Dave, I have enjoyed the Harry Potter books and movies, but a pal just told me that there are actually Harry Potter conferences, where people talk quite seriously about the world of Harry Potter, magic, Hogwarts, and so on. I can’t believe it. Tell me it isn’t so. Or is it?
I’m also a fan of the Harry Potter series by “Jo” Rowling – in fact, I’m half-way through listening to book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – but I’m also rather startled by the level of enthusiasm different groups have for this fictional world and its simple good versus evil storyline. But let me show you what I mean!
First off, there’s The Witching Hour in October 2005, and then next year has Lumos 2006, an academic conference focused on all things Harry Potter. Here’s what they have to say in answer to what’ll be covered: “At Lumos, the scholarly presentations and intellectual discussion of an academic conference meet the fun and camaraderie of the typical fan convention to examine and celebrate all aspects of the Harry Potter world, from text analysis to the online fandom. We hope to create an environment where attendees can examine the novels and indulge their interests, wherever they lie, as well as explore new ground, all in the company of friends and fellow enthusiasts.”
Not sure that they can pull off an academic conference on this topic? Here’s their answer to that question, too: “Like any other academic conference and prior HPEF-sponsored symposia, our programming schedule will be filled with scholarly presentations exploring the Harry Potter books in various contexts.”
Previous conferences from this particular group include sessions on “Justice in the Wizarding World”, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: A Case Against the Death Penalty”, “Education at Hogwarts: A Closer Look”, “Platform 9 3/4 and Sundry Barriers: Ontological Displacements in the HP Series”, “Emeric Switch on Gender: Harry and Hermione’s Transgendered Heroism” and “”But That’s the Title on the Manifesto!” Labor and Class Concerns in Harry Potter”.
Just a few days ago there was a UK conference, Accio 2005, that had its own talks on “The Phoenix in Harry Potter: the Metaphoric Power of the Past”, “Muggle Magic: Have they caught up with us?”, “Elements of Arthurian tradition in Harry Potter”, and “From convention to insurgency: JK Rowling’s critique of childhood innocence in the Harry Potter series”.
Honestly, there’s an entire world of Harry Potter “fandom” that’s rather astonishing in its size and zeal. It’s quite fun if you’re into the books, movies, audio tapes, whatever, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that it’s just a series of juvenile fiction books…
If you want to learn more about the world of Harry Potter and can’t make it to one of these conferences, there are oodles of different sites online worth checking out, including these:
- J. K. Rowling’s official Harry Potter site
- Warner Bros’ official Harry Potter movies site
- US Publisher Scholastic’s Harry Potter site
- MuggleNet, a terrific fan site.
- The Leaky Cauldron, another excellent fan site
- The Harry Potter Automatic News Aggregator
- Veritaserum.com, yet another fan site (Verita Serum forces people to tell the truth).
There are lots of other great sites, and no shortage of kids and adults blogging about, writing about, and generally soaking in the Potter universe. From fan fiction to ‘shipping (talking about what relationships between characters people would like to see), alternative storylines to crossover writing where characters from other fictional universes interact with Potter and his pals, there’s no end to the enthusiasm and creativity of Harry Potter fans!