Last fall, the Staunton Public Library contacted me about doing a presentation for this year’s Harry Potter Book Night on Feb. 2nd. The theme was “The Professors of Hogwarts.” I couldn’t really think of a fun activity for kids that stemmed directly from my work on Harry Potter and psychology; I had an feeling inducing Dementor-like depression or Moody-esque PTSD in the youngsters would be frowned upon. So with my (reasonably) close-cropped and (increasingly) grey hair, I decided to don my academic gown and matching witch hat and appear as Professor Grubbly-Plank, healer of Hedwig and expert on owls. [Read more…]
Apparently, since the groundhog did behold his shadow, six more weeks of winter are on their way. Quite honestly, the groundhogs where I live could see the shadow of Elvis and we’d still be lucky to get off with only six more weeks of ice melt, mud, bitter cold, and static electricity that could easily torch a Zeppelin. However, in the spirit of things, since today is Groundhog Day, references will abound to the Bill Murray film about maximum déjà vu. It is also Thursday, which has become the day to post pictures of the past. In honor of those two events colliding, I thought it would be fun to re-visit some past posts that I really enjoyed writing and which, since they were some time ago, some of our newer Hogwarts Professor readers might have missed. So, turn that alarm clock back a few years, Mr. Murray, and let’s relive a few past posts that may ignite new conversations!
Last week, we were treated to Emily Strand’s outstanding post on the origins of the character of Princess Leia, whose cultural value we have never doubted, though the recent death of the woman who embodied Leia, the one-of-a-kind Carrie Fisher, has certainly prompted more serious thought on this remarkable character who is so much more than a distinctive hairdo. As we saw last week, Leia has complex roots woven throughout literature, film, and history. As we’ll see this week, Leia herself has had a profound influence on a variety of arts in the last 40 years, most notably, literature, especially the literature we study and enjoy here. So, join me for that chat after the jump (to the next page, not to hyperspace; this is much safer, with no need for precise calculations to avoid flying right through a star or landing too close to a supernova).
A little over two years ago, we published our original recommendation of The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell, along with an interview with the delightful author herself. Last summer, Penguin published the companion novel, Thornghost. It is a haunting, evocative story that will enchant younger readers, and those of us old enough to read fairy stories again, in very different ways. Like The Twistrose Key, Thornghost follows a human child who travels to another world, a world populated by animals once loved by children in our own world. This novel, though, takes place in a different stretch of alternate geography and has its own unique flavor, its own remarkable story and characters shaped by Ms. Almhjell, who most graciously agreed to another interview, sharing with us her thoughts and experiences around returning to this magical world. Come get better acquainted with this wonderful author and her enchanting book!
As the fall semester comes to a close for college students and faculty across the country, this is a nice time to reflect on academic matters. Some of us here are not just Hogwarts Professors, but actual real-life professors at schools that are not reached via train from Platform 9 3/4 (though the name of my school is an acronym for a three-county area, not a specific place name, so it is sort of magical!). So we’ve been grading like mad people and trying to wrap up the ends of our terms. It is a good time, then, for us to reflect on the pedagogical strategies and teaching lessons we can all take from Harry’s professors. Even though they teach subjects that are largely fabricated, the faculty members of the fictional Hogwarts do provide some pearls of wisdom for those of us in the non-fictional teaching profession. [Read more…]