Why Potter Pundits Summer School?

Have you signed up for the Potter Pundits Summer School yet? It’s free for the asking, but you have to sign in at PotterPundits.com  — and it only lasts a week. As of this morning, there are posted video lectures about the two subjects my survey of thousands of Potter-philes revealed were the ones most wanted by serious readers of the Hogwarts Saga, namely, Literary Alchemy and Ring Composition.

With the videos, Summer School students also get transcripts of the talks they can download, an invitation to the live Q&A webinar on Thursday with Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, and bibliographies covering the best academic work (and online posts!) about Ring Composition and Literary Alchemy I’ve run across in my PhD thesis writing. 

So, if you haven’t joined us, why not? It’s all coming down next week and you may miss out.

Maybe you have a few questions.

“What’s the Point, John?”

The point is three-fold. First, for fifteen years I’ve heard complaints about how hard it is to study Harry Potter in any kind of organized way. There’s no interaction with the authors of critical work when you buy a book, academic and fan conferences are an incoherent grab-bag of variable quality ideas, and, like schools, they’re ridiculously expensive in terms of the funds-invested in travel and hotels as well as the take-away reward.

These complaints are justified. We need a way to study the world’s best selling books (and other works by their author) that expands our understanding of them conveniently, affordably, personally, and profoundly.

The Potter Pundits Summer School, in which I am giving away for free several talks I get paid thousands of dollars to give, is my attempt to invent and test a method of sharing a coherent program of Hogwarts study that anyone, anywhere, at anytime, can afford to plug into — and from which that serious reader will take-away a coherent, cohesive introduction to the best in Potter scholarship.


Second, but as important perhaps, when I ask fans at talks and conferences what they most want to know about Harry Potter or from me, I get subject answers like ‘I really want to learn more about narrative slow release and why it works.’ As often as not, though, people tell me that they want to learn how to read, how to recognize when there is more to a text than the surface narrative and the obvious moral or political messaging.

The third point is related to it. I hear the question all the time in conversations with fans in letters and in person, the question I’ve been trying to answer for fifteen years. “What is it about these stories that make us love them more than other stories?” Which brings up in turn the issue, “What is it about story-telling that makes it a defining species trait?” Because whatever Rowling is doing seems to be scratching that itch better than what anyone else has on offer.

The Potter Pundits Summer School is my attempt to use the forum and method I’m creating for online instruction, classes supplemented by interactive webinars and office hours, to teach reading at depth and to explore the many avenues that will lead us to a satisfying answer to “Whence Potter-Mania?”

For the hundreds of you who have signed up at PotterPundits.com to join me on this adventure to invent a method for sharing the best ideas about the Hogwarts Saga conveniently, affordably, personally, and profoundly, thank you very much. Your participation and support means the world to me, more than you could know. Thanks, too, for sharing this one week opportunity with as many friends as you have via social media like FaceBook. The word is spreading.

For those of you who are reading this who haven’t signed up, please do join us! It’s fun, it’s free, and frankly, it’s fascinating. Not to mention, a fabulous opportunity. Where else are you going to get to chat with an Oxford Don about your favorite books and her area of expertise? Sign up is as easy as clicking on this link to PotterPundits.com and signing in there — and, of course, you can unsubscribe from the Pundits mailing list anytime.

I covet, as always, your comments, questions, and corrections.

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