Wonder what the title is all about? Well it’s about a conference that was held on Friday in Scotland. Where 60 scholars discussed Harry Potter and it’s literary components. With almost 50 lectures, this is the first Harry Potter conference to strictly talk about Harry Potter as a literary text.
ACADEMICS gathered in Scotland on Friday to discuss a range of important literary topics including the racial politics of goblins, the canonisation of Neville Longbottom, and Beedle the Bard as mythopoesis in the Chaucerian tradition. Welcome to Britain’s first conference on Harry Potter. Entitled A Brand of Fictional Magic: Reading Harry Potter as Literature, the conference brings together 60 scholars for a two-day event hosted by the University of St Andrews school of English. Billed as the world’s first conference to discuss the Harry Potter series strictly as a literary text, it offers almost 50 lectures, with academics taking on issues including paganism, magic and the influence on J.K. Rowling of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare. Seminar titles range from ”Moral development through Harry Potter in a post-9/11 world” to ”Harry Potter and Lockean civil disobedience”.
The man who put together this event, John Pazdziora (a doctoral candidate in the university’s English department), has this to say:
”These are the most important, seminal texts for an entire generation of readers. In 100, 200 years’ time, when scholars want to understand the early 21st century, when they want to understand the ethos and culture of the generation that’s just breaking into adulthood [now], it’s a safe bet that they’ll be looking at the Harry Potter novels.”
There have been many mixed responses regarding this conference. Why? Some say that the fact that great authors such as Tolkien and Lewis are being put with Rowling is an “outrage”. And, did they mention Shakespeare?! Way to degrade such an amazing man by saying Rowling’s work might be influenced by his (note my sarcasm)! Many argue that her books weren’t meant for “academic study”. Hmm, meaning we should only study things that are made to be studied? There’s a bigger story than some kid wizards with magic sticks who go to boarding school.
I think it’s great to study cultural interests. This series has served as a catalyst to an entire generation of children actually enjoying reading, but not only children are getting something from it. There’s a reason why it’s so popular, why it’s sticking around even though all of the books and movies have come out. And I’ll tell you this, it’s not only the magic that’s appealing. There’s so much more.
“Indeed, studying Harry Potter as a work of literature turns the literary world upside-down. If Dumbledore and Hagrid can be granted the status of Don Quixote and Hamlet, it’s alarming to contemplate what’s next.”
How about we be realistic…I’m pretty sure that if we put some kids into a room and held up a picture of Hamlet, they wouldn’t know who he was. But they sure as hell would know who Harry Potter was. What’s so bad about a children’s series gaining literary status? Please enlighten me. I understand that some people might not like Harry Potter, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of study. I’m not very fond of Shakespeare, but we study his work. Many people hate Dickens but that’s required reading for most of us. I don’t understand why only books that majority of children don’t enjoy are the only ones that are given the key to this damned “academic study” castle. What’s wrong with staying relevant to current culture? I’m not afraid to admit that I think Harry Potter is a classic.
What are your thoughts? Leave the comments bellow! (Note: I’m not trying to attack any opposing viewpoints, I just really want to know why it’s so terrible.)