CFP: James Madison University, VA; October 11-13, 2012 Emerging From the Pensieve: A Decade of Potter Scholarship

I spoke at the James Madison University Harry Potter conference and it was an unadulterated pleasure! If you haven’t been, you should go this year; if you have been, you’re already itching to register; and, if you have a Hogwarts talk for serious readers you’ve been waiting for the perfect place to pitch it (not being a summer fandom gathering type?), then read the details below and submit your proposal for the JMU decision makers to ponder. See you there, DV!

Emerging From the Pensieve: A Decade of Harry Potter Scholarship

James Madison University, VA; October 11-13, 2012

I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.

-Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore’s pensieve is a place of examination and reflection created from his thoughts and memories.  Revisiting these memories reveals patterns and details that no other method would uncover and allows him to interact with, explore, and share his thoughts.

Over the past decade, readers from around the world have immersed themselves in a shared pensieve: the Harry Potter franchise.  They have explored the world of Harry Potter and shared the results of their inquiries and interpretations with each other.  Technology has given them the opportunity to construct a pensieve without boundaries.  Curiosity and an interdisciplinary spirit, made possible by enterprising scholars, have continually provided the material to add to the pensive.

Like the pensieve this symposium is an opportunity to reflect on the shared world that Harry Potter has created.  Last year’s theme, “Replacing Wands with Quills”, gathered scholars from many backgrounds to present their own unique research. This year, we seek to revisit past contributions to the pensieve and invite new ones, so that we can dive into and then emerge from our pensieve to share new insight.

We welcome programming on the following topic areas and beyond:

  • Revisiting past work by HP scholars, giving old ideas new life, or building on prior research.
  • Crossing cultural, disciplinary, and temporal boundaries.
  • Looking at the development and impact of HP scholarship over the past decade.
  • Investigating the impact of using HP in classrooms on pedagogical theory and practice across the disciplines.
  • Understanding how technology has developed and shaped the unique HP community.
  • Examining how the HP community—both academic and non-academic—expresses and shares information.
  • Exploring HP’s continued cultural importance.
  • Studying HP’s expansion across media.

Proposals for presentations should be approximately 200 words long.  The deadline for proposal submission is 30 June, 2012.  Proposals should be submitted to:

Elisabeth C. Gumnior, Conference Director

Presenters will be notified by July 15.


  1. The paper that I really want to write this year totally fits the first bullet. What are the chances of them accepting work from a 23-year-old with a B.A. in Writing/Lit who can pass for looking 16 on a good day? (The paper I want to write and have been researching is about how JKR uses alchemical satire, and alchemy, reversed, to take VDM from soul-type-thing in Book 1 to his leaden body in Book 4.)

  2. Louise M. Freeman says


    There were scholars ranging from 18 year old undergraduates to PhDs with decades of teaching experience there last year. You absolutely should submit your paper.

  3. Rochelle says

    I’d have to pay my own airfare from Oregon, wouldn’t I. Oh well. This would SO be worth it.

  4. Just to let folks know, another CFP has come out for a Harry Potter panel at the Midwest Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association (but almost the same dates as the JMU) – just in case there are any readers who might be interested I wanted to share the link (even though my own proposal will be to the JMU conference!)

    PS Rochelle – I know the airfare might not be cheap, but I have to reiterate that not only was there a broad range of folks, it was an awful lot of fun as well – the fact that I had heard this was going to happen again is one of the reasons I didn’t attempt to go to the more fan focused convention in FL – not that fun always wins out over budget concerns, but 🙂

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