‘Wizarding in the Classroom: Teaching Harry Potter and Politics’

This journal was an interesting read, as it mainly discusses why Harry Potter is an ideal novel to teach politics through and why undergraduates find it easier than others.

It can be said that the entire article is not extremely relevant to the direct discussion of race within Rowling’s novels; but it is relevant to the study of literature in general and makes an interesting resource to cite when discussing why the novels are applicable to political agendas. Also, as the main body of the article discusses how the class ‘Harry Potter and Politics’ was taught, it could be quite useful for those who have taken up the discussion of the importance of readership and perhaps what positive implications of having such a wide audience of readers can have in relation to learning about real world issues, such as race.

I enjoyed the linking between real life issues with similar issues within Harry Potter (for example seeing what students thought of Hermione’s failure to interest others in the welfare of elves to help develop the relevant arguments) and whilst it might not necessarily be an obvious resource to use as it isn’t directly “for” English Literature students, it is surprisingly insightful in relation to how we learn through Harry Potter rather than what Harry Potter teaches us.

In conclusion, I think this is an acceptable resource as it comes from an academic publisher (American Political Science Association) and holds relevant information that can be applied to analysing politics in Harry Potter.

Sources Mentioned

Deets, Stephen. (2009). ‘Wizarding in the Classroom: Teaching Harry Potter and Politics’. PS: Political Science and Politics. 42(4), 741-744. Retrieved from  http://www.jstor.org/stable/40646681

American Political Science Association (2016): http://www.apsanet.org/ABOUT/About-APSA 

The Psychology of Harry Potter

The Psychology of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Examination of the Boy Who Lived is a book filled with essays written on numerous topics in relation to Harry Potter. Each essay is written by varying academics and discusses thought-provoking topics – one in particular being the use of self-harm within the series and another being a scathing report on what students are actually learning in Hogwarts classes.

I would not hesitate in using this book as a resource for an essay as not only is it comforting to see that the writers of the essays are academics, but the content is very insightful and the sources quoted within the essays are of a reputable and well researched level, making the text very trustworthy.

I find that the resource compliments The Hooded Utilitarian well as similar ideas are discussed in an essay named ‘Harry Potter and the Word That Shall Not Be Named’, written by Mikhail Lyubansky, within the book. Both sources mention the concept of colour-blindness and how this arguably takes place within the series (Lyubansky also makes a comical comment on how Rowling places more importance on ginger hair than on race).

Lyubansky’s footnotes also echo Richard Dyer’s opinions on the matter of whiteness (in his collection of essays White) and therefore is useful in regards to potentially leading you towards more areas of discussion such as the treatment of white people within Harry Potter or fantasy genres in general rather than predominantly focusing on people of colour.

Overall, I found this source the most useful for its abundance of criticism on various dimensions of the series – and I feel would be an excellent catalyst to promote further research into the discussion of Harry Potter.

Sources Mentioned:

Dyer, Richard. (1997). White. London: Routledge.

Mulholland, Neil (ed. by). (2007). The Psychology of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Examination of the Boy Who Lived. Dallas: BenBella Books.

The Hooded Utilitarian – A Look at Pottermore

I had never considered Pottermore as a resource when discussing race in Harry Potter in any case, but thanks to Shoker’s post on The Hooded Utilitarian and her nod to Pottermore’s usage (another positive to using blogs as a resource – they lead you to new places you might not have considered), I now see it as an interesting point of discussion.

Pottermore is being used as a method of promotion. Indeed, the site is not entirely engrossed in the wizarding world, as there are clear elements of JK Rowling’s presence throughout (one being stated quite proudly on the site that the new logo is written in Rowling’s handwriting) and an entire section is dedicated to purchasing the series whilst another shows behind the scenes footage of the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  In this case, the site is biased in favour of the Harry Potter series therefore would not be the ideal place to go when searching for critique.

