Archives for April 2013

Mailbag: “Alchemical Backfire” in Sookie Vampire Finale!

News from the Sookie Stackhouse fandom — the ending isn’t what the ghoul gallery expected or wanted, if it is faithful to alchemical story formula. Here is the HogwartsProfessor authority on the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Renee Jones, with the just breaking news:

Hi, John,

I wanted to let you know about the nuclear explosion going through the Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood fandom today.

In 2009 when I first contacted you about Charlaine Harris‘s series, I speculated that the protagonist, Sookie, was progressing through the alchemical stages, which were demarcated by her relationships with two vampires and a shape shifter. An enormous fandom revolves around the nigredo vampire, Bill and the albedo one, Eric. While rubedo shapeshifter Sam has a small following, no one has considered him a credible contender for Sookie’s happily ever after since book 3.

Bill’s window of opportunity ended early on, and debate in recent years has been about whether Sookie and Eric would have a happily ever after, she would wind up alone, or find someone new.

Today portions of the 14th and last book in the series were leaked on the internet, and the fandom has been blindsided with the rubedo ending of Sookie and Sam. The gnashing and wailing of teeth is really something. This is a huge alchemical backfire.

Game Theory: A New Key to Young Adult Fiction?

There’s a new book out that I would love to read and discuss with HogPro regulars: Jane Austen, Game Theorist.  Game theory and neuroeconomics are a relatively new interest for me in my field, psychology ( though hormones and neuroscience will always be my first love), but that interest has grown thanks to an Honors Course (Phil/Psych 306) I have been privileged  to teach a few times with a colleague in the Philosophy Department.  We recently completed a class research project using the Ultimatum Game.

According to the reviews, Dr. Chwe seems more interested in the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which makes since.  The Prisoner’s Dilemma has been getting a lot of popular press of late, even serving as the basis for a popular game show (I’ve only seen it once, and, yes, both contestants defected and went home with nothing).  But with themes like trust, loyalty, betrayal and survival bearing at the heart of so many of our favorite series here at Hogpro, it is likely game theory could give us some fresh insights.

Other writers have already applied the Prisoner’s Dilemma to the Hunger Games.  Brent Keller points out that a district who trusted each other could request unlimited tesserae without increasing the probablity of any individual child dying the the Games…  as long as everyone requested the same number. The economics blog Centives explains Tribute alliances in terms of the Prisoners Dilemma, as does Samuel Arbesman of Wired Magazine.

Ally Condi’s Matched series refers to the Prisoner’s Dilemma as one of the limited game choices the youth can play during their free time, although, in the Society’s version, it purely a game of chance that will, statistically, result in equal numbers of wins and losses for both players.  Only Ky, the Aberration, knows that the original game involved a human decision-making process and that a favorable outcome depended on two partners absolutely trusting each other.

As a fairly recent Psychology student, Veronica Roth likely encountered game theory.  Did it, like personality theory and biopsychology, make it into her books?  That is something I will consider after I have read Dr. Chwe’s book, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

But, it is likely in my own economic best interest to get my semester grades turned in first.

Question: Are Online Potter Fandom Friendships Valuable?

A letter from independent scholar Joel Hunter, formerly of Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College — with a request for help from all Potter Pundits! I cannot think of a group more qualified to answer this than we are, so please share your answers to the survey question here as well as sending a note to the student.

Hello, Friends,

I have a request from an ASU student who is trying to complete her final project for a class, but she is hitting a roadblock with getting feedback from a Tumblr post she broadcast requesting feedback from HP fans. So I agreed to reach out to you all to see whether she could expand her network (it appears that she doesn’t have enough Tumblr followers who are also HP fans). What she’d like to get fans’ responses about she expressed as follows:

“I hope to know whether or not I am correct in thinking an online community for Harry Potter fans is a positive experience that can lead to valuable friendships, even if those friendships are only through the internet.”

I’m not sure how she’s conceptualizing “valuable friendship,” but for this she may be drawing from some of our readings.

Respondents should send their answer to

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Every best wish,

Call For Papers: “Of Fairy-stories, Fantasy and Myth” Gonzaga/Whitworth Seminar on Faith, Film and Philosophy

I thought this event might be of interest to HogPro regulars:

Call for Papers: Faith, Film and Philosophy– “Of Fairy-stories, Fantasy and Myth”

October 11th & 12th, 2013

Gonzaga University’s Faith and Reason Institute and Whitworth University’s Weyerhaeuser Center for Faith and Learning are pleased to announce their Seventh Annual Seminar on Faith, Film and Philosophy, entitled “Of Fairy-stories, Fantasy and Myth.”

