Fairies and Wizards? A Midsummer Night’s Dream and What We Might Expect from The Crimes of Grindelwald

In my Muggle professor job, I love teaching some of the greats of literature. One of my favorites, for my own enjoyment and for sharing with my class, is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespearemodel comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition to literary depth, symbolism, themes, and plenty of laughs, the Bard’s romp through the fairy-haunted forest also offers my students some great connections with other texts, including popular ones they enjoy, like J.K. Rowling’s stories of the Wizarding World. With the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series galloping into theaters this November, it’s a good time to check out some of the connections this story already shares with MND and to make some guesses about what we might see in The Crimes of Grindelwald that will echo the adventures of some really bad actors, two pairs of hapless lovers, and a few aristocrats, when the mortal world intersects with some quarrelling fey and their minions. Follow me after the jump for some thoughts and possible predictions! [Read more…]

Danger, Herman Melville! Much-Needed Literary Notes in the Lost in Space Re-boot

I’m always a little leery of re-boots of classics, particularly classic science fiction shows. I loved the cheesy old Image result for lost in space 2018Battlestar Galactica and was let down by the darker, modern interpretation, just for one example. However, I decided to give Netflix’s new take on Lost in Space a try, mainly because it looked good, and because I never cared much for the original, so I knew that it wouldn’t damage my youthful expectations. And, to be totally honest, I was just delighted by the fact that if the show becomes popular, most of my students may not look at me in bewilderment when I try to warn them off Wikipedia or Cliffnotes as sources for their essays by waving my arms and yelling, “Danger, Will Robinson!” So, I gave it a whirl. After just one episode, I am already intrigued, not just because the effects are awesome and the kids are charismatic (though really, kids, if your name is Will, and you are on a Netflix show, there is a really good chance that you will get lost someplace scary and that large chunks of the script will consist of family members yelling your name…). What excites me are the fantastic literary hints that tie this new series into some of the old texts that we love and discuss here. So fasten your safety belt, and join me after the jump to get lost in some literature! [Read more…]

Fan-Made Voldemort, Origins of the Heir, a Dazzling Surprise

Image may contain: 1 person, textIt’s no secret that I generally have little patience with fanfiction in its various forms. Though I know that some fanfiction is not bad, and some is even pretty good, I am generally turned off by the fact that so much of it is bad for so many reasons: poor artistic and grammar skills, juvenile wish-fulfillment that is not appropriate for a public readership, failure to understand or respect the author’s original vision, and an appalling amount of outright pornography and other filth.  Thus, it always a delight when I see “fan-made” work that impresses both with its technical accomplishments and faithfulness to the work from which it springs. This week, an Italian filmmaking team, Tryangle, released their film Voldemort: Origins of the Heir on youtube. It’s really quite an accomplishment, as demonstrated by the fact that it garnered 4 million views in its first 24 hours online. I do have a few quibbles, of course, but also some kudos, and a few questions (Yes, alliteration is fun. No, there just are not enough words in English that begin with “q”). [Read more…]

Riddikulus! Humor as a Weapon against Fear and Evil

I have a guilty confession: I really like watching old re-runs of Hogan’s Heroes. Yes, Hogan’s Heroes, with the hokey tunnels and wacky disguises. Probably one reason I enjoy it is because my kids think it’s hilarious; we don’t have Image result for comedy maskcable, and it comes on every night on one of the stations we get with the antenna. It also reminds me of my childhood and the silly stuff we loved then, like Gilligan’s Island and Batman. However, after doing a little research, I began to realize that there was something more at work here, something far more complex than tunnels in tree trunks and microphones hidden under portraits of Hitler. Just as we see in the rich and complex texts we discuss here, even campy Hogan has something intriguing to say about fear and the power of laughter. [Read more…]

After-Action Report on the Amazing Roanoke Harry Potter Festival!

In case you did not see all the stars shooting up over the Star City of Roanoke recently, May 12 and 13 marked a very special event. The town’s first ever-Harry Potter festival was fantastic and included a rare gathering of the four Image may contain: textHogwarts Professor Faculty Members in one place! John Granger, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Louise Freeman, and Emily Strand don’t usually get to be at the same event in real life, as most of our faculty meetings are virtual ones, so it was a great experience for us to chat, record a live podcast for the new Reading, Writing, Rowling podcast (stay tuned for more on that!), and take part in a festival that was both academically rich and fun for everyone. We’ll each be sharing our thoughts on this wonderful event, which we joined primarily through the tireless efforts of Dr. Lana Whited, friend of this blog, professor at Ferrum College, and Minister of Magical Education for the Festival. Dr. Whited put together a stellar program, and we were all delighted to be part of it, though we were in different areas, which means we have some different insights on this enchanting festival that we all hope will invite us back in 2018! [Read more…]