Harry Potter Inc. Taking a Big Downturn?

In today’s news we find three pointers to the end of Harry Potter’s dominance of the book trade and cultural landscape: a Publisher’s Weekly report on sales of children’s books for fiscal year 2009, Time-Warner’s stock being downgraded in anticipation of the last Potter films from Warner Brothers, and scrape-the-barrel publishing tactics by Bloomsbury to milk the Hogwarts Saga of every dollar. One by one — [Read more…]

Collection of Suzanne Collins Interviews Online

I hope in the coming weeks to comment on each of these two interview sets, interviews with the author of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins, but wanted to share these with those who may not be aware of them and to ask for links to other Suzanne Collins commentary on the books about which author-insights or lines of sight all of us should know.

At Scholastic.com: A series of five talks filmed after the publication of Hunger Games (the link takes you to the first talk and the other four are accessible at that page).

The Border’ Book Club Interviews: A series of seven talks filmed after the publication of Catching Fire (the link takes you to the first talk and the other six are accessible at that page).

If you cannot resist commenting on Ms. Collins’ remarks, please refer to the specific segment of which interview, e.g., “Scholastic, part 3, 1:43,” so we can access what you’re talking about!

(Check out the Borders Book Club interview with Mrs. Meyer about Twilight, too, while you’re on that page!)

EBH: C.S. Lewis College to begin Classes in 2012

In case you haven’t heard yet, the C.S. Lewis Foundation, along with corporate sponsor Hobby Lobby, is opening the C.S. Lewis College on the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. Plans are currently underway for the college to begin classes in Fall 2012 pending accreditation. The vision for the college, according to the official website, is that it will “be a fully accredited Christian institution of Great Books and Visual and Performing Arts.” The college hopes to attract “mere Christians” of various backgrounds to study and advance scholarship on Lewis and his fields of interest.

 I am really looking forward to seeing what the course of study will be like at the C.S. Lewis college. My poor students tolerate all my Lewis references, and one dear creature suggested I make my Milton, Spenser, and the Chronicles of Narnia required reading in ENG 111 (shudder! I had a colleague who tried using The Abolition of Man  in a Freshman Orientation class, with predictably dismal results), but I am intrigued to see what courses and texts the college will use.

  And, in a world where academe is constantly struggling to retain relevance, I wonder what a person will do with a degree from this college, which sounds just delightful, but not terribly practical. (In The Magician’s Nephew, Lewis wrote that witches are “terribly practical”; guilty as charged, I suppose, lead me to the stake. I’ve spent years helping students to enjoy writing but also showing them that it is a practical skill as they study to be nurses or  law enforcement officers.) [Read more…]

Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Books

Two books coming out this summer that we’ll be discussing here — Stephenie Meyer’s The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, the conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy — make EW’s ’18 Books We Can’t Wait to Read this Summer’ list. Forgive me for laughing about two things: [Read more…]

Potter Tales for Fighting Depression? Works for Me

An Australian psychologist thinks reading Harry Potter is a great way to introduce ideas about hope and how to deal with mental illness and has written a book called Harry Potter Power on the subject. Read all about it. Reminds me of the 2001 Associated Press article, ‘Harry Potter and the Shrinks.’

Psychologists as a rule do not believe the soul, usually called “mind,” has specific faculties as did Plato, Aristotle, and the Church Fathers (i.e. Western Civilization up to and including Freud). They have trouble, consequently, with the Eliade-Lewis-and-Ruskin inspired notion that readers respond to stories about these same faculties more profoundly than they do other tales. You’d think, though, that the alchemical symbolism, the synchronicity of cartharsis in reader and story subject, and the remarkable transference involved that engages and to some degree transforms the serious reader would draw psychological study and attention beyond clinical tricks.

I trust if any readers find an article by a psychologist on either of these subjects as it relates to Harry Potter and the profound hold Ms. Rowling’s novels have on readers of all ages around the world that you’ll share it. Please suggest the topic to any graduate students in psychology you know, too. Call it ‘Faculty Psychology, Soul Triptychs, and the Alchemical Magic of Reading: Plato and Dostoevsky to Star Wars and Harry Potter.’