Reading, Writing, Rowling 15: Quidditch!

J. K. Rowling tweeted out an answer last week to her least favorite subject — reader complaints about the scoring system of Quidditch — in which she explained that “it makes total sense.” Her conclusion was that “Quidditch is the human condition.” Right on schedule to explain that cryptic comment, Katy McDaniel has released a ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast on just this subject with two Quidditch experts.

From the write-up of the podcast at MuggleNet:

Do you skip over the Quidditch scenes in the Harry Potter novels? Katy and guest expert Emily Strand talk with author and wizard activist Caitlin Elizabeth Harper about the meaning of Quidditch – the sport from Queerditch Marsh – for the Harry Potter series. We look at the social and cultural value of the game in the wizarding world: its role in helping Harry feel connected to this new realm, shaping identities, and revealing the character of wizard society. But as a sport, Quidditch often frustrates readers who find it nonsensical and a sideline distraction from the main story. Emily and Caitlin both explain how central this sport really is to understanding the battle between good and evil in the wizarding world.

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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? 

 

Super Lethal White Speculation Podcast! Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 14: Cormoran Strike – and Harry Potter?

Tuesday morning, just after midnight or later in the day when your bookstore opens for business, we’ll all be reading Strike 4, aka Lethal White, the latest Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike whudunnit. I have the day off from my Muggle job Tuesday and, no, I won’t be answering email or cell phone calls. It’s like a throw back to Midnight Madness parties and the anticipation of a first reading of a Harry Potter novel… and those are happy memories for Rowling fans, right?

I will, of course, be posting on a daily basis here about Lethal White from late on the 18th and the days following for at least a month. Until Tuesday, though, what are we to do?

Marietta College’s History professor and Potter Pundit Katy McDaniel, the host of MuggleNet’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast anticipated our frustration in the waning moments of the Great Wait and recorded a conversation among three Strike Scholars, Karen Kebarle, Louise Freeman, and myself, about all things Cormoran with special emphasis on what we can expect in Lethal White. It was a ‘wow’ meeting of minds and I recommend it to anyone wishing for an appetizer beyond the excerpt teaser published yesterday in The Guardian.

Dr. McDaniel describes the podcast conversation this way:

J.K. Rowling’s second literary career as Robert Galbraith acts as a commentary on her Harry Potter series and also sets out on a new literary path. With guests Dr. Karen Kebarle and Dr. Louise Freeman, Katy and John examine the connections between the Harry Potter series and the first three Cormoran Strike novels. J.K. Rowling’s artistic signatures appear in the detective novels, in particular via the classical literary allusions that appear in both. Do apparent correspondences reveal more than just that the same mind created both Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike (or the reader’s tendency to see connections everywhere)? An understanding of mythology and ancient literature helps us ponder where the detective series might be headed in the fourth book, due out in mid-September.

Some fans have made the leap from Harry Potter to Cormoran Strike, but others have not. Our conversation explores why this second series has received less popular and scholarly attention, as well as the compelling qualities of the novels – the characters and relationships, plotting, descriptions of modern London, and themes – that have drawn us to them. We also contemplate the larger story arc: Is this essentially a romance between Cormoran and Robin? Does Strike have a “Moriarty” foil who will eventually become important? What will we learn about Cormoran’s father and mother?

Predicting where J.K. Rowling is heading with the series is tricky, but close readings of the previous books, her social media clues, Lethal White’s synopsis, and Rowling’s slow narrative release in the Harry Potter books point us in certain key directions. Do you think we got it right?

If that’s not enough, check out my post ‘Lethal White: What We Can Expect‘ and my most recent speculations about the White Horse idea with which Rowling has been teasing us vis a vis Lethal White in ‘Heroin Dark Lord.’

On Monday I’ll share my Day-Before-Publication ‘List of Ten Things that Have to Happen’ and my ‘Off-The-Wall Prediction List’ of the things I’d love to see in Lethal White. Let me know what you think of the MuggleNet podcast — and stay tuned for an exciting week of Strike posts here at HogwartsProfessor!

Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 13: So What is a Harry Potter Pilgrimage?

Don’t give up on me, please! A post on the White Horse red herring Rowling-Galbraith has been giving her serious readers the last year to set us up for a big twist in Lethal White is on its way.

Until then, listen in on this fun conversation with host Kathryn McDaniel and professors Caroline Toy and Beatrice Groves about ‘making pilgrimage’ and what that means in the context of Harry Potter fandom’s fascination with Wizarding World theme parks and film studio exhibitions. Enjoy!

From the MuggleNet page for this Reading, Writing, Rowling podcast:

On this episode, we discuss the practice of Harry Potter fan-travel to sites of importance in the writing and filming of the Harry Potter series.

Caroline Toy (Ohio State University) explains the nature and variety of fan travels as well as the emotional and psychological resonance of places associated with the Harry Potter series. We debate whether such travels are genuinely pilgrimages—and what elements of narrative and ritual contribute to the feeling among some fans that they are.

Beatrice Groves (Oxford, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter) helps us connect fan pilgrimages to early modern religious pilgrimages to compare how they function for those undertaking the journey. Are places where Rowling wrote the novels more inspiring or “authentic” than film sites? Through mediation, ritual, “queueing up,” and management of space, popular attractions may interfere with fans’ direct experience of a site or allow fans to enter the world of Harry Potter in our imaginations and generate a feeling of community.

And don’t forget to visit the gift shop! We also analyze the role of commerce and souvenirs in the fan travel experience. What do you take back home with you, and how does it help you remember your journey? Whether you’ve been a fan traveler or are planning your next holiday, you won’t want to miss this discussion!

Reading, Writing, Rowling Episode 12: Serious Readers Talk About Cursed Child Performances in NYC, London

“Reading, Writing Rowling” Episode 11: “Experiencing The Cursed Child: London and New York”

A Great Conversation with Potter Pundits who have seen ‘Cursed Child’ on stage in London and New York City!

From the MuggleNet.com Page About the Podcast:

Whether or not you think it’s canon, seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child offers a unique Harry Potter experience. Readers of the script were often disappointed, but those who attend the play rave about it. Are you curious about how Harry Potter aficionados responded to seeing the play?

On this episode, John and Katy interview guests who have seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child either in London or in New York. Dolores Gordon-Smith (author of the Jack Haldean mysteries) and her daughter Elspeth Gordon-Smith (film studies graduate and primary school teacher) saw the play with the original cast in London, while Tracy Bealer (Borough of Manhattan Community College) and Heidi Tandy (FictionAlley and Organization for Transformative Works) have recently seen the Broadway version. We talk about their impressions of the play as a literary event and a fan experience. We’ll hear about their favorite characters, scenes, and special effects and reasons Harry Potter fans will want to go see this play – but also critiques of the story and the interpretation of our beloved wizarding world characters. Come along for impressions and analyses that will whet your appetite for your own experience with the play or allow you to live vicariously through those who’ve had a chance to see the show.

Why should you care about a story Rowling didn’t write? Here are a few urls to catch you up on a play that is taking over the world —

I hope you enjoy learning about what serious readers think of ‘Cursed Child’ as much I enjoyed speaking with them (and having my misconceptions corrected!). Let me know what you think in the comment boxes below!