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) Harry Potter as a literary subject
(4) limits of the Harry Potter story (power of creativity and imagination)
(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) Harry Potter as a “coming of age” story, specifically with themes of death and love. This class is open to everyone, from the most dedicated fans to those who have never read the books or watched the movies. At times, our faculty advisor will also attend lecture as part of their supervision and sponsorship of our class.
Key Learning Outcomes:
Students should not just be able to read the whole series and understand the plot, but critically think about Harry Potter’s relevance to our modern world. We expect students to analyze characters’ motivations, plot developments, and J.K. Rowling’s influence until today. We really have one question, for which we hope everyone can generate a different answer: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is a truly timeless tale-why?
Each class will usually be split into two parts. The first part is a fun activity based on that week's reading, for which you can win points for your house toward the illustrious House Cup. The second part is a discussion, a reading quiz, and a short lecture concerning that week's reading. (See the schedule below for a list of our awesome activities.) House points will also be awarded for various things from making Harry Potter themed food, to house bonding, and even submitting your own discussion questions.
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. These will include short articles. You are not required to bring the texts to class.
Do not be discouraged by the book list. Each book can easily be read in less than one day, 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.
1. Cell Phones should be kept on silent or, even better, turned off. Please. (If you have a Harry Potter ringtone, though, that’s an entirely different matter. …)
2. Since we are now fully online, we know it may be difficult to pay attention during the entirety of class, but please, no social media browsing, online shopping, etc. during class.
3. Tardiness - Please be on time. You are also expected to stay for the entire class period. Repeated truancy will result in a risk of failing the class.
4. Whether you are attending class in a synchronous or asynchronous way, we expect you to watch lectures. We will quiz you on things that were only said in class so make sure you pay attention.
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:
1. Attendance & Active Participation – 30%. Attendance is mandatory but highly encouraged, with the exceptions of timezone differences. Even with the timezone differences, we still expect you to watch the lecture recordings and fill out attendance polls. The first half of each class period will be a fun activity related to the week’s reading or the series as a whole. We will also have weekly assignments. Each week the second half of class will consist of a combination of lecture and discussion relating to the week’s reading.
2. Discussion Responses-10%. Each student will be required to write 2 discussion responses on a prompt/theme provided by the facilitators.
3. Weekly Reading Quizzes – 10%. There will be a short reading quiz every week on the book we are reading that week.
4. Written Reflection – 15%. This is 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).
5. 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 the second week of November. 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.