Archives for May 2017

Why the Harry Potter Books are Better

 

“Professor Strand, which is your favorite Harry Potter movie?” a student asked recently as class began.

“I’m sorry,” I replied, “did you ask, ‘which is my favorite Harry Potter BOOK?’”

“Oh, yeah, right. Which book,” she said, unfazed. A few students murmured their understanding of her error, but most simply waited to see how much class time the question would chew up (a favorite pastime of my students: baiting instructor into digressive pop culture conversation).

I wasn’t altogether surprised by her phrasing, as I had encountered the same movies-as-primary attitude in a college-aged Potter fan just a few weeks before, as I attended a collegiate Muggle Quidditch tournament. Seeking an understanding of the viability of Quidditch on its own terms, I had asked one of the players if everyone on her Quidditch team was a Harry Potter fan, or if some players simply played for love of the sport. She informed me most were indeed big Potter fans, but there were one or two players who, she said, despairing of their poor taste, “haven’t seen any of the movies!” (Their attention to the books: not mentioned.) [Read more…]

Harry Potter and the Sacramental Principle

As promised, here is the video of my talk for the Ohio State University’s Popular Culture and the Deep Past 2017: The World of Harry Potter (full conference report here). In the talk, I explain what I mean by “Christian sacramental principle” and argue that a particularly medieval expression of this same principle creates and supports the magical contours of Harry Potter’s world.

Please share your own thoughts on my thesis in the comments below, or dialogue with me on Facebook and Twitter (@ekcstrand).

Roanoke Harry Potter Festival a Smash!

This weekend, the City of Roanoke, Virginia, known for the star that shines from the mountaintop overlooking the city, will sparkle with extra magic!  The Roanoke Harry Potter Festival will feature wonderful programs, events, and opportunities, including the rare chance to see John Granger, Louise Freeman, Emily Strand, and Elizabeth Baird Hardy all in the same place at the same time. The only more difficult feat is seeing Clark Kent and Superman at once!

UPDATE: Read about the 8,500 fan gathering in The Roanoke Times!

[Read more…]

Popular Culture and the Deep Past 2017: The World of Harry Potter (A conference report)

PCDP-HP flyer jpegOn February 24-25, I was privileged to participate in The Ohio State University’s Popular Culture and the Deep Past 2017 conference, hosted by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. This year’s focus was “The World of Harry Potter,” and though it was a local conference for me, it brought together a far-flung set of Potter scholars, as well as thoughtful fans (some in period attire!) with engaging questions and contributions to the conference.

The conference’s call for papers asked for submissions that would IMG_1631“explore historical and cultural strands that tie the Potter world to its medieval and early-modern antecedents,” while “exploring the interface between the past and the present.” This resulted in a conference which investigated fruitfully what is “medieval” about Harry Potter (short answer: a lot) and how our favorite books appropriate and reinterpret medieval elements, themes, motifs and history to spin their epic tale. After the jump, I’ll provide a brief sampling of the most delectable dishes from this Potter thought-feast. (A list of all the talks with links to longer descriptions of each can be found here.) [Read more…]

Rowling Apologizes for Killing Snape

Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts (which is incidentally, also the same day that Civil War General Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville), J.K. Rowling, as has been her habit for the past few years, issued an apology for killing off a character. In the past, sharry-snapehe has apologized for the deaths of Fred Weasley and Remus Lupin, meeting great approval from those of us who still mourn those characters (Really. It’s almost time to start the read-aloud of Deathly Hallows with the younger child, and so I am already stocking up on tissues and hot cocoa). However, this year, she apologized not for killing a funny and beloved twin or a kindly and troubled teacher. She apologized for killing Severus Snape. A number of people seem to be very upset by this, as Rowling expected, by saying she was running for cover after making the comment. However, is it really so shocking? It all comes down to how we interpret “apologizing” in this context. Let’s look at a few interpretations at how they intersect with our responses as readers to the character of Snape. [Read more…]