Western students are one step closer to studying Hogwarts, but don’t expect an owl any time soon.
While course offerings will remain devoid of Transfiguration, Divination and Defence Against The Dark Arts, students can now fill the Harry Potter-shaped hole in their curriculum with English 2093 F/G, tentatively titled The Many Faces of Harry Potter.
The course will focus on all seven books in the series, alongside other short stories and novels which represent the genres J.K. Rowling draws from, including detective fiction, the gothic, dystopian fiction and Christian allegory.
Gabrielle Ceraldi, the professor slated to teach the new course, explained her idea for a course based around the world of Harry Potter stemmed from her desire to focus academically on the series as a whole, rather than on individual books.
“I have been teaching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for years in the Children’s Literature course, and a few years ago I tried substituting Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” she said. “[It allowed] for a deeper examination of Rowling’s underlying concerns with issues of racism and tolerance. While those issues are introduced in simplified form in Philosopher’s Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban introduces new ambiguities—for instance, how do the rules of tolerance apply to werewolves, who are genuinely dangerous to the other students at Hogwarts?”
“After teaching Prisoner of Azkaban, I tried re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to see if that could work as a text for Children’s Literature and I decided that it could not—the novel makes sense only in relation to the series as a whole, not only in terms of plot, but also in terms of its incredibly dense fabric of allusions to the other six novels. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows can really only be taught to a class that has read the whole series.”
Ceraldi also feels Harry Potter’s immense popularity and the extraordinary impact it had on a generation of young readers makes the series a worthwhile subject of in-depth study.
“Today’s Western students are the Harry Potter generation—they grew up reading the books, lining up at bookstores to obtain their copies the day they came out. They read the books alongside their peers and eagerly awaited the release of the movies. I’ve had numerous students tell me that ‘Harry Potter raised me!’ or ‘If you didn’t read the Harry Potter series, you didn’t have a childhood!’ Personally, I’m envious of this generation of students—I read and loved the novels as an adult, but these students got to grow up alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the series has a depth of meaning for them that I find really exciting and inspiring as a professor of Children’s Literature.”
Discussions on adding a Potions elective to the Chemistry program are currently ongoing.