Keith Hawk (KH) John Granger (JG) Nancy Reagin (NR) Elspeth Gordon-Smith (EG) Gerardo Alvarez (GA)
KH: This lesson of MuggleNet Academia is brought to you by Audible. Please visit AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet for your free audiobook download.
[Show music begins]
Eric: Hey! Josée! Wait up!
Josée: Oh hi, Eric! I'm sorry, I really can't talk right now. I'm running late.
Eric: Late? Late for what?
Josée: Oh, it's because I have to go meet Keith and John Granger. I'm actually going to listen to a Harry Potter literature lesson at MuggleNet Academia.
Eric: Oh cool, that sounds awesome. Can I come with?
Josée: Yes, of course you can. Just come with me.
Eric: Okay. Let's go!
[Show music continues]
[MuggleNet Podcasts promo begins]
Harry:[yawns] Good morning, you two. What are you up to?
Ron: Hey, Harry. Hermione and I found this wireless sitting here in the common room.
Hermione: We can't decide what to listen to, though.
Harry: Well, have you two heard of Alohomora!? They always come up with interesting new ideas and theories about the wizarding world, and invite their listeners to participate in the discussion, on and off the air. They even talk about things we do here at Hogwarts, like magical creatures, wizarding history, Divination...
Harry: Yes, me... I mean, what? No! No, no, no, they don't talk about me. A lot.
Hermione: Well, I've really been enjoying MuggleNet Academia. The show goes into an in-depth analysis of the wizarding world and what impact it has made on Muggle culture. They invite guest speakers and students on every episode to discuss classic and modern works of Muggle literature, and further examine why the wizarding world, as Muggles know it, has made such an impact on them.
Ron: Well, we have the day off, so I want to listen to Audiofictions. The MerMuggle Readers tell new stories written by Muggles. I love hearing what the Muggles think about us! Not only that, but listeners can request which stories they'd like to hear, and participate in contests to have their own stories read. I've even heard a few stories about the three of us.
Hermione: Well, these all are great suggestions, but which one should we listen to?
Harry: Chosen One gets first dibs!
Ron: Hey, I found the wireless! I get to choose!
Hermione: You two have homework to do! I'm done, so we should listen to my show!
[Harry, Hermione, and Ron bicker]
Neville: Good morning, you three. Err, what are you doing with my wireless?
Ron: Neville? This is your wireless?
Neville: Yes, I've been looking for it everywhere. I don't want to miss MuggleCast. They're always up on the latest wizarding news.
Harry: Oh. Well, we were hoping to listen to Alohomora!
Hermione: MuggleNet Academia!
Neville: Oh, sorry. But you three know you can just download those shows to listen to whenever you want, right? Anyway, thanks for finding my wireless!
Michael: The magic lives on with MuggleNet's new podcast family.
Caleb, Kat, and Noah: Open the Dumbledore with Alohomora!
Carole, Jessie, and Michael: Live beyond the books with Audiofictions.
Eric: Get the latest news and excitement from MuggleCast.
Michael: Find every member of the MuggleNet podcast family on iTunes to subscribe and download the latest episodes today. With hundreds of episodes available, the choice is up to you.
Ginny: Hey, you three. Mum just sent her old wireless over to me. Isn't it great?
Harry, Hermione, and Ron: Ginny!
[Ginny, Harry, Hermione, and Ron bicker]
[MuggleNet Podcasts promo ends]
KH: Welcome back to the next episode of MuggleNet Academia. This is Lesson 19: The History Hidden Within Harry Potter. John, last show we had with Carrie Birmingham and Letty Nardone was really fascinating, talking about how our high school years affect us in our adult life. We looked at different things like Dumbledore's childhood years, Harry and Voldemort's love for the school of Hogwarts, how the Marauders were basically the same in school as they were in their adult life, and we had a lot more. What did you take from the show, John?
