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.

 

Alohamora Podcast: Ring Composition 2

This time last year Kat Miller and the Alohamora gang at MuggleNet invited me on their super-powered podcast to speak to their global audience about Ring Composition. That first show — which you can listen to here — went over so well that they invited me back to talk in much greater detail about one pair of books, Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince, and the many correspondences between them. It was a lot of fun, even “geeky glee,” which you’d expect with readers who know the Hogwarts Saga as well as the Alohamora crowd do. Click on the link below in Kat’s announcement of the episode, have a listen, and then let me know what you think!

EPISODE 281: RING COMPOSITION, PART DEUX – THE BOOK INSIDE THE BOOK

Wipe off the floor under where you’re sitting and get ready for another jaw dropping Ring Composition episode. Part Deux is here!

Agatha Christie: Ginny-Ginevra Source?

One of my first mistakes as a Potter Pundit was in the names chapter of Hidden Key to Harry Potter (2002) in which I asserted that Ginny Weasley’s first name was obviously an affectionate diminutive for ‘Virginia.’ The book wasn’t out for more than a few weeks before Rowling explained that Ginny’s given name at birth was ‘Ginevra,’ an archaic form of ‘Guinevere.’ Given the King Arthur elements if the Chamber of Secrets finale, that was a delightful bit of back story I added to the updates to Hidden Key (now How Harry Cast His Spell).

And I thought that was all I would ever need to know about Ginny Weasley’s name. If you check out the ‘Ginny’ pages at The Harry Potter Lexicon, at Wikipedia, at Harry Potter Wiki, and at PotterMore, ‘Ginevra’ is what you get without much further explanation beyond ‘Guinevere.’ Unless you think it being the Italian word for the Swiss City ‘Geneva’ is a big deal.

I was researching some things Rowling has said about her fondness for detective stories and Agatha Christie in particular yesterday, though, and found a real treasure in an unexpected place. First, though, what Rowling said about Agatha Christie in her Val McDermid interview about Cormoran Strike (2014): [Read more…]

Alohomora: Ring Composition, Part One

I have been podcasting at MuggleNet.com since 2011, first with Keith Hawk on a show called ‘MuggleNet Academia’ and now with Katy McDaniel on ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling.’ I do it because it is a lot of fun — the conversations with guests and the show host are almost always challenging and a delight — and because a lot more people listen to those podcasts than will ever read what I write here at HogwartsProfessor. MuggleNet is truly a global platform and it is a privilege to get to speak from it about Harry Potter, Cormoran Strike, and literature in general in this age which has largely been shaped imaginatively by the work of J. K. Rowling.

There are, of course, other podcasts on MuggleNet and much more popular and less ‘heady’ ones than those in which I participate. One of the most successful is ‘Alohomora.’ The team of podcasters there have recorded more than 250 episodes devoted to a chapter-by-chapter re-reading of the Hogwarts Saga; their following is sufficiently broad that they have advertisers, a paid producer, and a real presence at the website and Fandom.

Though I know all the principals on the show and have for some time, I had never been invited to join the crew for a talk about a specific chapter or topic. Until this month! Kat Miller and Company wanted to do a show on Ring Composition and I was the default subject matter expert. You can read about and listen to the show here: Ring Composition, Part One: It’s a WOW Thing

To anticipate your question, no, I don’t know if there will be a ‘Part Two’ to follow-up on this ‘Part One.’ That they do not mention anywhere in their write-up of the podcast that I was a guest speaker suggests that, if they do, I won’t be invited to participate!

Part One was a fun and firehose conversation, though, as none of the others knew the first thing about chiasmus or ring writing and its importance to Potter studies. Your boy Gilderoy obliged them with an hour long review and introduction to the subject.

Which maybe put them off? Maybe! The good news is that, if you haven’t got the time to read Harry Potter as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle, and want to learn a little more about story structure and Harry’s magic, this podcast will serve as an appetizer for the subject. Let me know what you think, even if you’ve read the book, of the podcast in the comment boxes below.

Is it possible I’ll ever be invited to ‘Speak Beasties,’ the MuggleNet Fantastic Beasts podcast franchise? 

 

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!