Hogwarts Professor at Yale

In late February of this year I traveled to New Haven to sit in as a guest expert of sorts in Prof. Danielle Tumminio’s “Christian Theology and Harry Potter” course (CSBR 352b). It was a Hogwarts Professor dream date, as you might imagine. Picture a neo-gothic seminar room with a diverse group of very thoughtful and well-read young adults who meet to discuss topics like sacramental theology in the context of their reading of the Harry Potter epic. And my book was part of the reading for the course.

The course description said that it was an “exploration of ways that the Harry Potter novels espouse a Christian theological worldview” with “readings from theological texts as well as the novel series.” Prof. Tumminio, [Read more…]

Happy Day for Granger Gang

Stop the clocks! Jim Dale’s recorded book version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finally became available for my children to check out from the local library. They put their name on the waiting list when we moved here last June and the three CD copies went into circulation early last August, so, do the math. A Nine Months Wait!

These books may have fallen from the New York Times bestsellers list, but it’s Deathly Hallows Day again at my house. I have read the book aloud to the younger trio, of course, and one of them has read it herself – but, when they came home from the library yesterday, you would have thought Santa had come early to Allentown this year. They ran into my office saying “Dad, look what we’ve got!” [Read more…]

Reader Response to Harry Potter in Israel and Iran

Here’s a different take on the spiritual understanding and underpinnings of Harry Potter from Israel. It turns out Harry is not a Christ figure, which makes sense in a way; but who would have thought that Jesus would be cast as He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named? Talk about variance in Reader Response… [Read more…]

Harry Potter to be Taught in British Schools, etc.

And to be part of the A-Level Exams, no less. Read about it here and here.

However appropriate or inappropriate this selection may be, it certainly challenges the assumption that there will be a significant time lag between Ms. Rowling’s popular success and her acceptance by the Academy. The Brits have made our favorite boy wizard hero no small part of their secondary school English curriculum.

Perhaps this means there will soon be an endowed chair in Hogwarts Studies at Eton for which I can apply… [Read more…]

How Does an Author’s Celebrity Affect Reader Response?

No, I still don’t want to discuss the merits of Ms. Rowling’s law suit against the publishers of Mr. Vander Ark’s Lexicon. That is a subject for the judge trying the case — and everyone who thinks they know how it will turn out and what that ruling will mean in the long term is kidding themselves and, frankly, wasting their time in an especially unedifying way.

On the other hand, on a site for serious readers, I am obliged to note trends in criticism of Ms. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Linda McCabe sent me a link this morning to an article by a notable writer about Ms. Rowling and her lawsuit that suggests that a backlash against Ms. Rowling is building and that this will affect understanding of her books for years to come.

That — and how much our beliefs about an author color our understanding of his or work — are subjects worth talking about. Do we love or loath Harry largely as a function of how we feel about Ms. Rowling? [Read more…]