MuggleNet Academia 13: Political Science & the Hogwarts Saga!

Georgetown University Professor Daniel Nexon joined the MuggleNet Academia crew last week to talk about reading Harry Potter’s adventures through the lenses of a political scientist. Here’s a synopsis of the program:

‘Political Science in the Harry Potter Series’

Daniel Nexon, Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University and co-editor of Harry Potter and International Relations, believes that ideas are a driving force in political science and specifically in global relationships between nations. This ‘Constructivist’ position invites a discussion of the political ideas implicit and explicit to Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter books and how they simultaneously reflect our political thinking and shape and inform our changing ideas. In MuggleNet Academia episode 13, Keith and John ask Prof Nexon about the Nazi allegory of the books, the take-away message about the War on Terrorism, even about the important differences between the idea of ‘liberal’ in the US and UK and how mistaking the one for the other affects our thinking about Harry and Ms. Rowling. Tune in your Wizard Wireless for a fascinating conversation about ‘Harry Potter and Political Science.’

Check it out by clicking here and listening in! Many thanks to Prof Nexon for the lively and challenging conversation.

[Read more…]

MuggleNet Academia 12: House-Elves — and House-Wives!

Marietta College Professor Katy McDaniel joined the MuggleNet Academia crew this week to talk about house-elves and the various ways to understand their trials and triumphs in Harry Potter’s adventures. Here’s a synopsis of the program:

Elfin Mystique in the Harry Potter Series’

House-elves are essential pieces in the setting and backdrop of the Hogwarts Saga, but, as individual actors and as a Magical species, do they really do much more than highlight the prejudice, ideas, and character of the ‘important’ players of the series? Dobby, Winky, Kreacher, and the kitchen crew are good for a great laugh and illustration of how evil the Malfoys are, of Dumbledore’s politics, how sensitive and idealistic Hermione is, what a boob Ron can be, and of Sirius’ serious blind-spots; do they matter, though, in the end? Kathryn McDaniel of Marietta College talks with Keith, John, and [student name] to argue that Rowling’s treatment of the House-elves (and Dobby particularly) is “at the core of her message for the whole series.” The MuggleNet Academia gang talk about feminism — are the House-elves really house-wives? — as well as why Hermione drops S.P.E.W. recruiting, the American Communist Party, even Dobby as Christian hero and Existentialist. Tune in for a wild ride with Kreacher and Kompany!

Check it out by clicking here and listening in! Many thanks to Prof McDaniel for the lively and challenging conversation. [Read more…]

MuggleNet Academia 11: Psychology and Harry Potter

Hogwarts and Mary Baldwin College Professor Louise Freeman joined the MuggleNet Academia crew to talk about the mental landscape of Harry Potter and the legion of characters populating his seven adventures. Here’s a synopsis of the program:

‘The Psychology of Harry Potter’

As soon as serious discussion of the Harry Potter novels began, there were interpretations of the books from a specifically psychological perspective. Jungians, Freudians, and other schools of western psychology have engaged the books as texts about psychological types and spiritual archetypes — and even used them in therapy with patients! MuggleNet Academia interviews Psychology professor Louise Freeman of Mary Baldwin College for answers to questions about the Dark Lord’s psychological condition — socio or psychopath? — Ms. Rowling’s admitted depression and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and penetrating second looks at Mad Eye Moody, Dudley Dursley, even Winky! Stand by for some fascinating insights into the artistry and meaning of the Hogwarts Saga from our position on the doctor’s couch…

Check it out by clicking here and listening in! Many thanks to Prof Freeman for the lively and challenging conversation.

MuggleNet Academia: Amy H. Sturgis and John Mark Reynolds

I have been out-of-town and out-of-touch for too long, for which absence of blogging I don’t foresee an immediate end, alas. The several talks I have given this summer — from the Keynote talk at St. Andrews and the Full Circle Bookstore cycle of seven lectures, one for each Potter adventure, to the marathon ‘HogPro Greatest Hits’ filmed at LeakyCon 3 and the latest, a Literary Alchemy talk at the University of Florida last week — I hope will eventually be available online.

I’ve kept my hand in the Harry Potter universe, but not much here at HogwartsProfessor. No promises for that to change real soon, as I said, but I do hope to share thoughts here about Casual Vacancy this weekend and next. Look up!

What I have been doing at least twice a month is talking at the MuggleNet Academia podcast alongside that website goliath’s representative, Keith Hawk. The latest two shows have been ones that I enjoyed very much, not only because both the guests are friends of this blog but because of the depth, speed, and challenging quality of these conversations about our favorite boy wizard and the 21st Century’s Shared Text.

Dr. Amy H. Sturgis talked about Fairy Tales and Harry Potter and she took a pronouncedly Tolkien-esque stance in strong contrast with the nominalist approach championed by Prof Joel Hunter at ASU. John Mark Reynolds, Provost at Houston Baptist University, Great Books wonk, and author of Chasing Shadows: Back to Barterra, rocked my world by blowing up several of my ideas of what constitutes Harry Potter canon with apt and piercing references to Plato, Calvin & Hobbes, as well as the inevitable Star Trek and LOTR notes. His comments about the future of fandom, in academia and elsewhere, are stunning in their simplicity, which ring of truth alone justifies your listening in.

For Dr. Sturgis, click here. For John Mark Reynolds, visit this MuggleNet page. And stay tuned — I’m working on discussions on Harry Potter and Psychology with Dr. Louise Freeman and on the Political Science of the Saga with Georgetown’s Daniel Nexon. Onward and upward!

MuggleNet Academia: Folktale Structure and Potter Mania

MuggleNet’s Keith Hawk, host of their MuggleNet Academia podcast, has written me to say the latest show, a discussion with independent scholar Joel Hunter about the folktale elements in Harry Potter that he believes is part of an explanation of Potter Mania, is available for downloading. From the MuggleNet news bulletin:

The latest episode of MuggleNet Academia is now released for your listening and academic pleasure. Lesson 7: ‘Folktale Structure as the Key to the Success of the Harry Potter Series’ discusses an in-depth look at the research behind the relationship of Folktale structures as described by Vladimir Propp and if this is the reason that the Harry Potter series is so a successful in today’s world.

Join the Host of the show, Keith Hawk, and Co-Host John Granger, The Hogwarts Professor and author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures, as we are joined by  Joel B. Hunter, independent scholar and Potter Pundit, and Arizona State University student Rita McGlynn.

Lesson 7:

  • Researching Harry Potter success through Folktale
  • Vladimir Propp 31 Basic Elements of a Folktale
  • Is Dumbledore considered the real hero of this story?
  • Can we apply this theory to other series’ like Hunger Games, or Twilight?
  • And much more!

To listen to the show and discover more insight into the fabulous literature of author J.K. Rowling, download the lesson right here, or head on over to iTunes. You can also listen directly from Facebook. [Read more…]