Category Archives: Hogwarts School of Literature

Harry Potter & The Hunger Games: Part 2, Dystopias

[This is the second essay comparing the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy.  Part 1 was posted on January 30, 2013.]

In the first entry of this series, we examined Harry Potter’s and Katniss Everdeen’s journeys along the “Hero’s Path”, what Joseph Campbell called the great human “monomyth”. This time, let’s look briefly at ways in which both series tap into another literary tradition: the Dystopia. Continue reading

You Can Learn Science Fiction from Amy Sturgis!

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Amy Sturgis has been one of our favorites around this pub. Few people have the kind of grasp of Gothic and Science Fiction that she does. We’ve been calling on her expertise on the former for a few years now.

Starting in August through the Fall semester, you can learn Science Fiction from Amy Sturgis – and get credit for it – at Mythgard Institute! The first of two classes, “Science Fiction, Part I” will explore sci-fi from 1818-1966. Enroll to get credit or to audit now! More details below.

Course Desription: Continue reading

Don’t Occupy Gringotts

In the last post, we learned about Carrie-Ann’s new Harry Potter essay collection from last year’s

“Imagining Better” conference at Marymount. The collection is available online for free, and commenter darcy58 made a great suggestion: we should discuss each paper individually. Some of the authors have agreed to guest post, while others will join the conversation when their essay is discussed. We’re taking them in their published order, so mine is first.

In “Don’t Occupy Gringotts,” my goal was twofold:

  • To restate and clarify the “Moral Imagination” and its place both in literature as a whole and specifically in Harry Potter.
  • To give more attention to the way that literature inspires “right order in the commonwealth.” My previous work was focused primarily on “right order in the soul.” My hope was to synthesize some of my work on politics in Potter from Harry Potter and Imagination with my later thinking on Moral Imagination.

Story is survival, L’Engle believed, and particularly a survival tool for times of widespread social upheaval and uneasiness. I conclude the essay with these words: “Dumbledore, Harry, and Hermione … might offer the following bit of advice for us: Before taking to the streets to occupy Gringotts (or Wall Street), we should first occupy our own souls.”

I look forward to your thoughts, corrections, and questions!

Goodbye, Maurice Sendak

This post is later than I intended it to be, due to the site being down for a couple of days. While everyone has probably written or read remembrances of Maurice Sendak since his passing on May 8, I still think the Hog’s Head needs one.

Maurice Sendak provided me with what will be one of my favorite memories forever: reading through Where the Wild Things Are with my two-year-old daughter, while she recited it from memory (always showing me her “terrible claws”). We even recorded it once. I decided to start reading that book with my daughter because she started having nightmares. I wanted to do what Sendak did best: demonstrate the power of the imagination to overcome fear.

Both the book and the film, which Sendak was very involved with, produce very raw and unexpected emotional reactions in me. I don’t even know that I fully understand it, but I’m certain in lies in Sendak’s willingness not to hold back on where he was willing to go with his subject material. In his own words, “I refuse to lie to children.” His works were controversial and there may be many Hog’s Head readers who think he crossed the line, but I appreciate him. I intend to become more familiar with his other works in the very near future.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with Sendak’s work below.

Mugglenet Academia

Update: Please see comment below from Keith of Mugglenet. This hasn’t “gone public” just yet. I jumped the gun (jumped the wand?) a little.

I had a chance to catch up for an hour today with John Granger. Unfortunately, we weren’t recording the conversation, as it was on a regular phone, and I’m not the U.S. government. Although perhaps it’s on file somewhere with the U.S. government.

I digress.

I’ve been more behind on Hogwarts Professor than I have here. But John explained that he’s got an interesting thing happening with Mugglenet: Academia! Looks like a great podcast. If you need something to listen to, especially as you’re waiting for me to get the PubCast going again, I’d recommend this.

We also talked about getting the Pundits back up and rolling again. Stay tuned. We mean it.

Hog’s Head PubCast #89: “Just Behind the Veil:” An Interview with Mr Pond

Mr Pond wrote an essay on Rowling and MacDonald in Harry Potter for Nerds! Listen to the interview, buy the book, and discuss his essay here.

About Mr Pond

George MacDonald

“Literature” and “Genre Fiction”

Kim Wright asks, “Why are so many literary writers shifting into genre?”

I find the assumption behind the question annoying. There’s “literature,” and then there’s all that weird science fiction, fantasy and mystery stuff. The genres keep the publishing industry alive with mass sales of these penny dreadfuls, so that the real writers can continue to pen their masterful, destined-to-be classics.

Wright’s article seems occasionally to question the silly divide (genre writers are “belatedly receiving real recognition”), but mostly takes it as an obvious given (genre books are “consciously designed to be commercial”).

Ultimately, she concludes that “this crappy market [genre] may actually end up producing better books.”

Well, it’s a step in the right direction, I guess.