Calling Professor McGonagall…2012 Academic Conference in Scotland to Feature Hogwarts Professors

Those of you who hail from the Old World, or who have some frequent flyer points just begging to be used, don’t miss this fantastic opportunity coming up next year! The University of St. Andrews in Scotland is hosting a two-day academic conference to consider the literary depths of the Hogwarts adventures. A Brand of Fictional Magic: Imaginative Empathy in Harry Potter will bring together a wide variety of scholars, including our own Headmaster, John Granger, as a keynote speaker, along with Jessica Tiffin. One of our other HogPros, the esteemed John Patrick Pazdziora, is in charge of the paper proposals, so when you send yours in, I hear he likes Licorice Wands, so perhaps you should sneak in a couple! For the complete announcement and Call for Papers, follow the jump, and we hope many of you will be there next May!
Call for Papers:
A Brand of Fictional Magic: Imaginative Empathy in Harry Potter

A two day conference hosted by the School of English, University of St Andrews
17-18 May 2012, Kennedy Hall, St Andrews, Scotland

The relentless success of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997-2007) evokes words like phenomenon and catastrophe. With the conclusion of the film franchise and the launch of, the series is receiving increased academic consideration in conferences, articles, and monographs. However, relatively little work has been done directly engaging with the series as a literary text. This conference attempts to begin redressing that lack.

Rowling’s combination of fantasy and school-story genres, her use of folkloric archetypes and mythopoeic symbolism, and her social and religious messages render the Harry Potter books a point of interest—and controversy—to scholars from a wide range of disciplines. This conference seeks to critically explore Rowling’s concept of imaginative empathy, the ability to “learn and understand, without having experienced.” Of particular interest are ways in which the power of empathy, in addition to its being of socio-political necessity, might be read as Rowling’s “brand of fictional magic.”

We invite papers and panels that engage with the text to discuss the centrality of empathy to the economies of the creative artist. Relevant topics might include:

• The poetics of empathy
• Symbolic or archetypal depictions of empathy
• Readings of the series as children’s or YA literature
• Mythopoesis and the re-appropriation of folklore
• Medievalism and depictions of the Middle Ages in the Wizarding World
• Space, landscape, or architecture
• Representations and uses of socialization or maturation
• Depictions of education and pedagogy, empathetic or bounded
• Rowling’s concepts of “mental agoraphobia” and “wilful unimagination”
• Literary influences on the series
• Textual or semiotic analysis of the narrative
• Genre criticism, viz., Gothic, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, School Story, Dystopia, et al.
• Narrative voice and authority
• Political empathy, class action, or solidarity

Keynote speakers will be John Granger and Jessica Tiffin.

Papers will be 20 minutes, and may discuss any of the seven books individually or the series as a whole. Please submit a 300-word (max.) abstract in .doc, .docx., or .pdf format with a short CV to John Patrick Pazdziora ( by 15 November 2011.


  1. Thanks, Professor Hardy. Chocolate frogs are also welcome, btw, and the one card I really need to complete my collection is a Nicholas Flamel…;)

  2. While I’m not qualified to write, I would love to attend, with one major problem: I’ll be in Scotland September 21 through October 3 this year, not May of next year…

    Oh well. Can’t complain, because I’ll be in Scotland!

  3. So stoked for this! I’m starting a PhD program this Fall at St Andrews and just found out about this conference. I’ll definitely be there. I’ve listened to your Biola Torrey lectures on HP many times!

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