I recently realized it had been over 2 years since I posted something new here at The Hog’s Head. There are a myriad of reasons around why that’s the case, most of it owing to my need to finish out graduate school. In that time, so many things have happened:
- The Hunger Games has become the most recent literary/movie franchise to draw huge fan attention
- Twilight has become the subject an internet meme disparaging its central love story
- I moved from Kentucky to Minneapolis, Minnesota—after spending a year in Norfolk, Virginia.
- In an effort to create a viable social network, Google sold Wave to Apache, folded Buzz, and then launched Google+ (none of which I’ve participated in to any great depth)
- Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars
- My beloved Kentucky Wildcats won a basketball national title
- My even more beloved Chicago Cubs are still terrible
And, most importantly, the Harry Potter saga is now complete in its two most significant media forms: books and film. I’ve loved the story or Harry and his friends since my wife, Jamie, convinced me to give the first book a shot. Once I read Philosopher’s Stone, I read through the other four that were out at the time in less than three weeks. If you’re reading this blog (especially at this point and time), then I don’t have to explain why the story is so important to me. (I do fall into the camp that believed Snape was by far and away the most interesting and compelling character in the entire series.)
But I’ll confess a secret I’ve realized over the last couple of years: I loved participating in the HP community more. In my Harry Potter experience, participation with this website and others has been crucial to my joy and interest in the novels and films. As brilliant as Rowling’s story was, layered in literary allusions and medieval symbolism and wrapped in a thrilling adventure story, the conversations I’ve had here on THH and elsewhere are the things that have stuck with me. More so than the cupboard under the stairs at No. 4 Privet Drive. More so than Harry and Ron’s encounters with acromantulas, basilisks, three-headed dogs, hippogriffs, or dragons. More than the first time Hagrid boomed into the cabin to announce, “You’re a wizard, Harry!” More than the first time I read about Dumbledore’s death—or Fred’s, or Lupin’s and Tonk’s, or Colin Creevey’s, or Snape’s… Or the when Ron and Hermione finally realized what foreshadowing and alchemy had been telling us for over 900 pages.
That participation has been so important to me that I spent much of my graduate work since 2008 studying participatory communities like Harry Potter fandom. (I almost wrote my dissertation on THH and HP fandom in general, but decided I was too close to the scene and the people—it would be weird to write a scholarly monograph about one’s friends.)
My favorite THH memories involve epic debates about Snape’s allegiance and ultimate fate in the interlibrum before Deathly Hallows; Travis’s discussions about the hallows symbolism and importance; and the debate about Voldemort’s character development over time. These debates, sometimes heated, were huge sources of insight that only provoked more curiosity and thought about the overall narrative.
As I start to re-engage here with THH and its readers, I can’t help but wonder quite a bit at how the community has evolved now that we’re not waiting with baited breath for the next book or film. I’ll probably spend quite a bit of time writing here about what I’ve discovered and thinking “out loud” (as it were) about why those changes have taken place.