The past decade has seen film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, as well as three of C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia,” and, most recently, Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Although the immediate inspiration for our seminar is the release of the first part of Peter Jackson’s cinematic treatment of The Hobbit, our interest is neither solely nor primarily in Jackson’s films. Instead, we wish to explore a variety of cinematic treatments of myth, fairy-story, and fantasy, and to explore philosophical and religious questions raised by such films.

The Star Wars saga, the various incarnations of the world of Star Trek, the imaginative world of Pan’s Labyrinth, the Narnia films, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Wrath of the Titans, How to Train Your Dragon, Arrietty, Ponyo, Hugo, Shrek, Knowing, The Road, After Earth…. These are but some of the films that fall within the purview of our seminar. Even apart from the content of these films, the genres touched upon in our title raise very general questions about art, reality, meaning, and truth.

For example, is film an appropriate art form for mythopoesis? What is the nature of the reality portrayed in these films? What truth, if any, can films of this sort explore or convey?

Possible topics for seminar papers include the following, although proposals on other topics or questions of relevance are certainly welcome and encouraged.

• What constitutes a literary fantasy?
• What motivates literary fantasies? Is there a psychological payoff? If so, what is it?
• What is the underlying neurological basis for fantasy? Why do we fantasize in the first place and what evolutionary value might this have?
• Gender identity in fantasy and science fiction.
• Social functions of fantasy literature, including political functions.
• Cinematic treatments of sexual fantasies.
• Revenge fantasies.
• Heroic figures and our fantasies of being like them. (What do Iron Man and I have in common?)
• Fantasies of the end of the world, their characteristics and functions.
• Fantasies and reality: since most fantasies are never realized in actuality, why do we keep having them?
• What’s the difference between a fantasy, whether literary and filmic and outright hallucination or delusion?
• Criticisms of the work of Peter Jackson.
• Epistemological issues: what can be known by means of a fantasy that might not be known otherwise?

• The Life of Pi as fantasy.

• Fantasy and possible worlds.

We are particularly interested in popular films from the last 20 years, although the program committee will certainly consider exceptions to the 20-year rule.

Seminar sessions will take place on Friday (October 11th) and Saturday (October 12th). Public lectures and other events associated with the seminar will take place in the days leading up to the seminar. One of the public lectures will be on the evening of October 11th, when one of our invited speakers will give a keynote address. The invited speakers include Michael Foley (Baylor University), Richard McClelland (Gonzaga University), and Katherin Rogers (University of Delaware). These invited speakers will also participate as resident “experts” during the seminar discussions.

Proposals not longer than two pages (double-spaced), and in Word format, should be submitted electronically to Dr. Brian Clayton at no later than 30 June 2013, and should include title, author(s), institutional affiliation (if any), mailing address, email address, and the text of the proposal. The seminar organizers will send acceptances by 8 July 2013.

The seminar and its associated public events are part of a series of jointly-sponsored programs focused on “Faith, Reason and Popular Culture.” The conviction behind these programs is that if Christian institutions of higher learning are to respond properly to their charge to be places where faith seeks understanding, then they must engage contemporary popular culture. Film is among the most powerful and important forms of popular culture. Thus, the seminar organizers seek scholars who will engage in two days of discussion investigating issues of faith and philosophical import raised by contemporary popular film. Presenters need not have any formal academic appointment.

For further information please contact Dr. Brian Clayton, Director, Gonzaga University Faith and Reason Institute at

Guest Post: The Sidekick’s Journey — Neville Longbottom

The hot spots nation wide for serious study of Harry Potter, in my experience talking on campuses the last ten years, are places where a Professor is a Potter Pundit — think Pepperdine with James Thomas, Lawrence University with Edmund Kern — or where a class offered on the Hogwarts Saga has achieved something like cult status. Richard Priggie’s ‘The Soul of Harry Potter‘ course on Deathly Hallows at Augustana College is one of these and it has been my great pleasure to speak with this group (and other students at Augustana) more than once, always learning more from our exchanges than they could from me. Today I want to share an essay from one of these students, Mara Cantrell-Paulson, about Neville as Sidekick as a guest post. Let me know what you think! [Read more…]