John in Western Pennsylvania this Weekend!

“Join us, along with a Harry Potter expert and author, John Granger for the following two-part event at St. Stephen’s Church, 220 Eighth Avenue, McKeesport, Pennsylvania:

*Saturday, November 22, “Learning Literature from Harry Potter,” Coffee at 6:30PM, Talk at 7:00PM —

*Sunday, November 23, “Looking for God in Harry Potter,” Lunch at 12:00Noon, Talk at 12:30PM —

Childcare will be provided for both days.”

See you there!


  1. And I finally get to say it: I really will see you there! At least on Saturday evening. Very excited, John, about the opportunity to meet you and hear you speak at last. So glad you’re making it to our part of the state!

  2. What a fun weekend! Jerry and Susan Bowyer pulled out all the stops to make this three talk spin through Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania a real blast for me. The food, lodgings, and company were uniformly first class and I learned more about economics (mark to market regulation, especially, and its role in the current meltdown) from Jerry and about gracious hospitality from Susan’s example than my audiences learned about anything from my talks. Thank you, Bowyers! A pleasure beyond words to meet a big, loving, intelligent, literate family of faith (with the two greatest dogs, Colonel, a beagle, and Major, a black lab, I can remember spending time with).

    I also got to meet Beth, a HogPro All Pro from years back, and her husband, who traveled more than an hour to hear my talk Saturday night. My last few talks have included face to face conversations with the Bowyers, Inked, Beth, Toni Gras, and a HogPro lurker in Iowa (who will go unnamed until she signs in and speaks up!), all of whom I have “known” for as many as six years but never met in person. I hope they weren’t disappointed by the house-elf in bow-tie they finally saw; meeting readers and friends conversations with whom are the genesis and often the substance of what I write is my favorite part of any speaking gig. I hope Beth will share her thoughts and experience here so those of you who meet me can avoid the disappointment inevitable to internet fostered expectations (meeting “short, ugly, and boring” when you expect something more after a long drive must be a downer; I’d hate for RevGeorge and RedRocker to have that experience…).

    Thank you again to the Bowyers for the invitation to speak in Pennsylvania’s wild west. Thanks, too, to Fr. Jay at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in McKeesport for his kindness and conversation before and after my talks there, to Susi Turner at PA Cyber Schools for our lunchtime conversation, to Daniel LeRoy and Steve Catanzarite for organizing the assembly at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center Charter School — an incredible combination of wow students, facility, and faculty — and to the audiences for my talks, all of whom were very generous with their questions, compliments, and applause. I look forward to my next trip to Midland, McKeesport, and Pittsburgh!

  3. John wrote, “I hope Beth will share her thoughts and experience here so those of you who meet me can avoid the disappointment inevitable to internet fostered expectations (meeting “short, ugly, and boring” when you expect something more after a long drive must be a downer; I’d hate for RevGeorge and RedRocker to have that experience…).”

    Well, I can tell you that if we ever meet, John, you’re not going to be wowed by my appearance! Short & Boring are my middle names. 🙂

  4. Not working on getting you to a school out here, John, but I’m working on getting my wife to let me go to Azkatraz. I assume you’ll be there?

    I might see about opportunities for an institute in my church body’s Wyoming district. We have one in January for both laity & clergy. I think some of your lectures might fit in well in the Christ & Culture genre. Will have to look into that more.

  5. Beth, checking in as requested with my firsthand account of a wonderful experience! 🙂 I cannot tell you how delightful it was to finally meet you at last, John, after so many years of being enriched by your written words. And I assure you there was no disappointment involved in any way. (And note to everyone else: the only adjective John used that actually applies to himself is “short” — but hey, I’m shorter! By a lot!)

    I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but if any of you ever gets a chance to hear John speak in person, grab the opportunity! If you’ve been enriched and inspired by what he’s written in blog posts, emails and books, you’ll love the experience of sitting back and hearing such insights delivered in person, accompanied by his wonderful warmth and humor. Those characteristics come across on the page, certainly, but they come through in spades when you actually get to sit in on one of his lectures.

    I’m such a geek that I took all of his books with me (thank you, John, for graciously signing them!) and I even took a little notebook along. I abandoned the note-taking idea almost immediately, realizing that I’d rather just sit back and soak it all in. We were at his Saturday night lecture on “Learning Literature Through Harry Potter” and it was a delight for me to be able to recognize, just a couple of minutes into his introduction, that he was going to focus in on the “five keys.” It’s a lot of fun to be able to anticipate where a speaker is going (my little inner bookworm was jumping up and down in glee, thinking “oh, now he’s going to talk about Austen and narrative misdirection!” etc.) and yet despite having real familiarity with the material, there were still some great a-ha moments when he helped provide new insight into things. It was also fun seeing the different members of the audience connect — about 30 folks had braved a dark and bitterly cold night to come hear him, and they must have ranged in age from 8 to about 70. I know I would have been daunted by the task of delivering a lecture that would somehow “work” on all those different levels at once, but John just dove in with great enthusiasm and he never seemed to lose anybody.

