Chestnut Hill 2017: Emily’s Conference and Festival Report

Peri Fisher giving her talk on the power of YA lit to effect social reform.

Catching the heels of Louise’s excellent round-up of the sessions she attended at 2017’s Chestnut Hill College Harry Potter Conference, I submit my own report, dear Hogwarts Professor readers. In addition to the conference, my intrepid friend Katherine Sas and I also attended the Harry Potter Festival in the village of Chestnut Hill, just down the street from the College, the day after the conference, as we have done the past few years. The fest was particularly good this year, for both magical and non-magical reasons. I’ll spell them out here, with photographic evidence of the mischief that was so delightfully managed by Chestnut Hill, PA in 2017. [Read more…]

Pottery Barn Potter: Why we love and lament it

This week, retail furniture giant Pottery Barn revealed its new Harry Potter décor collection for teens (okay, let’s all snigger about that as we get out our grown-up wallets). The collection features authentically fashioned, drool-inducing items such as a Golden Snitch clock (because “time flies”), flying keys to hold your jewelry (if you trust them to stay put), an absolutely gorgeous Mirror of Erised (no word on whether it will show you holding the $400 you’ll need to purchase same) and more. Now you can go into your local Pottery Barn and purchase pillows, sheets, throws and backpacks to show your Hogwarts House pride, or even a lap desk with hidden storage (which I guess makes it worth $100?) in the stripes of your clan. Mixed in with the replica items are Hogwarts-inspired décor such as midnight blue velvet drapes, glittery gold bed skirts, vintage-chic rugs and armchairs “squashy” enough for the Gryffindor common room. Here’s a link to the collection. Clicking on it will result in either a fannish frenzy of superfluous spending or – if your financial situation is more like mine – a persistent and painful longing for stuff you can’t afford. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. [Read more…]

Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter! Announcing a new podcast!

Dear Hogwarts Professor readers:

Happy Anniversary! It’s been 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And it seems it’s been almost that long since the last gripping, academic discussion of Harry Potter by your favorite Potter pundits on the podcast Mugglenet Academia (RIP). But never fear! A new forum for over-educated Potter nerdiness is on its way! The new podcast, Reading, Writing, Rowling, hopes to match and even one day surpass Academia in both erudition and geekiness. How could it not, with Katy McDaniel and John Granger at the helm? We hope you enjoy this teaser trailer for the new production.

Mischief definitely NOT managed!

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).