New additions to my Harry Potter Christmas Tree

I have never had any interest in braving the crowds for Black Friday shopping. For me, the day after Thanksgiving is the day to hang around the house, maybe catch up on grading, contemplate creative uses for Thanksgiving leftovers and start decorating the house for Christmas. This includes setting up my tabletop tree with all of the Harry Potter ornaments I have accumulated over the years. Hallmark keeps coming out with more each year; eventually I am going to need to get a bigger tree. Here are a few pictures of additions made to my collection since I first posted on this topic.

I have acquired quite a few buildings, most recently Hogwarts itself and Honeydukes Sweets.  Olivander’s and Gringotts have been around longer.  I have started setting all the buildings, except for the castle, which is scaled much smaller,  up around the base of the tree in some fake snow in the style of a Christmas Village.  The Honeydukes is especially festive, with the snow-covered roof. Note to self:  purchase some battery-operated lights to light them up.

Ornaments acquired in the last few years include the first Fantastic Beasts addition, the Niffler in the suitcase, and the first in a series of 3D book covers.  I only wish it said “Philosopher’s Stone” instead of “Sorcerer’s.”  There’s also one of Snape drilling Harry in his first potions class (another that plays dialogue from the movie) and, perhaps my favorite from an artistic perspective, one with Dumbledore and Harry exploring memories in the Pensieve.

Of course, like a lot of Hogpro writers, I am hoping the Cormoran Strike series will become popular enough to merit such merchandising tie-ins.  Can you imagine the holiday scenes?  Lula Lovegood’s body in the snow?  The near-collision on the snowy highway? Strike punching Whitaker in the gut? A yapping Norfolk terrier with a chorus of “Shut up, Rattenbury!”?  The possibilities are endless.

Veronica Roth’s Next Book, “Chosen Ones” to Be Published in April

Longtime readers know me as the resident Divergent junkie.  Like a lot of readers, I was disappointed in Allegiant and, though I read Roth’s science fiction duology: Carve the Mark and The Fates Divide Us, the books didn’t grab my imagination enough to post about them.  Not that I didn’t mean to; it just kept moving farther down my priorities list, especially with so much cool Cormoran Strike stuff to write about.

However, I continue to follow Roth’s work. Today, the publication date for her next novel popped up on my social media.  I must say, I am really intrigued by the preview and I hope this is an indication that Roth is returning to her strengths. 

More after the jump.

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Why More College Students Should Attend Harry Potter Conferences.

Few things make a professor happier than seeing students go on to great things after graduation. I was thrilled recently to see a Facebook post about a student who was just awarded her PhD in archeology. The sight was doubly meaningful because this was the student I took to the first Harry Potter conference I ever attended, almost exactly 8 years ago:  JMU’s Replacing Wands With Quills. I reminded her of that in my congratulatory Facebook note and she fondly remembered the conference as “thrilling event to dip my toes into.” 

This prompted me to look up the handful of other undergraduate students that I had involved in Harry Potter or similar scholarship: students who had attended the Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Academic Conference, guested on Mugglenet Academia, or co-presented a Divergent and Neuroscience poster in the teaching section of the Society for Neuroscience Annual meeting. As expected, I found a number of success stories: two currently in PhD programs in clinical psychology and biochemistry , two completed masters degrees in engineering and industrial/organizational psychology, one currently in an information science masters program, one who had the rare honor of publishing her undergraduate thesis. It appears that these early professional experiences–where students learn not only that they have good ideas but that others want to hear about them–are associated with later success, even when the students ultimately pursue an entirely different area of study from Potter Punditry. 

Of course, correlation does not equal causation; it is likely that the talent and initiative students show in seeking out these experiences are the same traits that lead to academic success later on.  But it also appears that many look back on the Harry Potter academic experience as particularly meaningful in shaping their self-confidence as scholars. 

On that note, it is worth announcing the CFP for the other major showcase for Potter scholarship:  The Southwest Popular/American Culture Association annual meeting in February.  See below.

The deadline for proposals for the 2020 Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) is ONE WEEK from today!

The 2020 SWPACA conference will be held Feb 19-22, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We invite proposals for any topic related to popular and/or American culture studies. See further details:http://southwestpca.org/conference/call-for-papers/

Submit your proposal here: https://register.southwestpca.org/southwestpca by November 20, 2019.

 

Chestnut Hill Conference wrap-up!

The round-up podcast recorded at the Harry Potter Academic Conference is now posted at Reading, Writing, Rowling. Check it out and please comment. We;d love to hear from attendees and non-attendees.

Hunger Games Prequel Title Announced

I’m playing frantic catch-up on my non-Harry Potter life after a wonderful but busy build-up to Queen City Mischief and Magic, highlighted by a visit and multiple talks by our own John Granger. But, I had to make a brief post to announce that the Hunger Games prequel now has a title:  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.  The cover has also been released.

We know the book will feature the Reaping for the 10th annual Games, and speculation is that we will see Mags chosen as District 4 tribute. The “Snake” in the title also suggests that a young Cornelius Snow will play a role.

Collins appears to be sticking with at least some elements that worked well in the first series books and movies, particularly the use of ballad motifs, a la The Hanging Tree and the Meadow Song. And the familiar bird-in-a circle is back, albeit a less mature-looking one, firmly encased in multiple rings and perching on a nest of thorns, in contrast to the gradual break-out of the series. 


Now would be a great time to look back on previous comments and speculate some more, while we wait for May.

Hat-tip to Mike G.