    My husband, by the way, thoroughly enjoyed himself. He’s an HP fan almost by default because of me. As someone who works a lot of hours and who doesn’t have nearly as much time for reading as he’d like, he’s actually never read the books on his own, but I’ve read them all to him. He always has great insights into the stories (he’s a dramatist and a good storyteller himself) and I’ve read him snippets of John’s books through the years as well. Having heard this lecture, he is now really intrigued to read more of the Deathly Hallows Lectures for himself! We both really enjoyed our time afterwards talking with John — thank you again, John, for spending so much time with us. I hadn’t realized you were also speaking at Lincoln Park — some of the youth in our church attend there.

    I’ve rambled on here, but I hope this gives at least a little glimpse of how much fun I had attending a class taught by the Hogwarts Professor.

  6. Thank you, Beth. I’m hoping RevGeorge and RedRocker are working now to get me a date at a school in Nebraska or Montreal (?) so I can meet them, too.

    Here is a review from another friend, this one in Chicago. Potter punditry doesn’t pay the bills but the wonderful, even inspiring people you meet…

  7. “John Granger knows the Harry Potter canon backwards and forwards, and he is able to communicate his insights about it in an engaging and thought-provoking manner. What he has to say about the importance of shared culture and the idea of transcendence in art, however, is every bit as significant as his arcane Rowlingian knowledge — and perhaps even more welcome.”

    –Dan LeRoy
    Director of Literary Arts, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School

    “john granger’s talk on the phenomenon that is harry potter cast a spell on our students every bit as powerful as any incantation taught at hogwarts. i was amazed by his ability to have 200 high school students hanging on his every word late on a friday afternnon. granger’s magic emanates from his encyclopedic knowledge of the harry potter books and the english literary tradition from which they spring, and from his obvious love and respect for those books and that tradition. it is also clear that he loves and respects young minds. granger is up to something very important, needed, and good.”

    -stephen catanzarite
    managing director
    lincoln park performing arts center

  8. Susan Bowyer says

    John, it was just wonderful having you here!

    I had heard every minute of every radio interview John has done with my husband Jerry over the years, and this past weekend had the privilege to hear John’s three talks plus an informal presentation. Nonetheless I never, ever felt like I was going over the same ground. No, let me modify that: a few times we went over the same ground but looked more closely and saw things I had overlooked before!

    Let me second what Beth said about captivating even his young audience. Half our youth group was there and some kids as young as 7, too, and they listened attentively to every word. And I was astonished to see the Lincoln Park kids, in a 200+ standing-room only crowd, listen perfectly quietly for an entire hour. Except they giggled quite a bit during the discussion of Peter Pettigrew’s name. 🙂 (Kids!)

    Beth, it was great meeting you and knowing we have such a Potter and Granger fan so close to home. I hope we’ll meet again.

    John, we’ll keep the spaghetti squash warm and the dog noses cold for you. Come on out any time!

  9. RevGeorge wrote:

    Not working on getting you to a school out here, John, but I’m working on getting my wife to let me go to Azkatraz. I assume you’ll be there?

    I might see about opportunities for an institute in my church body’s Wyoming district. We have one in January for both laity & clergy. I think some of your lectures might fit in well in the Christ & Culture genre. Will have to look into that more.

    Please, George, contact Cynthia Damaskos, my speaking agent at OSB (click the OSB button on the right!) for the conference date. She is great at setting these things up, believe me.

    And about Azkatraz 2009, I sent in my lecture proposal today. Travis Prinzi, James Thomas, and Robert Trexler, among others are already committed so if I come we can have our own conference within a conference or at least a meal or two together. If you and other HogPro AllPros want me to be there, please write the conference sponsors (HPEF) at or to let your preferences be known!

    If you’re curious, I proposed one lecture on the Eyeballs (surprise!) and another on Snape’s literary antecedents (Carton, Dracula, Dante, Heathcliff, others). Here’s hoping the decision makers think that is interesting; it isn’t in keeping with the “programming focus” (social justice, tolerance, etc.) so I’m anything but a sure thing. Write them today!

  10. Sydney Carton, Dante and Heathcliff, I can see. But Dracula as Snape’s literary antecedent?


    Can you explain without giving away your major speaking points?

  11. Actually, Rocker, I just threw that in there to see if anyone was paying attention…

    No, seriously, Stoker’s Dracula and the vampire character in it is a big piece of Rowling’s artistry. Snape and Hogwarts Castle are the links to Gothic Romance, one of the ten genres she “rowls” into her stories (or, better, spins her stories from).

