The ‘Why’ and ‘How to’ of Pillar Posts

Pillar Posts’ are round-ups and explanations of key ideas and texts that have been and continue to be discussed at HogwartsProfessor. With more than two thousand posts in our archives spread out over twelve years of blogging, we need an easily accessible file where serious readers can find — without hours of hunting — the articles they want to read on subjects they are researching. These Pillar Posts have a home on the left sidebar of the HogwartsProfessor homepage and I’ll update them regularly. There are eight main categories with many sub-categories beneath each subject heading.

Why bother with this?

One of the things I dislike about the Kindle Reader is I don’t know how to organize the novels, plays, and works of non-fiction on the device so I don’t have to scroll through every eBook I ‘own’ to find the one I want. No doubt there is a way to catalog or sort the books into virtual shelves or folders but I don’t know it (and cannot find an illustration of how to do it easily, say, via a John-proof YouTube video). I rarely use the Kindle, consequently, even when I travel and it would be a great convenience.

A WordPress weblog like HogwartsProfessor presents something of a similar challenge. It is a miraculous means of communicating thoughts to a large audience at a cost of close to nothing. But. Once a site has more than a few posts on it, even with a search device readily available to foster hunts for specific topics, it is no small thing for even the most serious reader to find all the relevant posts in a site’s archives, not to mention being able to tell which are the most important, except by sorting and reading for hours.

Which just doesn’t happen. The average first time guest at this site is here only for seconds. Requiring attention for hours for that reader to find the relevant posts he or she wants to find and read means quite simply that they will not be found and may as well, frankly, not have been written and posted. There are nigh on 2,000 posts on HogwartsProfessor. Without an easily accessed file system on the home page, a system cued to essential subjects, only 1 in 10,000 visitors will be able to find the posts they want for academic research into what has already been published or for personal benefit.

Last week I began the process of sorting and filing HogwartsProfessor articles into what Yaro Starak calls ‘Pillar Posts’ with a collection of urls to the things I and other Potter Pundits have written about literary alchemy in the ten years we’ve been online. What spurred me to this was a kind note from a Potter Pundit.

I was invited out of the blue last week, as something of an afterthought it seems, by the editor of a book soon to be published on the subject of the literary alchemy in Harry Potter to make a contribution of some kind. It turns out the well-meaning editor had not read anything I’d written on the subject other than the chapters in Unlocking Harry Potter, written and published in late 2006, early 2007 before Deathly Hallows was in hand.

This struck me as bizarre, frankly. I’ve written several books with chapters on literary alchemy since 2007, most notably Deathly Hallows Lectures, How Harry Cast His SpellHarry Potter’s Bookshelfand Spotlight: The Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga (don’t sniff at that last, please, especially if you’re serious about hermetic writing in popular culture). Not to mention all I have written here on the subject in addition to the important alchemical Guest Posts we’ve published. 

This seemingly inexplicable ignorance on the part of a very smart person reminded me that I had been advised two years ago to create ‘Pillar Posts’ for the sidebar of HogwartsProfessor. The purpose of these posts on a weblog is to create easy access in one spot to the material on a specific topic of special interest that is otherwise just spread throughout the archives of a long-lived site in no particular order. If I am obliged to note, Gilderoy mask in place, that the editor of the upcoming book on alchemy and the Hogwarts Saga is at fault in not doing such work herself, I must take some part of the blame because I have too long neglected the duties of HogwartsProfessor weblog archivist.

I hope eventually to write a proper ‘Pillar Post’ for literary alchemy or at least an annotated version of the sorted link list that is there now. I will be working in 2019, though, to put together similar Round-Ups for Ring Composition, Cormoran Strike, the Fantastic Beasts screenplays, Hunger Games, and other books we have discussed here at some length. Please let me know if there is a subject for which you would appreciate a one-click access to a cataloge of HogwartsProfessor posts made about it through the years and I will do my best to oblige you.

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts, corrections and questions by clicking on ‘Leave a Comment’ up by the post header.


  1. Dear mr. Granger,
    I’m waiting and waiting for the links to work (for instance “Keys for Interpretation” which I’m most interested in).
    You write:
    “With more than two thousand posts in our archives spread out over twelve years of blogging, we need an easily accessible file where serious readers can find — without hours of hunting — the articles they want to read on subjects they are researching.”
    This is exactly what I want for the analyses of the Harry Potter books! But I’m just coming to mostly empty pages when I try to follow these links. Am I doing it wrong?

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