JG: That I'm still the same geek and twerp that I was in high school, Keith. It was kind of depressing. You got to be Larry Schmidt, the great third baseman from the Phillies! I wound up being Poindexter. Anyway, believe me, it gave me a whole different perspective... all kidding aside, it gave me a whole different perspective on Harry Potter as an adolescent romance that... we read these books largely because we're still dealing with the issues of our adolescent brain formation. It was a fascinating show. Both the guests were spectacular.
KH: Yeah, it was a great show, and we had a lot of comments coming in about how nice it was that we had a librarian as well as the professor. And you're right. I mean, not Larry Schmidt, Michael Jack Schmidt...
JG: Oh my gosh.
KH: ...from the Philadelphia Phillies. But I'll take that even further, John! Yesterday I had baseball tryouts and I was drafted by two separate teams, so I am playing baseball this summer on two teams. So I am carrying my high school years through to my adult life as we speak. [laughs]
JG: You know, I can see you at the plate, Mike Schmidt/Keith Hawk, and I can see you pulling it hard to the left field. I love it.
KH: I will take some videos and send them to you at some point in time.
JG: I look forward to it.
KH: Anyway, like I said, we did get some good reviews on this. One of them came in from... I'm going to mess up the pronunciation of her name, but it's Arya Underfoot on iTunes. And Arya said:
"I've been listening to this podcast for a while now, and I've never heard any episode to be less than intellectually delicious - great food for thought. I just requested John Granger's book on ring composition for my college's library, and I'm the first to check it out! I'll be sure to send in a review when I'm done, and leave a sticky note in the book to lead the next reader to this podcast."
Thank you, Arya! That was very nice of you to say that, and I'm sure John appreciates his book getting out there in the world.
JG:[laughs] Yeah, buy more books!
KH: Buy more books! [laughs] And then we had a nice email from Erin. Erin said:
"It was so great to hear a school librarian on the most recent podcast! It gives me hope that one day maybe I'll make it on the show. I was thinking that a show on potions and botany might be interesting. Also a show on spells and language origins would be fun, too. I really enjoy the podcast and wait for each new episode to air. Thanks to you and John for a really great podcast!"
You know what, Erin? We have a lot of shows lined up and those are probably on the list at some point in time, so stay tuned for more shows like that. Listen, we want to get right into the show, after we introduce our guests. So John, would you please be kind enough to introduce our special guest this evening?
JG: Sure. Again, this is a good friend of mine. This is Nancy Reagin from Pace University, a professor of history there.
KH:The Nancy Reagan?!
JG: No, not Nancy Reagan...
NR: Well, from my standpoint I'm Nancy Reagin. [laughs]
JG: That's right! That's right. Not the Nancy Reagan you may have thought of, but Nancy Reagin - R-E-A-G-I-N - the noted historian and Potter Pundit and the editor of the spectacular collection, Harry Potter and History. Not the only Wiley collection of pop-culture books that she's edited, but I think this is my favorite. Forgive me, Nancy...
NR: No, it's my favorite too. [laughs]
NR: We're supposed to love all our children equally, but this is actually my favorite. [laughs]
JG: Okay. This is a... well, we're going to talk about that during the show. I don't want to jump into all that. But Nancy and I have been talking for a long time about Harry Potter on all sorts of things, especially popular culture, about which she is an expert. Nancy, tell us about how you got into the pop-culture thing. Just to give people an idea of your background.
NR: Well, I'm a history professor at Pace University and a department chair there, but I've also always had a very active interest in popular culture and was interested in different kinds of fan communities. A former student of mine is an editor at Wiley and he knew I was a die-hard fan and geek, especially interested in Harry Potter. So he asked me to edit a series that explored the history within and behind the imagined worlds in a number of popular cultural series of movies and books. And Harry Potter was the first one that I began to work on, it was the first one that I chose to work on, because it's my deepest engagement and investment in any book or film series. But it wasn't the last!