    For that, you’ll have to come to San Francisco or buy the next Granger book (coming out in July, God allowing).

    Yes, they dumped Harry Meets Hamlet and Scrooge as the title, but the new one is better anyway.

  12. Ah, Nosferatu! Great movie. Terrificly scary, even for black & white & silent. It’s a good thing that somebody saved a copy somewhere that survived Mrs. Stoker’s legal purge of the film. Gotta love copyright law, even way back then.

    Anyway, Dracula certainly isn’t an antihero, sort of flawed man with a heart of gold or redeeming qualities inside. He’s, portrayed in the book, as a ruthless, soulless, bloodsucking fiend. It’s only the Hollywoodized versions that have taken on some of these antihero romantic qualities, as Red Rocker notes.

  13. Your comment prompted me to look up Northanger Abbey and from there to the source of all Gothic novels, Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho A quick perusal of plot and characters via Wikpedia prompts me to suggest: drop Dracula and take on Montoni, who is described as the “prototypical Gothic villain”.

    Because from what I recall of Dracula (and mind, I was young and impressionable when I first read the book), he is a very distasteful kind of chap, and not at all romantic, not even in a dark and brooding sort of way. Less Gary Oldmanesque and more Nosferatu.

  14. Agreed on the Nosferatu link! But Carton and Dante are pretty heavy counter balances.

  15. Okay, I’ll take it on faith that you know what your doing, John, seeing as you’ve been so spot on about other things. 🙂

  16. Thanks, revgeorge, for explaining what I was trying to get at. If we were looking at Potter analogies, Dracula’s closest match would be Fenrir Greyback. He’s not an anti-hero because he has no redeeming qualities. He’s actually more monster than man.

  17. Nosferatu, mirabile dictu, is in the public domain and can be watched online (though they replace the original film’s character names with Stoker’s names from the book). For a fun night, watch it and then Shadow of the Vampire. Too bad we’re past Halloween.

    And neither of you guys want to say anything about my new book? No questions?


  18. I don’t want to say anything about the new book because you’re taunting us with it! You know we can’t get it till next summer when we want it NOW! It’s even worse than WB’s putting off of the HBP movie. Although I see Amazon is already allowing pre-orders for it.


  19. I guess I should wait patiently for your new book, seeing as I’m still delving my way through DH Lectures. Mainly because it’s so deep & fascinating & I don’t have the time I’d like to just sit & read it & then reread it like I should. And soon Travis’ book & Thomas’ book will be upon me, too.

  20. What you guys are missing are the postmodern elements in Rowling’s treatment of the Dracula vampire figure in her depiction of him via Harry’s view. It’s a twist on the Jungian vampire idea a la ‘Wicked,’ the re-telling of the Wizard of Oz.

    No, I’m not saying Snape is Dracula straight-up, as he is in several ways a snap-shot of Carton and Dante (I think especially of the “years later” moment at King’s Cross with the child named for the sacrificial hero echoing Carton’s vision from the guillotine platform and Dante’s sacramental vision in Beatrice’s green eyes). Snape is Dracula re-imagined as an aspect of Harry’s projected fears and a misunderstood man who remains a sadist.

    Really, come to the lecture in SF, assuming they ask me to give it.

  21. “Taunting”? Oh, c’mon. I just mentioned it.

    As I haven’t finished writing it yet, maybe I shouldn’t have done even that.

    John, back to the project

  22. John,

    Your capacity to spin new theories and clothe them in intricate yet substantive embroidery of fact, references, and conjecture far exceeds my capacity to read and absorb.

    In other words, pearls before swine, professor (well, one swinish dilettante, anyways – I can’t speak for revgeorge)

    But I did follow the link, and I love the title. But you’ll have to do a major sales job to link Dracula to Snape in an emotionally resonating way. Snape is a pretty good Shadow figure, and as such, needs to be re-integrated into Harry’s Self. But Dracula?

    I’ll read the book, and then I guess we’ll talk.

  23. Let’s talk — in San Francisco, I hope, with a table full of All Pros at the Hog’s Head gathering! Should be fun…

  24. John, it was a true pleasure meeting and getting to know you in Chicago last month (house-elf? the thought never crossed my mind – they would never be the literary GIANT you are!) – ok ok – now your head is puffed up twice the size of Dobby’s! I also was truly enthralled to hear about the Orthodox faith and how God has steered you into this vital ministry. Take care and God’s blessings on you and your beautiful and bountiful family! Best to Sarah on her search for colleges — although I loved the University of Chicago and the way it resembled Oxford (and Hogwarts!) in so very many ways!

    Toni Gras

Speak Your Mind