Infinitus Draws Near!

This weekend, John and I are both participating in Infinitus in Orlando, FL, being put on by the lovely HPEF folks. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in The Witching Hour in Salem five years ago, and I know John has enjoyed the HPEF events in which he has participated, too. If you are going to be at Infinitus, come and say hi! Look for the dapper gent in the bow tie or the short and very pale mountain lady.

Here is the official website , so you can see what’s going on, or if you can’t make it, what you’ll be missing! As you can see, there will be a little bit of everything, and we’ll have a hard time deciding whose presentations to see!

Here’s a little sneak preview of the presentations we’ll be giving.

John will be presenting Friday at  10:30 am on The Seven Literary Keys to Unlocking Harry Potter: The Future of the Hogwarts Saga ‘Shared Text’ in Classrooms–

Harry Potter is the ‘Shared Text’ of the young 21st Century and it has created not only a common story vocabulary for readers everywhere but also an imaginative experience we all have been through individually and together. John Granger, who has lectured on Harry Potter as literature at schools like Yale, Princeton, and Chicago, explains how Harry’s adventures with Ron and Hermione provide the tools serious readers need to open up our understanding of English literature and, more important, of human life itself. With his intellectually challenging but always fun approach, Granger discusses literary alchemy, story setting, postmodern themes, the hero’s journey, allegorical satire, Christian symbolism, and narrative misdirection to reveal the mechanics of Ms. Rowling’s literary magic, why her themes and symbols resonate within us, and why knowing these details are so useful in interpreting other books and how we understand ourselves and our world. Ever wonder, really wonder, why you love these books the way you do? Come compare your conclusions to what the “Hogwarts Professor” thinks and learn why he believes the Hogwarts Saga will be used in schools for generations.

Also on Friday, at 2:30 pm, John will present on The Historical Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Why Witches and Wizards Went Underground After the English Civil War

Ms. Rowling famously said to Larry King that she imagined her Harry Potter books might become “cult” hits because their meaning was not right at the surface. What meaning did she expect clever UK readers to pick up? John Granger, whom TIME magazine book critic Lev Grossman dubbed “the Dean of Harry Potter Scholars,” explains the historical and theological backdrop of the defining moment in Wizard-Muggle relations the author assumed you would know. The event is the 1692 summit meeting of the International Confederation of Wizards, the seven week gathering that passed the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy which caused the Wizarding community to disappear from the world of Muggles. Looking at the historical non-conformist Christian sects known as the Seekers and Muggletonians as  well as at the wizards Agrippa, Flamel, and Everard mentioned in Potter Canon, Granger reveals that Ms. Rowling’s Magical folk are the real world Christian magi and occultists whose sects were suppressed at the end of the 17th century.

Granger’s rollicking review of English history and Rowling’s re-write of the Restoration to celebrate the non-conformists of the Radical Reformation as her Witches and Wizards will let you in on why she uses literary alchemy as the scaffolding of Harry’s hero journey, why her Christian symbolism is so subtle, and what Dumbledore meant in his farewell to Harry at King’s Cross. Prepare to have your thinking about Harry Potter turned upside down!

On Saturday at 5 pm, Elizabeth will present “Horcruxes in Faerie Land: Edmund Spenser’s Influence on Voldemort’s Efforts to Elude Death”–

Edmund Spenser never finished his epic twelve-book allegorical poem The Faerie Queene, featuring the adventures of knights who each represented a Christian virtue. Yet, the six complete books and segments known as the “mutabilitie cantos” have left a profound impact on Western Literature, far beyond Spenser’s original intent to compliment Queen Elizabeth I. The fantasy epic as we know it owes much to Spenser, his questing knights, dazzling ladies, and fantastic creatures. Though the language of The Faerie Queene  is a barrier few modern readers care to scale in order to visit Faerie Land, Spenser’s echoes can be seen in every subsequent tale of virtuous heroes, terrifying monsters, and heroic quests.

As heroic fantasy epic, J.K. Rowling’s seven-book telling of the trials, growth, and ultimate victory of Harry Potter draws upon the great traditions of fantasy, including Spenser. His bizarre monsters, dark forests, evil sorcerers, and dangerous journeys all find their way into Harry’s world.  Spenser’s influence in settings, themes, and character may be felt in any fantastic story as they are at Hogwarts, yet in one aspect of Harry’s adventures, Spenser’s echoes can be seen quite profoundly. Though Rowling invented both the word and the specific definition of Horcrux, Voldemort’s soul-fragments and the containers that hold them, meant as insurance against his mortality, connect back to the trials of Spenser’s Elfin Knights and the magical objects and snares they encounter on their journeys to fulfill their allegorical destinies. From the Redcrosse Knight’s struggles against a vision nearly identical to that faced by Ron Weasley in his attempt to crush the locket Horcrux to a magical ring that brings back the dead, the Horcruxes frequently reflect Spensarian echoes. In using similar, and often identical imagery, Spenser and Rowling both remind us, as Dumbledore does, that we should realize there are much worse things than dying.

Also, the Potter Pundits, John Granger, Travis Prinzi, and James Thomas will be live on stage at 1:30 on Saturday!

It will be a jam-packed time of wonderful conversation, thought, and fun, and we look forward to sharing our impressions and to hearing yours!


  1. Arabella Figg says

    I’m sure it’s going to be both wonderful and rewarding to hear these presentations, and that you’ll enthrall and illuminate your audiences. I look forward to hearing about it all soon. Have fun! (We hope to get to a big HP conference someday.)

  2. revgeorge says

    I spent all night dreaming about how I had managed to make it to Infinitus only to wake up this morning & realize I still wasn’t going. If only the Powerball would cooperate with me! 🙁

  3. Nicholas says

    Wait a minute, *seven* keys, John? I finally learned the five.

    So are we going to have to buy another book?

  4. I attended the Seven Literary Keys, the Historical Key, and the Potter Pundits presentations, which were all very interesting. Great work John!

    I would have liked to see Elizabeth’s presentation, but was giving one myself at the same time. Is it published anywhere? I’d like to read it.

  5. Elizabeth says

    Thanks, Denise! Were’t the pundits great!?
    I really hated that we were scheduled at the same time! I even asked if I could switch around, but alas. The article will be included in the second volume of Hog’s Head Conversations, coming soon, along with Dr. Joel Hunter’s super paper on technology, if you missed that one.
    Can I find your presentation in print? Did they get you recorded? I heard that everything was recorded, so there is hope for those of us who had trouble choosing between fantastic programs!

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