New Year’s Day Request for Feedback

Happy Russian New Year! It is 1 January on the traditional Church Calendar, and though the liturgical New Year in the Orthodox Church is 1 September (old style) and until late in the 18th Century ‘Lady Day’ or Annunciation was the beginning of the new year in the UK and its colonies, many people, especially Slavs in my experience, celebrate today as the day of resolutions, inaugurated habits, and a personal dawn.

That being the case, despite my being anything but a Slavophile, I’d like to open the comment boxes to HogwartsProfessor readers to share their feedback about our posts, our formatting, our focus, our quirky lines of sight, whatever. Help us start the New Year with a better idea of what our readers want to read and hear about. I’m especially hopeful that one and all will share suggestions of topics, books, and authors you’d like us to explore — and if we could find a volunteer to help us pull together the pieces we have assembled for a podcast at long last, that would be the best.

So it’s ‘Open Microphone Night’ all day at HogwartsProfessor — How are we doing? What can we do better? What would you like to read more about? Less about? And, oh, yeah, who do we email to jumpstart our podcast adventure in the New Year? Thanks in advance for your feedback, requests, and help!

“I could not have survived without my colleagues:” David Martin of Hufflepuff Gives the Inside Scoop on the Tournament of Houses.

Editor’s note: Headmaster John and I had the privilege of participating in a Zoom conversation with star Hufflepuff David Martin of the Harry Potter Hogwarts Tournament of Houses, the day after the first episode aired. There’s been a bit of a time delay in sharing the interview with our Hogpro readers, because this was, to my knowledge, the first piece published here that had to be approved by Warner Brothers first. But, the necessary edits have been made, and it’s time to enjoy the inside scoop from the nation’s favorite 70-something Hufflepuff. 

Louise:

Hello and welcome to a little Zoom program here that I am calling “Mirrenwatch” after Dame Helen Mirren, Host of Harry Potter Hogwarts Tournament of Houses. My name is Louise Freeman; I am a professor of psychology at Mary Baldwin University, and I’m also a longtime writer for hogwartsprofessor.com.

I’m here with two very special guests: John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor, otherwise known as the Dean of Harry Potter scholars, and Headmaster of Hogwartsprofessor.com, who is going to tell us a little bit about his role in the recruitment of some very special contestants for the Hogwarts Tournament of houses.

But our most special guest, I would have to say, is David Martin, who, right now, is probably the country’s most beloved Hufflepuff, judging from what I’ve seen on Twitter today. We’re recording this on Monday, November 29th, so the first episode of the series aired last night: Hufflepuff versus Gryffindor. And, be forewarned, there will be many spoilers for that first episode on the show today.

But we’re here with the person who I can say, for sure, was an audience favorite at the show, and seems to be a Twitter favorite today, after leading the Hufflepuff team to victory last night. David Martin, joining us from Wisconsin.

So how are you, David?

David:

Well, I’m well-rested; I’m feeling pretty good. It’s been an amazing 24 hours.

Louise:

I can only imagine. Well, just to let everybody know what we’re about here. I’m going to let both of you introduce yourselves, and tell us a little bit about your involvement with Harry Potter prior to the show. What turned you into a serious Harry Potter fan and a serious Harry Potter scholar? So, John, why don’t you start?

John:

Yes, my part in this conversation should be relatively brief. As the so-called “Dean of Harry Potter Scholars,” I became involved with Harry Potter in the year 2000, when I first started to read the books to my seven children. I quickly became entranced by them, and their depth of meaning, and I wrote a book that became The Hidden Key to Harry Potter in 2002. And, from there, I’ve written five or six books on the subject of J.K. Rowling’s work, and as you mentioned, I write on a regular basis at hogwartsprofessor.com.

Now, most of the posts are about Cormoran Strike, but, in that role, I’ve been among the cadre of Potter pundits for close to 20 years now. From that vantage, I know, pretty much, the academic crowd and I know the fandom experts. I’ve been in anthologies written all over the community, from the Big 5 publishing houses to self-published works. I’ve talked at universities from Saint Andrews and Pepperdine to Princeton, University of Chicago, etc. And that’s been my role, as largely at the nexus point of fandom and academia.

So, when Hollywood decided that they were going to make a game show about Harry Potter, I was one of the first people that they called, because they were looking for contestants. In my Gilderoy moment, I imagined they might be wanting me to be a contestant, but, they gave a quick little test and I demonstrated, once again, that my contributions to Harry Potter scholarship are not my mastery of detail inside the books, and certainly not in the movies. Which, frankly, I’ve always despised as maladaptations.

But, they still continued the conversation with me for several weeks, because they wanted to pick my brain about people that they should invite. I asked their permission to post about the show and about the possibility of contestants being taken from the gallery of Hogwartsprofessor.com. I put up a post, and that pretty much ends my part of this conversation, other than to say that I was thrilled to see David, who has been a guest poster, a longtime reader, listener and a friend from Harry Potter conferences all over the United States. Especially when he lived in Philadelphia, and I was living just north of Philadelphia.

