Archives for April 2012

MuggleNet Academia: ‘Getting Serious with Series’ Literature, Conversation with Professor Suzanne Keen about Book Sets, the only other Harry Potter fan site to get the monster ‘hit’ numbers of the Leaky Cauldron, has gone all out in its determination to raise the bar of fandom conversation about the Hogwarts Saga. In a new page they’re calling MuggleNet Academia, they will be featuring interviews with professors, literary critics, even lawyers and translators, to explore, you guessed it, the artistry and meaning of the world’s best selling books. Programs will be podcast and then available as transcribed posts.

I say “they” but “we” is closer to the truth. MuggleNet has invited me to Co-host the Academia podcasts alongside Keith Hawk — and you are welcome to participate as well! Send the pertinent information requested at the programs web page directly to Keith and you can join us as a Guest Host in conversation with the leading lights of the Harry Potter book world.

Please give this month’s Academia installment, the program premiere, a listen — ‘Getting Serious about Series,’ a conversation with Washington & Lee professor (and good friend of this blog) Suzanne Keen about what sort of book(s) the Hogwarts adventures are — and leave your thoughts about the show at MuggleNet or here at HogwartsProfessor. Let the decision makers there know what you like and don’t like — so we can provide more of the former and less of the latter.

What I really want right away, though, are your suggestions about guests you’d like to hear on MuggleNet Academia! Thanks in advance for letting me know your thoughts about the premiere, the concept of the program, and, most pressing, your preferences for future podcast topics and guest experts.

UPDATE: The first program is now available for easy downloading via iTunes

The Cross in Chiasmus and Ring Composition: Some Notes

I’m loving the responses to the ‘What are you reading?’ question below! Thank you all for writing in about your book stacks. The diversity and depth of the lists confirm my suspicion that the HogPro gang are are a group of serious readers, as advertised.

As most of you know, I’m guessing, from older posts, my literary researches recently are focusing on ‘Ring Composition’ which is the fictional shadow of Biblical and Patristic chiasmus. Mary Douglas, the noted anthropologist, wrote a book on this, Thinking in Circles, which, with Lund’s book on chiasmus in the New Testament and Welch’s books on chiasmus in antiquity, has been my introduction and guide on the subject. As we’ve been exploring here for some time, it seems the science fiction fantasy novels of C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams may be ‘rings’ of parallel analogies as are the most recent blockbusters Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games.

Once a reader puts on these glasses and learns to recognize chiasmus, of course, it’s hard not to imagine it everywhere. The seven days after Pascha are known as Bright Week and traditional Christians celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection by chanting the Paschal Hours through that time. One of the prayers sung again and again is ‘The Hymn of the Resurrection’ that is first chanted during the services for Pascha and then throughout Paschaltide. I believe it to be a Ring or chiasmus composition, and, below, I chart it for your review with some notes on the ring nature of Christian soteriology and some brief thoughts, guesses really, about why this is so.

I think it has a great deal to do with why this story scaffolding has the power it does, why, as Douglas argues, it is the universal story form. It is, of course, an explicitly Christian argument and not directly related to discussion of popular fiction, so I urge those not interested in that sort of discussion to not enter into it. We’ll return to our regular programming tomorrow with some thoughts on Suzanne Collins’ ring markers in her Underland Chronicles! [Read more…]

What Are You Reading Now? Please Join The HogPro Survey!

On our drive north to Cedar Rapids for Pascha services last weekend, we listened to the second ‘Underland Chronicle‘ by Suzanne Collins, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, and the clan’s love for Ripred the Rat grew and grew. We didn’t have the third Chronicle, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, or we certainly would have listened to that on the drive home (more in the coming week on Gregor and what the story structures and messages of these books tell us about Hunger Games). We settled on Alan Cumming’s recordings of Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan, a SteamPunk trilogy that my son Timothy loved as much for the book’s illustrations as the bizarre story line.

It was good enough that after eleven hours on the road we drove around Oklahoma City lest we have to unpack the car before the chapter we were listening to ended. Cumming is brilliant — wonderful Scottish, English, and Austrian accents — but the story is just about as engaging as a re-telling of The Guns of August can get. I added the second and third books of this series, Behemoth and Goliath, to the already dangerously high pile of books I’m reading — and thought I’d ask you all what you’re reading today. To encourage you to share your current favorite along with a line about why you’re reading it or how you learned about it and your yay or nay recommendation, here are the titles on my list, below Westerfield’s three wonderful books:

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Hunger Games Fosters Archery Interest Among Women

No joke, it’s not just our friends at Foxtrot that are experiencing this craze. There is a big surge in young archers at clinics, demonstrations, and shooting ranges consequent to the Hunger Games movie splash. Check out Hunger Games Fever Makes Archery Cool for Kids.

NEW YORK – In schools and backyards, for their birthdays and out with their dads, kids are gaga for archery four weeks into the box office run of “The Hunger Games” and less than 100 days before the London Olympics.

“All of a sudden sales of bows have, like, tripled,” said Paul Haines, a salesman at the Ramsey Outdoor store in Paramus, N.J.

A manager there made a sign for the hunting department: “Quality bows for serious archers and girls who saw the movie,” he said.

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Boone, NC, Bookstore Hosts Hunger Games Night

On April 13 (yes, Friday the 13th), Black Bear Books in Boone, NC, put on a wonderful Hunger-Games-themed evening, including a costume contest, trivia, and food from the cookbook based on the triology. In addition, I shared my thoughts on the way in which Collins elegantly wraps up all the major symbolic elements of her story in one very important little gold pin. Follow me after the jump for for more on this super event, presided over by bookstore owner Karen Hall, who makes a lovely Effie, but is far more experienced in the role of Cinna. [Read more…]