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!

Reading, Writing, Rowling, Episode 10: Adeel Amini Discusses Re-Release of His Interview With J.K. Rowling in 2008

“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 10: “Adeel Amini Discusses His Interview With J.K. Rowling in 2008”

I’ve explained in another post how important Adeel Amini’s 2008 interview with J. K. Rowling is. She says in it, flat out, for instance, that seeing the Christian content of the Hogwarts Saga is reading the books with your eyes open. It’s an astonishing piece of journalism from a prodigy reporter who only this year agreed to re-release the interview. Read my post for more about that.

From the MuggleNet page for the podcast With Adeel Amini:

What happens when a student journalist meets a famous author? Ten years ago, journalism student Adeel Amini spontaneously asked J.K. Rowling for an interview for the University of Edinburgh newspaper. Having spotted her in a coffee shop in 2008, he successfully landed the interview and produced a unique character study of our favorite author in the wake of Book 7’s publication.

Guest Beatrice Groves (author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter), John, and Katy discuss the revealing and distinctive interview on its tenth anniversary with Adeel, now the owner and editor of PressPLAY OK. We talk about how Adeel handled the interview and the unusual moment during which he was able to gain this level of access. His article provided much new information about Rowling’s thoughts on the Christian imagery in the books, her response to the media frenzy over her revelations about Dumbledore’s sexuality in 2007, and her earlier experiences with depression.

Adeel quickly took down the interview as a result of the furor over Rowling’s revelations about her struggles with mental health, and he tells us about that decision as well as why he has decided now to release the interview once again. Adeel’s interview reveals Rowling as a fellow human being who, like the rest of us, has struggles and concerns about what is happening in the world in the 21st century.

Join us to hear about Adeel’s reflections, ten years later, on his conversation with her along with our speculations about queer readings of the Harry Potter books (and Fantastic Beasts), Rowling’s continual revisiting of the wizarding world and subsequent creative efforts, and her relationship with her fans and the media.

Let me know what you think!

Harry Potter and Joyce’s Ulysses? Reading Harry Potter as Literature

“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 9: “’Harry Potter’ and the Prisoner of the Academy: Reading ‘Harry Potter’ as Serious Literature”

Katy McDaniel, host of the ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast at MuggleNet (on which program I am a featured guest), writes about the latest show:

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of people considering the Harry Potter books “just” children’s literature, or bestsellers with little literary merit. This week’s episode confronts the issue of academia’s view of great novels vs. popular novels and how different approaches to literary criticism might help us to see the Harry Potter novels as both.

Professor Konchar Farr explains the characteristics that make novels popular as well as the standards literary critics use to assess whether a novel qualifies as a classic. We consider why novels by women and children’s literature tend to be overlooked by academia and how that may be changing.

Dr. Konchar Farr’s book The Ulysses Delusion examines why James Joyce’s Ulysses always appears at the top of book critic lists when few people have read it and it does not make the lists of readers’ favorite books. She argues that we must pay attention to readers’ assessments of literature; Harry Potter fans demonstrate that readers can love books and critique them at the same time.

Readers’ creative responses to the wizarding world (through fan fiction, performative critiques, and social activist groups like the Harry Potter Alliance) illustrate the power that comes from deep reader engagement with novels. Professor Konchar Farr’s forthcoming edited volume examines the Harry Potterseries from a variety of literary critical perspectives that take the novels seriously as good literature.

The next generation of scholars who grew up reading (and loving) the Harry Potterbooks yet also see them as important literature are adding their voices to academia. How are they bringing academic attention to popular novels like Harry Potter and what theories are they finding useful?

Listen to that conversation here. Please also join the conversation via email (ReadingWritingRowling@gmail.com) or Twitter (ReadWriteRowl)! We’d love to hear from you!