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!

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