin, a Pace Professor and the editor of Twilight and History, and Dr. Birgit Wiedl, a Professor at the University of Innsbruck who contributed the Volturi chapter in History. Another Pace Professor — and unofficial member of the Hogs Head BlogemgamutDr. Gwen Limbach will be moderating the discussion (and contributing to it, I hope!) so it promises to be a fun night with challenging conversation about the intersection of literature, history, and culture, not to mention gender studies. It starts at 7 pm at One Pace Plaza and I hope if you’re a New Yorker (or even if you’re not) that you can come!

Second, after my pleading by email for weeks, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, author of Milton, Spenser and the Chronicles of Narnia: Literary Sources for the C.S. Lewis Novels, English professor and expert on Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, in addition to all things C. S. Lewis, has agreed to join the Hogwarts Professor internet faculty. Her posts will be headed “EBH” in the subject line so we know who is posting what, and, because Prof. Hardy understands blogging software, you can even see pictures in her posts like the one just below. Please join me, All-Pros, in welcoming Prof. Hardy!

Thank you, Elizabeth, for joining the faculty of two here at Hogwarts Professor and for doubling the fun we will have!

EBH: Are you Smarter than an Eighth Grader?

At my college, we had an open house for local eighth graders earlier this week. The folks in charge came up with a theme of finding the “treasure” of learning, so the different areas of the college gamely went along to do pirate displays about their areas. It was great fun, with some terrific displays and games for our visitors. I always love a chance to dress up like a pirate, wave a sword at people, and threaten to have them all flogged (that just doesn’t fly in the classroom, I’m afraid).

As part of our Arts and Sciences Department table (decorated with props I snagged from my son’s room, including a treasure chest full of books), we had a literary treasure hunt game, for which students could supply answers as they came through the displays. I intentionally chose questions about books I would have read myself were I in eighth grade now (shudder!), using those to help students realize they do know what some of these literary terms mean. What’s a protagonist? Oh! Frodo Baggins! Got it! [Read more…]

‘Hunger Games’ Interview at!

Bretney and Josh at interviewed me for their Hunger Games podCast last week — and posted it tonight — Enjoy this Hunger Games PodCast.

We talk about my multi-layered interpretation of Ms. Collins first two Hunger Games books and the Pearl Plot theory throughout so check out those posts before or after listening.

Thank you, Bretney and Josh, for the invitation to chat and for the fun we had talking about Panem and our friends there!

Northwestern and Villanova Harry Potter Classes

Two pieces of news today from the ‘Harry Potter in the Ivory Tower’ front: both Villanova and Northwestern University are offering classes on our favorite boy wizard — and neither is a literature course, per se. Villanova’s class, described in some detail in the article ‘Department debuts Harry Potter course: International relations class topics explained via J.K. Rowling books,’ is essentially about politics, and the Northwestern class (see Harry Potter required reading for new class) is an introduction to Medieval Studies. I wrote Daniel Nexon at Georgetown, the editor of Harry Potter and International Relations (2006), to ask id they were using his boo in the Villanova class; he responded that he didn’t know — but that there were two other classes on this subject being offered at other schools.

I’m not surprised. Harry Potter and Twilight as shared texts are natural vehicles for professors to use as “delivery systems” or “points of entry” for otherwise dreadfully dull and only-for-subject-majors classes. Note the end of the article in which it is reported that the class is already full for next fall and the professor will offer it in future semesters if “interest remains high.” Given the number of Hogwarts gimmicks in the course design, I’m sure it will! [Read more…]

Harry Potter Inc. Taking a Big Downturn?

In today’s news we find three pointers to the end of Harry Potter’s dominance of the book trade and cultural landscape: a Publisher’s Weekly report on sales of children’s books for fiscal year 2009, Time-Warner’s stock being downgraded in anticipation of the last Potter films from Warner Brothers, and scrape-the-barrel publishing tactics by Bloomsbury to milk the Hogwarts Saga of every dollar. One by one — [Read more…]