MuggleNet Academia: American Eugenics, German Genocide, and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

fb60Ezra Miller, the actor who plays Credence Barebones in Fantastic Beasts, and David Yates have both said in interviews that Rowling’s New Salem Philanthropic Society is largely an allegorical depiction of the Progressive Era eugenics movement in the United States. This chapter of American history — how social engineering know-betters on the political left and right campaigned successfully for sterilization and extermination laws to rid the American gene pool of ‘moron women, sexual deviants, and racial inferiors’ in 31 states — has largely been scrubbed from the history textbooks. It’s more than a little embarrassing for us to learn, after all, that Adolf Hitler modeled his Final Solution, the Holocaust of European Jewry, on tracts, scientific publications, and laws written by Americans with the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation (among others). Not only can it happen here, it started here.

gavaler-originTo discuss American eugenics and how Rowling chooses to give that history lesson as an embedded story within her screenplay, not to mention how some of her historical connections are bizarre and off-base, Keith Hawk and I asked Washington & Lee professor Christopher Gavaler to join us on MuggleNet Academia. Gavaler is the author of On the Origin of Superheroes which largely turns on the subject of eugenics as it was told in the Superman/Ubermensch dramas of the late 19th and early 20th Century UK and US and then in the first superhero comic books. He explained to us how Rowling’s Hogwarts Saga’s Pureblood/Mudblood purity theme is straight up anti-eugenics story-telling — and that in Fantastic Beasts she is picking up where she left off.

Another mind-blowing conversation on MuggleNet Academia! Here is a link to Professor Gavaler’s article ‘The Well Born’ Superhero’ that we discuss on the show. Enjoy that challenging read before or after you listen to our conversation — and please share your thoughts about the podcast in the comments boxes below!

Link to MNet Academia podcast on Fantastic Beasts and Eugenics with Chris Gavaler!

MNet Academia: Hogwarts Profs Talk Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Keith Hawk of MuggleNet Academia invited the faculty, all of us, to talk about Fantastic Beasts, the film and the screenplay. A lot of laughs, insights, and questions on top of speculation and good grief guesswork — join us for some great conversation!

Link to MNet Academia podcast on Fantastic Beasts featuring Louise Freeman, Emily Strand, and Elizabeth Baird-Hardy!

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: A Round Up of HogwartsProfessor Posts

fb21Your HogwartsProfessor faculty has been writing up a storm in the weeks since the release of the first Fantastic Beasts film and the publication of J. K. Rowling’s ‘Original Screenplay.’ We’ve had such a flurry — blizzard? — of posts that you might have missed one or two as they were bumped down and off the front page by recent arrivals.

In the local tradition of rounding up posts on a specific title for the convenience of serious readers (see our Hunger Games round up page for a previous effort), here is the growing catalog of links to the work here so far. We recorded a podcast last night with Keith Hawk at MuggleNet that I know you will enjoy (because we had a lot of laughs and mind-blown moments ourselves while recording it).

Until Keith posts that show (he has!), browse and catch-up on the posts we reference throughout that wild and wide ranging discussion of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!

the-doom-bar-professorJohn Granger:

Unlocking Fantastic Beasts: Finding the Text Round Up

Part 5A: So What? The Found Text and Its Meaning

Part 5B: The Shooting Script — A Corrected Text for Serious Readers

Part 5C: Conclusions and Predictions


Elizabeth Baird-Hardy

Louise Freeman

Emily Strand

MuggleNet Academia: Harry Potter and ‘The Indian in the Cupboard’ – Rowling’s Missteps and Misappropriation in ‘History of Magic in North America’

Professor Amy Sturgis and Allison Mills, two serious students and admirers of J. K. Rowling’s artistry and meaning in her Hogwarts Saga, are Native Americans and scholars of First Nations culture and treatment of indigenous peoples in literature. They join Keith Hawk and John Granger to discuss the controversy surrounding Rowling’s depiction of Native Americans and her use of symbols and characters from First Nations traditions in ‘History of Magic in North America.’

Is it all overblown political correctness from minorities looking to play the victim to supposed colonial oppressors? Or has J. K. Rowling, self-proclaimed champion of the marginalized and ‘other,’ over stepped herself in careless, damaging, and negligent story telling at the expense of peoples persistently persecuted or forgotten?

Join us for a wide-ranging and penetrating discussion of an issue that won’t go away because it tells us so much about the focus of Rowling’s work and, as important, the lack of care in other aspects of her writing. Listen and then join in the discussion in the comment boxes below!

MuggleNet Academia #50: Harry Potter and the Genetics of Wizarding

Duke’s Eric Spana and super guest Priyanka Nadar join Keith and John for a discussion of the only science, precluding metaphysics, of great relevance in the Wizarding World: Genetics!

Purebloods, Squibs, and the real reason that witches and wizards have not learned how to manipulate chromosomes or the larger gene pool with a wave of the wand — Join us for a fun and fascinating conversation of what Rowling gets right and wrong in her fictional depiction of genetically determined yet transcendentally magical heroes and heroines.

What are the chances that Aunt Petunia’s recessive magical gene could become active in Dudley? Have a listen and find out!