JG: What I was fascinated to learn when I first met you was the first fan culture that you studied.
NR: Oh! You mean the one that I'm doing scholarly work on?
JG: That's right!
NR: Ah yes, yes. Well, I published a number of books on German history and the last one was about Nazi women's involvement in the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe. And it was so terribly depressing to research and write.
NR: No really, I was very, very depressed by the end of it.
JG: Yeah, I believe it.
NR: And I wanted to do something fun, and I thought, "I've been a fan all my life. I want to research the history of early literary fan communities. And how did these fan communities grow up? How do you get the emergence of whole communities where people are deeply engaged with each other and with these imaginary worlds that are so real to them and that they love to explore and discuss?" So I decided to do a history of that. And I think I talked about that with John. I'm writing a history of the emergence of the first really diehard deeply engaged fan communities in the late 19th century, comparing the United States and Germany and Britain.
NR: And so Sherlock Holmes fandom, early science fiction fan communities, westerns and detective genre fiction - that's where it really began, was with the emergence of different kinds of popular fiction in the late 19th and early 20th.
JG: Did you listen to our show, by any chance, on comic book superheroes? Because Chris Gavaler talks about the first fan community being the Ku Klux Klan. Essentially the Klan...
JG: ...the Ku Klux Klan is a fan community after the Klansmen. You'd get that reference right away.
KH: I was going to ask that same exact question because that's true. The second generation of the Ku Klux Klan was in fact the first fandom in history. That's how I understood it, too.
NR: Well, it depends on how you define fandom.
JG: Right. Believe me, Keith, we could do a whole show with Nancy on fandom communities because her background on the German stuff is fascinating. Anyway...
KH: But that's not why we're here. [laughs]
JG: That's right. That's to give us a taste, though, of what Nancy is like. Nancy is a historian's historian, and I can't wait to talk to her about this magnificent collection that she's got here with the diversity of writers and subjects that are covered in this book, Harry Potter and History. But she's not our only guest tonight, Keith.
KH: No, we have two student guests once again on the show. Our first one I'd like to introduce is Elspeth Gordon-Smith. Now, if that name sounds familiar, it's because we had her mother as one of our special guests when we had author Dolores Gordon-Smith, who is the author of the Jack Haldean series on this show and she was a delight in Lesson 5. Elspeth, welcome to the show. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you are a student guest on this show.
EG: Well, good evening, and I'll pass on the good message to my mother. Well, I've been a massive fan of Harry Potter since I was about nine years old and I've actually met John Granger before. We were at a conference in St. Andrews last April, I think it was.
JG: May. Mid May.
EG: Last May. Yes, last May. I remember because I wasn't so worked up about exams at that point. [laughs] But I'm a student at the University of Glasgow. Although I'm studying film and television, I do have... obviously I have a love of Harry Potter, but also I'm very interested in the history behind it and how that relates more to 20th century history. So you have the Nazi allegory, but as well you also have the IRA allegory, which is the long-standing terrorism, which was very prevalent in the '70s, '80s, and onto the 1990s in the UK and Ireland, and I do think that's something that is overlooked somewhat...
JG: We're going to talk about that.
KH: Yeah, we'll be getting into all that during the show, Elspeth.
JG:[laughs] That's great.
KH: Let's save it for the show!
[EG and KH laugh]
KH: And our second student guest is Gerardo Alvarez from Buffalo State. Hello, Gerardo. How are you?
GA: Good. How are you?
KH: Good. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're studying at Buffalo State.
GA: Well, up at Buffalo State, I'm a History and Education major with minors in Economics, Business, Coaching, and that's about it.
JG: Wow, that's a lot.
KH: Well, when I saw his application come in, I don't know how long ago he sent it in. It was last year at some point in time...
KH: ...he sent in his thing. Probably in about maybe May or June, shortly after the show started. He sent his in, and I see major in History with World War II and American Revolution. I'm like, "Yeah, this guy is on my show."
