New ‘Reading, Writing Rowling’ Podcast

 

 

Reading, Writing, Rowling: Tolkien Again

 

From Laurie Beckoff’s description of this episode over at MuggleNet.com:

Katy and John continue the conversation with Dr. Sara Brown and Dr. Amy Sturgis, this time focusing on the fans and the film versions of the iconic fantasy series of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. We discuss whether the Rowling and Tolkien fandoms are oppositional or intersecting, and what the newer Rowling fan community can learn from Tolkien fans’ experiences. In both fandoms, there are questions about how people became interested in the worlds (books, movies, cosplay), intergenerational and global differences, and people who mingle elements of Middle-Earth and the Wizarding World in their own creative fan productions. Amy asks, “What Hogwarts house would Galadriel have been in?”

We compare fans’ creative expressions and consider whether these offer fans a chance to critique Tolkien and Rowling, especially through what Sara calls “writing into the gaps,” which allows fans to greatly expand the worlds they love so much by focusing on neglected characters and scenes. Fan discussions of the authors’ approaches to race and gender exist in both fan communities. Tolkien and Rowling readers alike seek immersive experiences, too, that allow them to live in the Shire or attend a wizarding school. Fans of Middle-earth and the Wizarding World seek out communities based on “loved things held in common.”

Part 1 of this Tolkien-Rowling discussion can be found here: ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling: It’s Tolkien!

Reading, Writing, Rowling: It’s Tolkien!

From Laurie Beckoff’s write-up at MuggleNet:

What does the Wizarding World owe to Middle-Earth?

This month, Katy and John talk about the fantasy worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling with guests Dr. Sara Brown (Rydal Penrhos School and Signum University) and Dr. Amy Sturgis (Lenoir-Rhyne University). Though Rowling has minimized the influence of Tolkien’s saga on her own world-building, readers can spot several connections at the superficial level, from names (Wormtongue/Wormtail, Butterbur/butterbeer, Longbottom) to frightening magical beings (Ringwraiths/Dementors, Shelob/Aragog) and important magical objects (Mirror of Galadriel/Mirror of Erised/Pensieve). The influence carries over to the themes (coping with mortality, loyalty, and friendship) as well as their critiques of modern society. Both series classify as “fairy stories” according to Tolkien’s definitive essay on the subject. Dr Sturgis calls Rowling’s work “a modern-day Tolkienian project.”

Such influence does not mean that Rowling’s wizarding world is derivative. John explains how the source of the two critiques of the modern operate in different ways (conservative or subversive). Sara agrees that both are responding to modernity, though they approach the modern from distinctive points of view – one longingly looking to the past and the other hopefully looking toward the future – which relate to the distinctive times in the 20th century during which they wrote their fiction. Their approaches to transformation are revealed in their uses of literary alchemy, and Sara provides an alchemical metanarrative for the Middle-earth saga. John suggests that Rowling did not learn literary alchemy from Tolkien, but that both authors derive their understanding from deep reading in the western literary tradition.

We delve into the authors’ world-building, their narrative patterns, their evocation of mythology, and even their creation of new collective myths. Comparing these two authors’ worlds allows readers to deepen their understanding of how narratives work to depict as well as create profound transformation.

And that is only Part 1!

Laugh out Loud with Reading, Writing, Rowling Episode 26: Harry Potter and Humor

What do “Gran’s on the run,” Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the Rotfang conspiracy have in common?  They are all among the funniest elements highlighted by the podcasters of Reading Writing, Rowling. This is the show I have wanted to do for years.  Best of all, it’s only the first of two parts, so more to come!

Join me, Katy McDaniel, Emily Strand and Caitlin Harper for a discussion of how Rowling makes us laugh, and what the humor does for the Harry Potter series!

Literary Alchemy and the Mythic Context ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ Episode 25

 

From the MuggleNet podcast page:

In this episode, Katy and John do a deep dive into the symbolism and transformative power of J.K. Rowling’s work. First, John describes the concept of literary alchemy and how literature can effect an alchemical transformation on readers. Then, special guest Evan Willis (University of Dallas) explains how Renaissance alchemical symbolism intertwines with classical myth in Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike. From the Orestes myth to Castor and Pollux and Leda and the swan, we learn about the well of myths Rowling draws from in her literary creations. Willis particularly directs us to the importance of a Hermes/Mercury figure to serve as the invisible force behind the uniting of opposites. Who is this mysterious figure in Harry Potter and in the Strike books? Listen to find out the surprising answers!

Does literary alchemy work on us the same way when we’re watching films? We tackle this issue in light of the classical references in the Fantastic Beastsmovies. We also try to predict the next developments in Strike and Fantastic Beasts based on our understanding of the deep mythic context in both series. We’ll help you sort out the stories of Leta and Theseus, Dumbledore and Grindelwald, Cormoran and Robin, and Shanker and Rokeby and anticipate where they might be headed.