It was thrilling to see David work his way through all those interviews to get to the contestant stage, and then to do so well last night. I know he’s a very serious reader, and that his movie acumen is kind of an add-on, but it was still wonderful to see one of our own up there on stage. Congratulations David, it was wonderful to watch last night with you.

David:

Thank you. Thank you.

David’s comment on John’s post announcing the contestant call.

More after the jump!

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Beatrice Groves and Kurt Schreyer – The Mystery of the Ink Black Heart

When The Ink Black Heart was first identified as a possible title for the next Strike novel, it had one big disadvantage compared to ‘The Last Cries of Men’. Try as I might I could find no literary allusion worth it’s name. Beatrice Groves, Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, and author of  Literary Allusion in Harry Potter and Texts & Traditions: Religion in Shakespeare, and Kurt Schreyer, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Missouri, and author of Shakespeare’s Medieval Craft: Remnants of the Mysteries on the London Stage have written a Hogwarts Professor Guest Post that not only offers a solution to this mystery, but potentially offers peak at a the story scaffold via Shakespearian epigraphs. After the break, read their elegant solution to the mystery of The Ink Black Heart.

[Read more…]

Tournament of Houses Wins House Cup for Ratings; Twitter Declares Hogpro’s David of Hufflepuff the MVP.

Word on the street is that Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Tournament of Houses snatched the Golden Snitch among television ratings, with over 3 million viewers, making it the top cable news unscripted show of the year.

If you watched the opening match of Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff, you know that the Badgers beat the Lions, and that Hogwartsprofessor.com’s own contestant recruit, David Martin, was the star player and an audience favorite. If you want some objective evidence in support of this view, I looked at a sample of the 10 top tweets that turned up with the hashtag, #tournamentofhouses. Three mentioned David by name. Only two mentioned the distinguished host, Dame Helen Mirren.  I think that is called, “star power.”

A few of the choice Tweets about David:

@TBSNetwork:  THE HERO NO ONE SAW COMING… BUT THE HERO WE NEEDED.

@sylvangreeneyes:  As soon as I glimpsed him in the commercial, I knew Hufflepuff was a lock. David is an amazing teacher and incredibly kind person. If you have a chance to hear him present at a con, don’t hesitate. True embodiment of badger values.

@jennifer_mcgee: David was a badger beast! Happy to be a fellow #Hufflepuff with him!

@Emmy415: David would have defeated Voldemort.

@TielaKegs: The Houses are now: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and DAVID

@PuffCastPod: Congrats to the Hufflepuffs for winning round 1 of the #tournamentofhouses which means we are getting either first or second place overall! All participants did amazing and shoutout to David for really being the team anchor we don’t know we needed!

@claunight: I want David to be happy but i’m a #Gryffindor, help.

@jertheotterbear:  David is the most Hufflepuffiest Hufflepuff of all Hufflepuffs.

@jessyymessii: David on #teamhufflepuff on the #TournamentOfHouses is everything I want to be when I’m a 77 year old Hufflepuff.

@JimtheLibrarian:  Watching #TournamentOfHouses and my jaw dropped when David snagged that Roman numeral question. WELL DONE.

A few other trends I saw among the Twitter commentators, and my response to them, based on what I saw of the show as an audience member:

  • Some folks thought the questions were too easy, and thought seeing the players “discuss” issues like what Lupin’s Marauder nickname was a bit contrivedMy answer: The show was trying to find a balance of appeal to both the die-hard fans from their contestant pool, and the more casual viewer. Judging from the ratings, they succeeded. Teams were told to discuss answers with each other, even if they were obvious.
  • Some complained that it was too movie-centric, and wanted more book-specific trivia. My answer: This was a Warner Brothers production, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first film. Its purpose is to continue to promote the movies, and related properties like the theme parks. They have no vested interest in future book sales.
  • You expected them to recognize the Grangers’ couch? My answer: Well, that had to come up with something that would stump both teams. I think “Granger couch” could become slang for an impossible trivia question, just like “Flint” is now defined as a book continuity error.
  • A Cursed Child question?  That isn’t cannon!  My answer: They told potential contestants, even in the early stages, that all things Potter were fair game, including Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts and other Pottermore/Wizarding World material.

Pending Warner Brothers approval, we hope to have more inside scoop on the life of a show contestant from David posted here soon, along with some information on his soon-to-be-released book of Potter essays. In the meantime, some of us will raise a flask of Felix Felicis, and hope that the high ratings will mean a chance to appear in Season 2.

Tune in tomorrow night for episode 2, Ravenclaw versus Slytherin, and, if you see a flash of grey hair in the Ravenclaw audience, that just might be me!

Harry Potter Tournament of Houses: The Gamemakers’ Perspective.

I was happy to see this interview from the Hollywood Reporter today. First, it has some great information, including that the show had more applicants than any other, which makes me feel better both about making it as far in the process as I did, and about not making the final cut.

Second, it’s the first publicity photo I have seen with our Hogwarts Professor recruitee!  Two thumbs up for David Martin! Tune in to see him tomorrow night at 8 EST! But while you are waiting, check out a few of his guest posts here, here and here!  It is obvious why his knowledge of Potter-dom caught Hollywood’s attention.