What I find interesting is that the previous and original Pottermore site was a heavy-duty insight into the world of Harry Potter, and in fact would have been more useful as a source in regards to searching, using Shoker’s example, Dean Thomas and his background and would have perhaps created a form of “solution” for the race representation issues within the novels by extending his character in more detail – but the new Pottermore is very different and now more clearly represents the world of marketing rather than the world of magic. What once would have been a useful source for academic study, has now been tainted by self-promotion.

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Sources Mentioned

Pottermore Limited, [online] https://www.pottermore.com/ 

Pottermore Limited, [online] https://shop.pottermore.com/en_GB/?utm_source=websitemainmenu&utm_medium=pottermore&utm_campaign=shoplink

(Images accessed via https://images.google.com/)

 

 

The Hooded Utilitarian

The Hooded Utilitarian is a resource that calls itself a “quasi-blog/quasi-magazine hybrid” and writes on its site that it is devoted to cultural criticism. Using ‘Utilitarian’ in the title of the site itself infers that it is not just to “look pretty” but it is intended to be practical, implying that they believe that the quality of content within is what is important.

I think the site is very easy to use and is laid out in a very practical manner. Upon searching the site, you will find criticism on anything from subliminal messages in new music videos to imperialism in comic books all of which you can search a topic and choose one of your liking from a long alphabetical list and all the relevant articles will appear, which is very helpful.

It seems that anybody who has anything to say can write for this site by simply emailing the editor Noah Berlatsky with their ideas. This might initially seem precarious with the fear of the public domain of Wikipedia  lurking in your mind, though I do not find this a negative thing upon revising the articles on the site. When scrolling through the numerous posts, it becomes clear that there is a common topic of politics running through them and are based upon informative criticism and non-biased positions rather than trivial speculating.

What I thought was very interesting about this article/blog post is how it not only discusses the treatment of people of colour in the novels but also how the idea of “the other” is represented both within the fictional world and the world which JK Rowling is from. This suggestion might have been weak if Shoker had not included British historical background (treatment of the Irish, Welsh and Scottish) in context with the world of Harry Potter which makes for a well-supported argument and is quite insightful.

There are also numerous other resources quoted within the article to support the argument being given – one that stood  out to me was written by Charles Husband, in regards to politics “flirting with racism” in relation to how people of colour ‘should be’ integrated within Britain and how they are integrated within Harry Potter. This is useful if people want to read further on the subjects that are outside of the discussion of Harry Potter and focus more on the politics aspect.

This being said, Shoker does use some questionable sources to support her argument. She references MTV News, Wikipedia and a few journalistic sources. It is not recommended to use journalistic sources in an essay, and likewise Wikipedia is a site which anybody can write on therefore many ‘facts’ on there may be unreliable. The resources Shoker uses are my one fault with this source and despite the astute content, I believe they unfortunately lower the quality of the post itself.

Despite this, the post does raise engaging points and I thought it was beneficial to read of the representations of culture within the Harry Potter films in comparison to the novels. The clothes which Cho Chang and the Patil sisters are wearing at the ball might not seem relevant when discussing race in the Harry Potter series, but when it is put alongside the film adaptations, it suddenly becomes more important and more noticeable.Cross-linking the novels to the film adaptations makes for quite an interesting comparison and what I appreciate about this resource is that it allows the reader to not only focus on what is being said in the books but also what is not being said.

Sources Mentioned

Shoker, Sarah. (2013). “Harry Potter, Race, and British Multiculturalism”. [online] accessed via http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2013/04/harry-potter-race-and-british-multiculturalism/

 

 

Harry Potter and the Issue of Race

Upon researching critique of Harry Potter, a common theme that seemed to reappear was the issue of race within the novels. Ultimately I expected the resources to focus on the treatment of muggle’s within the novels and how muggles are presented in an inferior light; some resources did discuss this, but others branch further than the world of Harry Potter and relate the issue back to our own world, discussing how JK Rowling writes race and how people of colour are represented in the novels and how this relates to the politics of the world we live in today.

The following posts will discuss how I feel towards each resource and how I could/whether I would possibly use them for an essay; although overall, I found all resources to be informative in one way or another.