[GA and KH laugh]
KH: This is going to be the perfect match up for this show. So we are going to get into this discussion, with Harry Potter and History from our guest, Nancy Reagin, and our student guests, Elspeth and Gerardo. But first, I do want to have a couple of mentions of what's coming up for the Harry Potter fandom. John, tell us what's happening on April 6th at Potterwatch 2013.
JG: April 6th, the first big fan con of the year is taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina. Potterwatch 2013 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I'm the keynote speaker, so I'll be there talking about ring composition and literary alchemy and all sorts of fun stuff. I hope to see some folks there from MuggleNet. Make sure that you do a shout out and say, "Hi John, I listen to you on MuggleNet." I'll autograph one of your books! Hooray!
KH: That sounds great.
JG: Amy Sturgis will be there as well, and a lot of friends that have been on this show. It promises to be a real gathering for Hermiones as well as for the Nevilles and even a few Dracos, I imagine. Stop by!
KH: Awesome, I can't wait to hear what the report is like on that. Also coming up in April, the week after Potterwatch 2013, is something that I'm very excited for and that is the Quidditch World Cup in Kissimmee, Florida. This past Saturday was Selection Saturday where they took all 80 teams and divided them into pools, so the 60 Division 1 teams and the 20 Division 2 teams are now separated into pools of 5 teams each. They will play against each other and move on through play-offs and finals on Sunday. It's going to be an exciting Quidditch World Cup, and I can't wait to see you guys down there. So if you can get down there, please do. If you haven't made your arrangements but want to, then what you need to do is go to All About Group Travel. They have a Quidditch section and they are the official travel sponsors for the International Quidditch Association. Coming up in May, as we have mentioned many times on the show, is MISTI-Con. MISTI-Con will have us, MuggleNet Academia, as the keynote speaker during the luncheon. We will also have a whole bunch of other shows going on. There are hundreds of hours of programming. Formal, intellectual, literature tracks, just amazing stuff. Plus we have magicians, fire dancers, wizard rock of all kinds, and we have Ray the Dark Lord Bartender serving us drinks with mixes of all sorts.
NR: I'd be afraid to drink them.
KH: Oh, it's great. He makes drinks called The Horcrux, he makes drinks called The Cedric Diggory, The Hufflepuffs, The Gryffindors, all of his drinks are named after Harry Potter books. It's just a delight of the senses and the taste buds.
JG: Not only am I excited about the bartender, but Janet Batchler is coming in from the University of Southern California where she teaches screenwriting. She's famous for the screenwriter on her own. She's written one of the Batman films, et cetera. And she's a Potter Pundit.
[Show music begins]
JG: I've known her for about ten years now. She's a spectacular speaker and she's going to talk about the transition between book to film. It should be a wow program.
KH: I can't wait for it either. It's going to be a lot of fun at the convention. But let's get on with this show, shall we? From MuggleNet.com, my name is Keith Hawk.
JG: I'm John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor and author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures.
NR: I'm Nancy Reagin, History Professor at Pace University and editor of Harry Potter and History.
EG: I'm Elspeth Gordon-Smith, student at the University of Glasgow.
GA: And I'm Gerardo Alverez, student at Buffalo State.
[Show music continues]
KH: Before we get into our lesson today, I would like to take this moment to thank our sponsor, Audible. If you are not familiar with Audible, Audible is the Internet's leading provider of spoken audio entertainment with over 40,000 titles to choose from. If you have a genre you prefer to listen to, such as the immensely popular young adult genre, they will most certainly have the right selection for you to choose from. If you go right now to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet, that's AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet, you can get yourself a free Audible book to download when you sign up for their service. And if you're wondering which book to get with your free audiobook download, I would suggest perhaps The Magicians or The Magician King by Lev Grossman, a book that will certainly appeal to almost every Harry Potter fan. Or if you have already finished listening to the Lev Grossman books, then perhaps you'd like to dive into some JRR Tolkien with The Hobbit, as Tolkien is certainly discussed on many of our lessons here on the show. If none of those tickles your fancy, then don't worry. There are still over 40,000 titles left for you to choose from. So once again, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet and get your free download today.
