Help ‘MuggleNet Academia’ Win a 2013 Podcast Award!

A Message from Keith Hawk, Host and Producer of ‘MuggleNet Academia,’ the Podcast for Serious Readers of Harry Potter:

Hello, HogwartsProfessor — MuggleNetAcademia Family!

I am incredibly honored to announce that MuggleNet Academia, featuring John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor, has received a nomination for the 2013 Podcast Awards in the category of Education. This is all due to what John and the guests of our show have brought to the discussion table and the fans are rewarding us with this nomination.

I would like nothing more than for MNet Academia to be announced as the winner for this award, but to do that, we have to beat some very good podcast competition in our category. I will need ALL of you to help with this by not only casting your votes, but helping to spread the word just like you have when you’ve heard a program that you really liked. i.e., Tweet, Like, Blog, Message all about the award nomination and how to vote.

The MuggleNet Podcast Family has been nominated in 4 categories, so while you are voting for the MuggleNet Academia show, I would like to ask that you also cast your vote for our other shows:

  • Alohomora! – People’s Choice and Entertainment Categories
  • Hogwarts Radio – Best Produced Category
  • MuggleNet Academia – Education Category

Allegiant Guest Post: A Better Answer to Divergent Questions

Science and the Factions by Chana McCarthy

Full disclosure — So far I’ve only skimmed through Allegiant since the story just failed to grab me.  I’ll look for inspiration from John and HogPro readers to see if a close reading is worth the time.

I loved Divergent. Tris and Tobias were strong, well-drawn characters and their growing love story was compelling.  The idea of the Factions was absolutely fascinating and my interest in life in the varied Factions even carried me through Insurgent (though I thought it a weaker book).

Any work of fantasy or science fiction has to be plausible enough for a reader to suspend disbelief; this is particularly challenging for authors who attempt multi-volume series.  Every ‘alien’ world begs certain questions.  The Harry Potter reader has to be able to believe that witches and wizards are roaming around contemporary London without us Muggles being any the wiser.  JK Rowling accomplished this with the Statute of Secrecy and the self-segregation of Wizarding kind.  Indeed these simple plot devices provide much of the ongoing humor in the Harry Potter series (consider one of my favorite chapters, The Other Minister).

The world of Divergent raises three basic questions:

1. Why was everyone in Chicago isolated from the outside world?
2. How did the Faction system evolve — or alternatively why was it imposed?
3. Why were the Factionless and Divergent considered a threat?

Allegiant postulates that the system arose out of a failed genetic experiment, but this answer is quite implausible and leaves Question 3 largely unanswered. It is unfortunate that Roth (a very talented, but young writer) seems to have done too little research and apparently never ran her ideas past any one trained in biology and/or medicine.  In fact there is a very simple, scientifically possible answer to the three questions that would have given the series a more interesting direction. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Professor Patrick McCauley, Chestnut Hill College, ‘The Symbol of the Father in Prisoner of Azkaban’

Dr. Patrick McCauley is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Chestnut Hill College just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I spoke with him and his colleague Professor Karen Wendling last night about the course they have taught in Chestnut Hill’s innovative Interdisciplinary Honors Program and about papers each presented at last year’s academic conference. It was a conversation you can hear at MuggleNet Academia this week, and, if I say so myself, it’s a podcast you’ll enjoy. Prof McCauley shared his thinking about ‘The Symbol of the Father in Prisoner of Azkaban,’ which was fascinating even in thumbnail vignette. I asked his permission to share his 10 minute lecture notes here so you could also benefit from his more ordered presentation. Enjoy!

October 26, 2012 – Harry Potter Conference – Chestnut Hill College

“The Symbol of the Father in the Prisoner of Azkaban”­

It can often be difficult to determine our own most excellent or fulfilling aspiration.  Paul Tillich discusses the necessity of orienting symbols within the search for our most appropriate individual purpose.  Joseph Campbell focuses in on the specific symbol of the Father as inspiring guide toward authentic identity and personal mission.  J. K. Rowling offers a sophisticated glimpse into the nature of this empowering symbol in The Prisoner of Azkaban.  Rowling effectively and purposely brings the external and internal image of the Father into productive tension.  This talk will attempt to reveal that belief in the literal existence of the Father figure may perform an indispensable role within the overall dynamic of symbolic orientation and inspiration.

