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!

Two Pieces of ‘Carve the Mark’ News

Carve the MarkThe first and most exciting for me personally is… drum roll please…. my copy arrived today! I’ll probably start reading tomorrow.

The second bit of interesting news came from this interview Ms Roth did with NPR.  Two tidbits I found of particular note: 1) Cyra did not start out as a major character in the book and 2) the character and her “currentgift” were inspired by some acquaintances of Ms Roth who are chronic pain patients. Chronic pain is a problem often addressed by psychologists along with physicians, so I am hopeful we will see some more of Ms. Roth’s fascination with psychology shine through in the series. In the NPR interview, she states that a person’s “personality is like a mold that shapes how it comes out”–  “it” being the gift-giving “current” that seems to the the “force” of Ms. Roth’s new world.  Could there be more personality psychology showing up in the new series?  We’ll know soon enough.  I hope there are plenty of Hogpro regulars reading along.

You can also view this CBS clip to hear Ms. Roth talk about reading Harry Potter in the shower.

A look at the Carve the Mark sneak peaks: prose, photos and artwork

preprderVeronica Roth engages with her readers through a variety of social media outlets, notably Twitter, Instagram and Tumblir. With a scant two weeks remaining until the release of her new book, Carve the Mark, she is clearly doing what she can to generate and maintain interest, including offering an bonus epilogue to the Divergent series for those who pre-order. And yes, that particular bit of marketing strategy worked very nicely on me–not that I wouldn’t have ordered the book anyway.

In addition to releasing a preview chapter, Ms. Roth has been sharing regular “teasers:” sentences from Carve the Mark she has been releasing weekly, along with a photograph or painting, at least some of which her mother assisted in preparing. I thought it would be fun to look through the ten teasers released so far, speculate about what they could mean for the new series and look for any possible echoes to the Divergent trilogy.  So, here are the ten teaser quotes, in the order they were released, and including the art.

ctm-opening1. The first was the opening line of Carve the Mark.

Hushflowers always bloomed when the night was longest. The whole city celebrated the day the bundle of petals peeled apart into rich red– partly because hushflowers were their nation’s lifeblood and partly, Akos thought, to keep them all from going crazy in the cold.

As other previews have mentioned, plants apparently play a big role in this book. The red flower pictured above–presumably the hushflower–bears a strong resemblance to the red flowers featured in the book trailer.  A second plant, the “iceflower” is also mentioned as providing “lifeblood”–and given the opening trailer images of snowscapes interspersed with the fiery red flowers, and the red, black and white theme of the accompanying artwork, it is a possibility we could be looking at an alchemical organization, as Christine Wesley brilliantly deduced for Divergent. That would certainly be a nice Yuletide gift for John.

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Not all Fantastic Beasts are Fictional

hpspiderIt seems appropriate that this paper should be released at this season of renewed interest in JK Rowling’s magical creatures. A pair of Potter-loving scientists from India recently discovered a new species of spider, and, upon noticing its resemblance to the Sorting Hat, named it Eriovixia gryffindori. Even better, they provided a explanation of the name in the scientific paper that described the beastie.

harry_potter_sorting_hat_by_boywizard94-d5ma8izThis uniquely shaped spider derives its name from the fabulous, sentient magical artifact, the sorting hat, owned by the (fictitious) medieval wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and stemming from the powerful imagination of Ms. J.K. Rowling, wordsmith extraordinaire, as presented in her beloved series of books, featuring everyone’s favorite boy-wizard, Harry Potter. An ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives.

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Fantastic Beasts Question: Is an Obscurus the Opposite of a Patronus?

obscurial-fantastic-beasts-3The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie introduced wizarding fans to the Obscurus (and its host, the Obscurial). The Obscurus is described as a “dark, parasitic” force that develops in children forced to repress their magic. While Potter fans had not seen this entity before, they had seen something that seems to be the polar opposite of the Obscurus: the light, protective force known as the Patronus. Many viewers have questions about Obscurus manifestation: most notably: was Ariana Dumbledore an Obscurial?  And why did Harry not become one, during those years the Dursleys tried to “squash all that nonsense out of him?” I’m going to look more closely at the Patronus-Obscurus parallels to see if we can discern any answers.

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-deleted-scene-description-answers-what-really-happened-to-credenceYoung witches and wizards develop an Obscurus when they are forced to suppress their magic.  Newt tells us that Obscurials  were more common when magic people were persecuted by Muggles, suggesting fear, isolation and abuse contribute to their formation.  Young Credence Barebones would seem to be a good example of this. In fact, his Obscurus seems to be most powerful and least controllable when he is most alone and frightened; he transforms into the Obscurus when Grindelgraves rejects him as a Squib, and returns to human form when Newt and Tina try connect with and calm him.

patronus_pm_silverstagpatronus_momentillustA Patronus, in contrast, is conjured with happy memories, and particularly depends on positive social connections.  Harry sometimes uses thoughts of escaping the abuse of the Durseleys and Umbridge to summon his Patronus; more often, he thinks of his friendship with Ron and Hermione. Patronuses often take the appearance of an animal of significance to a loved one (Tonk’s wolf, Snape’s doe). George loses his ability to cast his patronus after Fred’s death. [Read more…]