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…]

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…]

DH:II Countdown continues!

We are happy to hear that folks are enjoying revisiting some of the older Deathly Hallows posts as we prepare for the release of part two of the final film! Since many folks have only just joined us in the last couple of years, some of these fossils are brand new for you!  We hope that you’ll explore some of the other treasures in the archives, not just ones setting up the final Harry film. We have some great treasures lurking in the past. Here’s a  fantastic little gem from three years ago, in which our beloved headmaster, who is certainly not in contention for head of the Hogwarts Faculty Film Fanciers Society, makes some lovely points about the relationship between films and the books on which they are based, with some very fine points for us to ponder while we wait in virtual line on Fandango. Enjoy!

DH:II Film Countdown 2

So, as promised, we are dusting off some of our “greatest hits” of Deathly Hallows Posts, in case you missed them the first time out, or in case a nasty Memory charm backfired and obliterated your recollection of them. Here  is a great “bonus” post–thirty of the threads from the novel’s intial release in 2007. Remember those days? I was still drinking cocoa and trying to recover. Enjoy this great visit down memory lane, with posts on subjects from symbolism to fairy tales to  reader reaction back when the last book was big news! As we get ready to revisit the last half of the story via the cinema, we can revist some of these great ideas, too! Enjoy! And don’t forget to send in those requests!

Mailbag: Revisiting the Albus-Severus Suicide Pact

A young reader wrote to me several weeks ago to thank me for my books and ask a question. He closed by saying he aspired to someday making his living by just reading, writing, and talking about Harry Potter, what he imagined was a “dream life.”

I couldn’t really encourage him in this aspiration — the Potter Pundit category is rapidly becoming a crowded space! — but he is right to say that my job, if you can call the time I spend as one of the Hogwarts Professors here a job, is delightful. Almost all of my interactions with serious readers in person, online, and by correspondence is edifying, enlightening, even challenging. I respond to all my mail, to my wife’s distress as I fall further behind on deadlines, even when it is only challenging.

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