The objective of this course is to explore J.K. Rowling’s world in the Harry Potter series through book discussions and activities. In this course we will help legitimize the genre of fantasy by exploring topics, themes, and issues brought about by this series. In addition, we will try to understand what makes the series so compelling to generations of readers, and what has made it the best-selling book series of all time. We hope to prove that Harry Potter is a work of academic merit to our students. To do this, we will discuss:
(1) the history of magic, witchcraft, and wizardry
(2) social hierarchies and the role of race in culture
(3) social relationships and dynamics: friendships and families
(4) international education and cooperation
(5) the role of government and corruption, concentration on authoritarianism, in civilian life
(6) children’s literature, fantasy novels and the Harry Potter fandom
(7) the role of death and love in the hero’s journey
This class is open to everyone, from the most dedicated fans to those who have never read the books or watched the movies. As such, we will assume that you have not read the complete Harry Potter series upon entering this class. (This class will operate on a zero-spoiler policy!)
Each class will be entirely virtual, and will usually be split into two parts. The first part is a discussion and a short lecture concerning that week's reading. The second is a fun activity based on that week's reading, for which you can win points for your house toward the illustrious House Cup. (Zoom schedule TBD.)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone OR Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Additional readings and multimedia resources will be available to you online.
Do not be discouraged by the booklist. Each book can be read in less than one week, so it will not be hard to finish reading them throughout the semester. These books will be fun to read, so don’t be surprised if you finish them all sooner than expected!
You must abide by these rules in order to participate in the course, or else risk detention or expulsion from Hogwarts. (Please!) For special circumstances, contact a facilitator as soon as possible.
Tardiness - Please be on time. You are also expected to stay for the entire class period. Repeated truancy will result in loss of house points and a risk of failing the class.
This class will be graded on a Pass/No Pass system and those who pass will be rewarded with two units in English 98/198. The grade will be based upon the following:
Attendance & Participation – Zoom attendance policy is based on a case to case basis. Each week the first half of class will consist of a combination of lecture and discussion relating to the week’s reading. The second half of each class period will be a fun activity related to the week’s reading or the series as a whole (but will be entirely virtual). If you can demonstrate your understanding of the readings and are active during class, you will receive a good participation grade.
Weekly Reading Quizzes – 10%. There will be a short reading quiz at the beginning of every class.
Written Reflection – 15%. This is just a two-page, double-spaced response to the series and the secondary readings. You will be asked to make connections between concepts in the books and concepts in these articles, using your own interpretation of the readings (this means this is no *right* answer, we’re just looking for some original thinking). Reflection questions will be distributed two weeks before the due date (see syllabus).
The Final Project – 35%. In lieu of a final, you will have a final project. You must submit a project proposal to the instructors by November *early in the month*. More information concerning this project will be passed out a few weeks before it is due. The final project is your own creative interpretation of the material covered throughout the course. It can be whatever you want: a story written in the world of Harry Potter, an illustration of some sort, a video, a game, or performance art – anything you like so long as it meets two conditions. The first is that you must relate it fairly explicitly to the course material. The second is that you must put some time into it; although we aren't expecting a drawing of yours to be worthy of the Louvre, we nevertheless will refuse to accept something obviously drawn in the ten minutes before class. You are allowed to work in a group. Final projects will not be accepted late – barring grave circumstances (emphasis on “grave”), no exceptions to this rule will be granted. Don’t stress about this – the idea is that you put effort into it because you really like what you’re doing.