And we're back with Lesson 19: The History Hidden Within Harry Potter. Nancy Reagin, History Professor at Pace University and editor of Harry Potter and History, joins John, Elspeth Gordon-Smith, Gerardo Alvarez, and myself for a rollicking conversation about all the history rolled into the Hogwarts saga. Join us for discussion of the pureblood history of English aristocracy, the legendary and true backdrops of the Statute of Secrecy, a look at the life and death of Nicolas Flamel, alchemist, magic for profit in England's history (anybody want to buy a bezoar?), Medieval Manuscripts, IRA bombings and Death Eaters, and, yes, we will be getting into Voldemort and Hitler. So if you love history or if you just want to learn the extra dimension the Muggle-world backdrops give our favorite book series, then this is the show you won't want to miss. So get your treacle tart and your Butterbeer as this is going to be one sweet show!
We start every show off and lesson talking about the Boy Who Lived and how Harry became such a big part of our imaginative and day-to-day lives. Professor Reagin, I want to start off with you and then we'll get in to our students. And just tell us what your first encounter of the world was and when you decided, "Wow, this is really interesting. I'm going to study this," or, "Yes, this just hooked me for life."
NR: Well, I owe it to my children. Children help you discover fantasy and imagination in many ways. I've been active in science fiction fandom and Star Trek fandom in particular when I was younger. And then I became a history professor and I got a PhD and I had children and I was very busy. But my children wanted to go see a Harry Potter movie - and this was the third movie - and I went to see it with them and I just fell into it. I came home and I said, "Oh my gosh! That is so wonderful!" And within five days, I had read all of the first five books. I mean, I'm not kidding. Really...
NR: ...I don't think I slept that week.
NR: No, I don't think I slept that week. I really don't. Fortunately, I went to see it with my children in May and the semester was over, so I could indulge in that way and not sleep. And I finished the fifth book and I said, "Holy moly! When is the next one coming out?"
[JG and NR laugh]
NR: And then I said, "There's got to be a fandom for this. There has to be a fandom for this. It was so wonderful." So after about a fifteen year hiatus of not having been involved in any kind of fan community, I sort of Googled it and immediately, of course...
NR: ...discovered it was the world's most enormous, rambunctious fandom that you could imagine. And I just sort of fell into it, and I don't think it's ever ended for me.
KH: All right, well I'm going to ask you a direct question: How soon after that did you discover MuggleNet?
NR: Very soon, actually.
KH: Yes! [laughs]
NR: No, really! Truly, truly. A friend of mine is active, is a big Hermione fan, and she had mentioned it to me. And a group of my friends got me to come to Witching Hour, not about a year... it was the following fall, I think. And people were talking about it there, too.
KH: Was that the one at Salem?
NR: Yeah. I was there.
KH: Yeah. That was 2006?
NR: Yeah, so... no, I think...
NR: ...it was the following fall. Fall 2005. And that's where I met, actually, some of the historians who contributed to Harry Potter and History.
NR: That was where I first began to connect with other historians who were interested in Harry Potter.
KH: That was a great convention from what I've heard. I was not in it or up there at that time but I have heard things from it, so that's interesting. How about you, Elspeth? Where did you fall in love with the series?
EG: Well, I was nine years old and it was my auntie Barbara who said, "I've got this book. I think you might enjoy it," and it was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And of course, I was up in the bathroom at around three o'clock in the morning, my very tired auntie knocking on the door and saying, "Please go to bed."
EG: But after at that point, it was just...
EG: It was just a work of a moment to go to the school library and read Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban and then, like, a six-month wait before Goblet of Fire came out and I was absolutely hooked. And thankfully, so was the rest of my family. In fact, it got to the point where when it came to the midnight launches of Order of the Phoenix, we couldn't possibly share so we all had to get our own copies of them.
