Hogwarts Professor at Convention Alley 2008

There are, believe it or not, five Harry Potter fan conferences this year, six if you include the University of Regina Humanities Research Institute one-day show that happened last week. Convention Alley 2008 (HPfGU) starts the season in Ottawa, Canada, 19-22 June, Portus 2008 (HPEF) will be in Dallas, 10-13 July, Accio 2008 in Oxford, UK, 25-27 July, Terminus 2008 (Narrate) in Chicago 7-11 August, and an as-yet-unnamed conference (Muffliato 2008?) closes out the year at Northern Illinois University 14-16 November. I couldn’t confirm dates or place for the Australian conference, Snidget 2008.

Each of these gatherings has its virtues and failings according to any individual’s tastes; only one will have the virtue (or failing) of featuring the Hogwarts Professor as a Featured Speaker.

I couldn’t bring myself to July dates in Dallas or August in Chicago; God forbid the AC fails during either of those conferences. I have been a Featured Speaker at three HPEF conventions (Nimbus, Lumos, Prophecy) and they are the Big Show in the Big Tent. I haven’t been to a Harry Potter conference sponsored by Narrate Conferences (Phoenix), though the offerings for Terminus suggest they are aiming to supplant HPEF as the Ringling Brothers of fandom. Can you say “30 Wizard Rock bands”? Scary.

Convention Alley 2008, sponsored by ‘Harry Potter for Grown-Ups,’ and Accio 2008, a charity event for Literary Trust at Magdalen College, will be much smaller affairs. I suspect there won’t be any Wizard Rock bands, younger people have to be accompanied by adults (y’know, “Grown-Ups“), and the sponsors say their settings mean no more than 150 people can attend. I think the Leaky and MuggleNet staffs at Terminus and Portus, in contrast, will be well over 150 people.

I have been invited to be a Featured Speaker at Convention Alley next month and will be giving one or two talks there. Zossima Press hopes to launch my first book of the summer, The Deathly Hallows Lectures, there as well (more on that in another post). I hope to see you and talk with you there.

I’m delighted about going to this conference for several reasons.

*Ottawa is convenient; I can drive there as fast as I can fly from the Lehigh Valley, believe it or not (and I can stop in Rochester to see Travis Prinzi and family on the way back, something United Airlines told me they wouldn’t do). Magdalen College at Oxford would be great but I gmapped the drive and, because of the 3477 miles and the small pond to be traversed, the site refused even to guess the best route for me and my Toyota.

*Ottawa in June is not Dallas in July, Chicago in August, or Northern Illinois in November. ‘Nuff said.

*Convention Alley is sponsored by ‘Harry Potter for Grown-Ups,’ that is, by Serious Readers for other Serious Readers.

*Convention Alley is held at the University of Ottawa rather than a big hotel; the architectural message, at least, is that people are coming to think, not for room service and lobby lounging.

*Convention Alley is small, as in “intimate.” I’ll actually have the chance to talk with many of if not most of the people who come, and discuss the talks being given with them. As much as I have enjoyed talking to crowds of hundreds of people, the conversations afterwards are almost necessarily hurried and pressed because of people waiting in line or scurrying to the next talk.

2009 already has at least two conferences in the works; LeakyCon 2009 will be in Boston 21-24 May next year and HPEF’s annual bash will be in San Jose, CA 23-26 July (‘Level Two’). They have even scheduled a return to Orlando in 2010 (‘Infinitus’) to celebrate the opening of the Harry Potter Theme Park that is scheduled for November, 2009. No doubt these will be exciting, three ring events and good opportunities to meet or catch-up with friends we know from the internet.

I’m delighted, though, this year to be headed to Ottawa for Convention Alley 2008 and for the longer conversations I’ll be having in person with not as many friends. I hope very much to see you there!


  1. Travis Prinzi says

    I can’t believe United Airlines won’t stop at my house. Must be the rising oil costs preventing those extra stops.

