Guest post: A passion for Harry Potter, by Monique Trottier

Having just returned from Azkatraz, the 2009 Harry Potter Symposium, I have the passion of Harry Potter on my mind.
Harry Potter fans are more than passionate about a series of books or movies. They are passionate about the wisdom of the books and the foundation of conversation that the series provides. Harry Potter is a shared experience: you stand in line together to buy the books, you speculate online and at cocktail parties about the outcomes, you gather in public places to watch the movies and you congregate at meetups and symposiums to find those who share your enthusiasm. Snapecast, anyone?

Credit: BibiCall

Credit: BibiCall

The reason I am passionate about Harry Potter is that it is a collective experience of our lifetime and it is a collective experience across generations.

If you were born in the 60s, you remember Brady Bunch, Dick Van Dyke, when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show, Gilligan’s Island, and watching the first moon launch in July 1969. Those born in the 70s remember rotary phones, Pop-Wheels, cassette tapes, and breakdancing, and you understand the meaning of ‘wax on, wax off.’ I’m older than the 80s babies, but I’d imagine you’d recognize images of Michael Jackson when he was black, you owned a million beenie babies, and you remember Full House. The 90s kids (are you still kids?) don’t have to reach too far back to remember virtual pets, Goosebumps, Windows 95, Òtalk to the handÓ, and playing at Playplace in McDonalds.

Regardless of those cultural touch points for each generation, what we all share is Harry Potter. Even those who’ve never read the books or seen one of the movies, you know its a story about a boy wizard and there’s some bad guys. This alone means that Harry Potter can be used as a gateway to a greater conversation about right and wrong, politics, film, literature, life and death, choices, family, love, pain, suffering and friendship. And you can have those conversations because you understand the quest journey, morality tales, romance novels, prejudice and racism, allegories, media frenzies, and satire, all the makings of this series.

The academic level of conversations at Harry Potter conferences confirm for me that Harry Potter acted as a way to enrich the collective reading experience of those who became super fans. Through multiple readings, the books not only informed their understanding of the above but served as the door opener to a world beyond Harry.

Elizabeth Bland of the National Library of Medicine presented a Q&A at Azkatraz about the Library’s exhibit, ‘Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine, and how the books are leading kids to learn about the Renaissance history, science and medicine that informed JK Rowling’s magical creatures, ghosts, and philosophers. (Did you know Dumbledore’s friend Nicholas Flammel was a real guy?)

And this is the passion that fuels my fire. The passion of reading. It astounds me to ask an audience in any classroom how many have read the Harry Potter series. And beyond that to ask how many people have read it multiple times. WeÕre talking about a shared text. In fact, a text that is over 3,000 pages long. What JK Rowling has given us is more than just a book, it’s a work that gives profound satisfaction to those who move well beyond the surface story of boy wizard confronted by evil and towards an allegorical and anagogical reading of the series. Like our high school teachers said, ‘there are several layers to any story.’ Sadly most of those teachers didn’t move beyond plot and characters, but Harry Potter fans, in reading the series over and over again, have transcended. They are now seekers of knowledge.

And what could be more wonderful?

Monique Trottier is an internet marketing specialist and the co-founder of BoxCar Marketing, a book marketing expert and more than anything, a wonderful human being who also happens to be a good friend of mine. I love Monique’s sense of humour and the fact that she is as much of a bookworm as I am. She blogs at SoMisguided.


This is Entry # 20 of 49

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Comments (1)

Twitted by hummingbird604July 25th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

[...] This post was Twitted by hummingbird604 [...]

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