[Read more…]

Guest Post: Janet Batchler on ‘Newt Scamander’

Janet Batchler, profound Potter Pundit, renowned Hollywood screenwriter, USC prof, and friend of this blog, left her thoughts about the new Joanne Rowling film project on a thread where many readers might miss it so we’ve bumped it up to a Guest Post for your comments and corrections> Thank you, Janet, for dropping in!

Coming to the discussion here of the Newt Scamander film late, but thought I’d check in as a voice from Hollywood.

•I doubt WB “put the squeeze on” JKR.  …When my writing partner and I were asked to write a Batman movie, the call from WB to our agent began, “We’re offering you Warner Bros.’ most important corporate asset.”  That’s what HP is now:  WB’s most important corporate asset.  Putting the squeeze on the person who created that asset (and could create more of it) would be highly unproductive.

•We do know that WB courted JKR for over a year regarding this project.  That means that she almost certainly said no to writing an HP sequel, no to writing the story of the HP generation’s kids, no to writing the story of the Marauders, no to writing the story of the Founders. Good for her.  All of those have more than a whiff of exploitation, and there would be nothing for JKR to explore creatively.

•JKR spent most of her adult life on HP.  Since the HP saga concluded, she has been trying to do very different things.  The tension of people wanting her to return to the HP world (not just WB — all those millions of fans as well) combined with her love of that world must be overwhelming at times.  Finding a way for her to return to it that is not a retread of HP in any way is a win for everyone involved. [Read more…]

Christine Wesley: Literary Alchemy in Allegiant – Rubedo

For part one of this series of Divergent literary alchemy posts by Christine Wesley, Divergent as Nigredo, click here. For part two of this series, Insurgent as Albedo, click here.

Allegiant: “One Choice Will Define You”

Welcome to the final installment of a three-part “Unlocking” series on the allegorical, alchemical artistry behind Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. In this post, we will attempt to predict the plot of the series finale, Allegiant, as the rubedo to Divergent’s nigredo and Insurgent’s albedo.

When we last left the pages of Insurgent, Tris and Tobias were crouched on the bottom floor of Erudite headquarters, watching a video file of Amanda Ritter/Edith Prior’s revelation that the Factions are in fact a grand experiment in human behavior, set apart to develop minds capable of rebuilding a world destroyed by moral decay. A growing concern for Tris over the course of Insurgent was whether or not to pursue the truth of what lay beyond the fence; at the cliff-hanger conclusion, we discover that the Factions, enclosed within the ruined city of Chicago, were protected from three things in the outside world:

1. The water supply

2. Technology

3. Societal structure

One hallmark of literary alchemy is the presence of soul triptychs, a trio of objects or persons that each embodies an essential aspect of human existence that, when working in harmony, produce righteous living and thinking. Intriguingly, in these three non-human elements, there exists such a tripartite division: body (water), mind (technology), and heart (society structure). The Five Factions were, in essence, separated bodily from the outside world via an enclosed water system (remember the Amity’s water filtration system and hydroponic agriculture, and Lake Michigan’s reduction to the Marsh), a yet-unknown form of technology, and a yet-unknown pattern for human relationships. These reasons for the Factions’ separation will serve as major plot points for Book 3, and I will incorporate my theories as to their explanation over the course of a larger exegesis of how Allegiant might satisfy the requirements as the Tris Prior rubedo.

As John examined in this post about the alchemy of Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay, we can expect Roth’s rubedo novel to follow the “allegory of the soul’s transformation” in the “story of the soul’s life in the world” post-baptism, a world she finds “unrecognizable.” Alchemy is chiefly concerned with the resolution of contraries: throughout the first two books, Tris unraveled the divisions inherent in her status as one of the Divergent. In Book 1 she sorted out her conflicted understanding of Dauntless and Abnegation, and in Book 2 between Candor and Amity.  Duality and mirroring have already proved a significant theme in Divergent and Insurgent, so look for this idea to find its greatest manifestation in Allegiant, when Tris and Tobias to wrestle with their faculties for Erudite (more on that below).

Based on interviews and blog posts from Roth, Allegiant teasers released by HarperCollins, and  surface-level clues from the close of Insurgent, a few ideas can be inferred about the contraries to be resolved in Book 3. Perhaps the most interesting fact that has been revealed about Allegiant is that the book will have not one, but two narrators: Tris AND Tobias. First, Roth’s thoughts on this deviation:

[Read more…]