  2. Karen_jk says

    Ottawa in the summer is beautiful, though it can be very hot. Glad you are able to come…I will be speaking there as well, and so will logospilgrim. I am sure you would enjoy her new book, which I’ve been able to look at a little bit, though it comes out June 18. It is full of insights.


  3. Gladius Terrae Novae says

    Good decision on missing Dallas. Living in Texas, I personally can sympathize with the pain felt from being in an AC-less building in 100 degree weather with no end in sight. The horror! 🙂

  4. Sound wonderful. Of course, for me, it’s not close enough to drive. But John, you’ve brought up a point that has always puzzled me. Why on earth do they schedule things in the middle of the summer in the hottest places they can find? My daughter and son-in-law and I went to Vegas and it was fun, but really–who wants to be in Vegas in August!

    Meanwhile, I spend my summers in Seattle where the weather is lovely–sunny, not much rain, and the temps are in the mid-70s most days. Oh, well. I suppose it has to do with planning something closer to where you actually live, but really, the mid-west is not some place I want to be in the summer. I remember all too well my last summer in Wichita, Kansas. That was the most miserable weather ever–and Texas is worse. So, I think you’ve made the best choice of places to be. And having a smaller group sounds like fun too.


  5. Tell me again, Sir Reyhan, why you won’t be joining this party? It runs Thursday to Sunday and I learned today they’re selling day passes so it’s not an all or nothing thing. I have no idea what a double-double is, but, if it’s a drink, I’ll buy one-one for you and Travis at dinner.

  6. A double-double is the local term for a coffee with two cream and two sugars. It’s sold at Timmy’s, (aka Tim Horton’s) a coffee chain which is so stereotypically Canadian, they had to set one up in the military base at Kandahar because the boys were in withdrawal.

    Would love to quaff one with you and Travis, except I am going to be in Saskatoon, which is not a place I choose to go to, in June or at any other time. Work calls.

  7. Wow! I wish I could think of a way to incorporate Harry into my academic interests; especially if the Hogwarts Professor and I are neighbors by then!

  8. Arabella Figg says

    Sigh. Why don’t they ever have good stuff like this nearby, say, in Seattle?

    To kitties, nearby includes a food dish…

  9. schmalchemy says

    I have to disagree with the assessment of summers in the Midwest. They are not nearly as brutal as previously indicated. I have lived in Ohio all of my life (in various parts of the state, too). While it can get hot (mid 90s at times), it isn’t that bad for the most part. I now live on the North Coast of Ohio and the summers are great (and rarely does AC go out) because there is generally a nice breeze off Lake Erie. I imagine it will be the same in Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan, even in August. I guess I’ll find out for sure as I will be there in August.

    I hope your conference goes well for you, John. May you have great weather as well.

  10. schmalchemy says

    To answer the question as to why they schedule events in the summer, that’s simple enough. School is out; people tend to travel then (called vacations), and weather is better (ie, no snow). Just a thought…

  11. Palantir says

    I wish they’d decide to hold a convention in the Netherlands…

  12. John, I’ve been watching your site since picking up “Lookng for God in…” back in September. Only just now registered, all excited I was that you’re coming to Ottawa, which is where I live. I would love to meet up for a double-double, or any other beverage you might fancy. (If coffee is determinedly your thing, we have a local chain called Bridgehead which is all fair-trade – the coffee, as my wife says, tastes like justice.)

    I’m a past Potter scholar, if you will – Barb Garner taught a seminar on HP and fantasy lit, which was offered for only the second time ever when I was in my fourth year at Carleton University. (This was in fall 01, just after Book 4 and before Movie 1).

    Anyway, this year I’ve been shaping my Sunday School class lessons around Harry Potter, and your book and living commentary here on the Web has been most useful. I’d love to chat with you more about it and pick your thoughts.

    Get in touch, please, if you will.

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