“What’s With The Pop-Up Box, John?” New Video Blog at PotterPundits.com Free Online Classes Start in August

I’ve been talking since January about “big changes” coming to HogwartsProfessor. The pop-up box you’ve seen today offering a free 50 page pdf (70 pages, actually, but it’s magazine formatted) means that at last these long anticipated changes are beginning to roll out.

The document,The Top Twelve J. K. Rowling Story Sources Every Potter Needs to Read (and Re-Read),’ is a valuable, voluble guide to books that helped shape the Hogwarts Saga in light of how they ‘influenced’ the author. More important, the guide discusses how she significantly re-shaped or adapted these story sources to her ends. It’s nothing like a complete survey, of course, but ‘Top Twelve’ is a fun start — and one with some startling choices and revelations even for long time students of Rowling’s artistry and meaning. Please do check it out — and let me know what you think!

The goal in offering it via a downloadable document rather than twelve separate posts here at HogwartsProfessor, beyond the significant convenience to readers of owning them and greater punch of offering them all together, is to begin gathering email addresses for a new project. Later this week — tomorrow? — we’re launching a subscribers only website, PotterPundits.com, where I will be posting weekly videos (‘vlogs’) and offering free online classes.

Which online classroom possibility has been my hope and aim since 2002. That goal is something I’ve only shared with close friends through the years, so let me catch you up on the quest if you’re a little confused or even put-off by the pop-up box.

For fifteen years I’ve tried to answer two questions: “Why do readers love the Harry Potter stories the way we do?” and “What is the most effective way to communicate answers to the first question to the greatest number of people?”

Speaking frankly, I’ve been pretty successful in pushing the international discussion of the first question in unexpected and helpful directions. And I have tried almost every venue — live, published and recorded — to reach all the serious readers interested in the answers scholars and lay literary detectives have teased out of repeated readings of the Hogwarts Saga. Weblogs, podcasts, newspaper articles, television appearances, keynote conference talks, university lectures and classes, and books —

And it’s been a bust, truth be told, even if the ‘rolling credits’ of the last fifteen years have earned me the only slightly ironic title of ‘the Dean of Harry Potter Scholars.’

I have been looking for a truly effective, accessible, and affordable way to deliver an in-depth, coherent, and something approaching comprehensive study of Harry Potter and Rowling’s other work. Everything I’ve tried to date has been frustrating in being relatively scattershot, superficial, and impersonal. ‘Ineffective,’ in a word.

How I can offer the equivalent of a semester’s study of the Hogwarts Saga at a major university, something like Cornell and Colorado Colleges’ ‘Block Plan,’ that anyone, anywhere, can access and afford has been my semi-private quest since my first public offerings at Barnes and Noble University in 2002. I think at last I’ve put together the marriage of software, recording tools, and exciting new material that means at last that this intensive study will soon be possible.

‘Soon’ as in ‘beginning next month.’

To celebrate this sea-change, to begin gathering subscribers for the free PotterPundits video postings, and to reward those friends and readers who have been working with me for so long towards a satisfying answer to the “Whence Potter Mania?” mystery, consequently, I am giving away the equivalent of a short book reflecting some of the discoveries I’ve made this past year in the review of critical literature necessary for my PhD thesis. The ‘Top Twelve’ guide is free for the taking and you can unsubscribe anytime you like from my emails that will bring  to your inbox links to the PotterPundits video posts and online class offerings.

I hope of course you will join me next month for the first class there, the ‘Potter Pundits Summer School,’ three challenging lectures I’ll be giving with a webinar featuring a special guest and a live Q&A session on the talks. To say I am “excited” about this would be a comic understatement. It promises to be a mind-bending set of talks, the cutting-edge of Potter studies, and, the real hope, ‘Summer School’ is possibly the advent of a much better way to study Rowling’s work, one much more satisfying for both teachers and students.

Thanks in advance for joining me on this adventure to take Potter Studies a quantum leap upwards in accessibility, affordability, and effectiveness. And for sharing your thoughts on ‘Top Twelve Rowling Story Sources’ and questions about PotterPundits in the comment boxes below!


  1. Brian Basore says

    Okay, John. Onward and upward, unless frustration is enough by itself. (It isn’t. It isn’t even a good way to run in place, so to speak.) Providing uploads from Dropbox works, that much I know.

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Tangentially (and yet…), Julia Duin has an interesting post on (media) attention to Ter Kuile and Zoltan: perhaps a comment or two there would be apt?:


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