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Come now, Professor! Harry Potter Does Horses!


Pottermania lives on in college classrooms

By Patrick Lee Special to CNN

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (CNN) — J.K. Rowling has retired Harry Potter, but the fictional boy wizard lives in on college classes across the country where the children’s books are embraced as literary and academic texts.

Harry Does This Steed On Stage

Drawing on their expertise in theology, children’s literature, globalization studies and even the history of witchcraft, professors have been able to use Harry Potter to attract crowds of students eager to take on a disciplined study of the books.

Danielle Tumminio, a Yale Divinity School graduate student and the instructor for Yale’s Harry Potter course “Christian Theology and Harry Potter,” said her academic background in literature and theology, combined with her personal interest in the books, inspired her to design the course.

The course uses all seven Potter books and the students examine Christian themes such as sin, evil and resurrection.

“It was a struggle for me as I put the class together, because I knew if I didn’t construct this really well … that a lot of what I was doing would be missed or misconstrued. I certainly didn’t want to come across as someone trying to indoctrinate my students,” Tumminio said. “I also wanted to make it clear that it was a critical endeavor, and that it wasn’t … that you’d sit around all day talking about how great Luna Lovegood was.”

Rowling’s books are often analyzed in the context of other relevant texts, such as contemporary British fantasy or potential influences, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

“If somebody says this isn’t worth a Yale class, I would say if we were just reading the Harry Potter books for their literary merit … I would probably agree with them. [But] the lens of the Harry Potter books actually makes theology … easier to understand,” [a Yale Professor] said. “It’s amazing how many connections you can draw between the theology that we’re reading outside of class and the Harry Potter that we’ve known for 10 years.”

Lisa Lowe, professor of American Studies at Yale, has read all seven books not as a scholar, but as a parent.

“As an adult, you’ll be thinking, ‘What would Harry have done?'” – the Yale professor said.

All About J.K. Rowling • Young Adult Books • Harry Potter

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Posted on March 27, 2008 by Editor

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