Choice, Free Will, and The Prophecy

PDF Transcript of Choice, Free Will, and the Trelawney Prophecy

Link to Potter Pundits Online Survey: “What One Question Would You Ask Me?”

Exciting times! Next week is the launch of a fifteen years effort, online classes for serious readers of Harry Potter, classes that are affordable, interactive, accessible, and even alchemical, and I am over the top delighted that it is finally happening.

Today’s video entry is about another meme in the way we think of Harry Potter — that the Hogwarts Saga is a celebration of choice as the gauge of character and token of our free will to shape our lives and events — and how that is certainly true but still deceptive without some serious qualifications. Please let me know what you think in the comment boxes below!

AND! Because we’re just about to start filming the Potter Pundit Summer School free classes and live Q&A webinar midstream that will launch next Sunday (they’ll be available by subscription only for two weeks at; I’ll explain how that works in the next few days), I want to be sure I’m talking about what you want to discuss, I have put together a 20 multiple choice question survey. I sufficiently eager and grateful for your prompt feedback that I’m offering a $100 Amazon gift card I’ll be giving away in a drawing from the names of those who fill it out (it takes less than five minutes).

Click the link above or right here to take the survey and to let me know what you want to hear in the free online classes that will be available starting next Sunday. Affordable, interactive, accessible, even alchemical Hogwarts Magic! At last! Thank you again for your help in making sure these first classes answer the questions you have.

Is Harry Potter a Schoolboy Novel?

PDF Transcript of Is Harry Potter a Schoolboy Novel? A Parody?

This talk, first posted at, is the fourth in a series about the unexamined ideas about Harry Potter that shape and, as often as not, restrict our thinking about the series.

Today we discuss the idea that Harry Potter’s adventures are best understood as Schoolboy fiction, say, something like Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown Schooldays or Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers, or a combination of this genre and one other, maybe ‘fairy tales’ or ‘High Fantasy.’

They are, of course, all that — but not just that. Have a look-and-listen or read the transcript above — and then let me know what you think in the comment boxes below!

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about Fate and Free Will in Harry Potter and whether ‘Choice’ is the be all and end all many think it is. And I’ll be sharing news and dates for the Potter Pundit Summer Camp, four free classes in which I answer your questions about the world’s best selling novels. Talk with you then!

Is Harry Potter One Story or Seven?

Potter Pundits Summer School, four free online classes with yours truly and a live webinar for Q&A, will be rowling out in a little over a week. To get you ready for that, I’ll be posting my videos here at HogwartsProfessor this week. Look for a survey about what you want to be sure I cover in those classes in your inboxes later this week!

We started a conversation last week about unexamined and prevalent Harry Potter ideas that shape our understanding of The Boy Who Lived’s seven adventures while also obscuring other ways of seeing them. That first post in the series revealed the obvious advantages and the not-so-obvious disadvantages of looking at the series as Children’s Literature (‘Kid Lit’). Check it out here if you are joining us mid-stream and missed that.

Today let’s talk about the idea of Harry Potter as seven distinct, stand-alone novels. We know there’s an over-arching story that connects them, especially after the return of the Dark Lord in Goblet of Fire, but is it really, as Rowling has said, just one story in seven parts? What does the predominant idea of the books as a seven part series obscure in the artistry and meaning of the work?

Quite a bit actually! Let me know what you think by shooting me an email at John at HogwartsProfessor dot com or just writing a comment in the boxes below.

Click Here for transcripts of ‘Is Harry Potter’ One Story or Seven Different adventures?

Click here for pdf ‘Top Twelve Rowling Story Sources Every Potter Pundit Needs to Read (and Re-Read)’

Amy Sturgis Edits ‘Apex’ Special Issue

Premiere Potter Pundit and Friend of this Blog Dr. Amy H. Sturgis has edited a special issue of Apex, “a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field.”

Prof Sturgis, as many of you know, is a published authority on Rowling, Tolkien, and Lovecraft, on American history, on dystopian and science fiction, all things Star Wars, fandoms and cross-media adaptationsand Native American subjects. Which is to say, the closest thing to a Renaissance scholar I know.

She was a frequent guest on MuggleNet Academia because her areas of expertise were relevant in every other episode we recorded (not to mention that she is brilliant, funny, and super savvy about what works on podcasts). The MNet show, ‘Harry Potter and the Indian in the Cupboard,’ which featured her insights about Rowling’s gaffes in her PotterMore ‘History of Ilvermorny’ was the most down-loaded show in that popular program’s history.

I learned today about and spent the morning reading the special issue of Apex mentioned above (and listening to Dr Sturgis read a short story by Allison Mills as well), an issue devoted to Indigenous American fantasists. Why is that worth your time? From the introduction:

Native voices are not safe. They may be beautiful and thought-provoking and wise; they are also inherently disruptive, because by existing they are inconvenient, even threatening, to the comfortable stories told in and by the mainstream.

I see the rise of Indigenous futurism today as a natural development, because the First Nations have always looked forward; that is why they have survived all attempts to erase them. For that matter, genre fiction has always stood at the periphery, observing and critiquing the majority and the mundane. The marriage is a natural one.

I finished reading Killers of the Flower Moon last night, the history of the reign of terror that the Osage Nation in Oklahoma suffered from 1918 to at least 1931. No doubt reading about a nightmare in the early years of my adopted home’s statehood colored my thinking about and my agreement with Dr Sturgis’ thesis about Native voices and their “natural marriage” with fantasy fiction. I recommend the issue to you with the hope, almost an expectation, that you will enjoy the challenge and depth of it as I have.

Get your copy here.

PA PotterFest in Voldemort’s Hometown?

I received a note this morning from the lead person of the Edinboro Harry Potter Festival with some details about my travel and lodging (I’m speaking and hope to see you in the great northwest of Penn’s Woods this September!). He said in an aside that he was heading to Volant, Pennsylvania, about an hour down the road, for their ten hour ‘Potter Fest’ today. [Here is the Volant Fest Facebook page and a newspaper article telling all about it.]

Could there be a better town for a Potter Fest than one named ‘Volant’? There is a Potter County in Pennsylvania, “God’s Country,” but no Potter municipality or ‘Dark Lord Ville.’ Volant is the greatest by default. Curiously, the article and the Facebook pages don’t spell out the connection. ‘Volant’ is a name that plays an important part in the Hogwarts Saga.

Jo Rowling’s mother’s maiden name was ‘Anne Volant.’ Beatrice Groves, in her Literary Allusion in Harry Potter (p 138), quotes Rowling as having said that, because of the blow her mother’s death was to her, “she [Rowling] took the inspiration for Voldemort’s name from her mother’s maiden name because Volant (‘flying’) was the first French word she knew,” i.e., mort de Volant.

There is more to this choice than that — but there is that! I suspect someone in town gets the Dark Lord connection because the Fest is named “The Festival That Shall Not Be Named.” As it is planned in conjunction with a bar crawl down the small town’s Main Street provocatively called “Fantastic Drinks and Where to Find Them,” perhaps after a few Potter Potions the truth about Volant’s relationship with Lord Thingy will be spoken aloud…

Wish I could be there! Happy Harry Potter Birthday weekend, everyone, especially those celebrating at the Fests in Volant and Aurora, and the Literary Conference in London!