[EG and JG laugh]
KH: Well, now... anybody who has listened to this show knows and loves your mother, Dolores Gordon-Smith. So I have to ask, was she the first one in the family to fall in love with Harry Potter? Or was it you? Or was it one of your sisters?
EG: No, it wasn't. Actually, it was my younger sister Lucy who got in to it in a big way. She was the one who introduced us all by hook or by crook to the fandom of it. And obviously we couldn't like something that our younger sister liked. God, how uncool.
[EG and JG laugh]
EG: It was almost independently of each other we all discovered the Harry Potter fan fiction on FanFiction.net, and through that we found MuggleNet and we really joined in a strong way in the fandom of the whole thing. And it was just a really nice thing that we could all do together and we all enjoyed. My mum, it was almost like you, Nancy, that she seemed to read them all within a weekend and then she finally understood what we were all going on about, and she became a bigger fan than the rest of us.
NR: Well, when you're the adult no one can make you go to bed.
EG: Well, yes.
JG: That's right. You can stay in the bathroom forever.
JG: I love it.
EG: On the Order of the Phoenix launch nights in the UK, the bathroom was very much occupied. [laughs]
KH:[laughs] That's great. Well, Gerardo, how about yourself? When did you start reading and when did you start falling in love with the series?
GA: I think I might have been in the fourth grade. Some of my friends had been reading it and they were talking to me about it, so I borrowed one of the books from them. I think it was Order of the Phoenix. No, it might have been Chamber of Secrets and that was the first one I read. I had to go back and read the first one.
GA: And after that I've been hooked. I've bought all the books. I went to the movies at midnight. I got all of my friends into it. And I've made a lot of friends.
JG: Wow, this is great. Nancy, you're the oddball here, Nancy, in that you saw a movie first.
NR: I did.
JG: I think Keith did, too.
KH: Yeah, that's...
NR: That's my shame. I saw a movie-verse first. Yes.
KH: No, that's how I did it, too. I had the first three movies and I did collect all the books when they came out, so I did have them but I never read them. I had them for my older daughter.
KH: But yeah, it was the movies that kicked it off for me.
JG: That's fascinating to me. It's great. That's a whole other dimension to the fandom. People that saw the films first and then entered into the story, and in my experience, people like you and Keith, Nancy, people... maybe the pureblood readers look down their noses at the folks that came in through the movies or whatever, but in my experience there's no shading there. The people that... their appreciation of the books is at least as good as those who just read the books before they got to the movies.
KH: Right. It doesn't matter how you are a fan as long as you are a fan, and if you are a fan it's one of those that are the true fans that... it doesn't matter if you only read the book series once, but the fact that you read it, loved it, understood it, and have a following from that point on. That's what it's all about. And if you're a fan of just the movies that's fine, too. We welcome those fans, too. But do yourself a favor and read the book series. You'll be blown away.
JG: Yeah. Let's get into the show then, Keith. We've got everybody on board. Everyone is a real fan, like we didn't know that already. All right, I'm going to ask you the hard question first, Nancy.
JG: Okay? The obvious question for the editor of Harry Potter and History is why Harry Potter and History? I mean, the Hogwarts saga is not a history text. What separates this collection...
NR: Well, that depends on how you read it, but...
JG: Oh, okay. What separates this collection... which I love, incidentally, as a Potter Pundit and as a closeted history junkie. What separates this book from the pile of academic exploitation texts? Things like Harry Potter and Philosophy, Harry Potter and the Law, Harry Potter and Organic Gardening, Harry Potter and Transgender Issues, Harry Potter and Barack Obama's Birth Certificate? It seems everyone wants to link their subject, their obsession, with Pottermania to catch the tsunami-like wave. Why Harry Potter and History?
NR: Well, I don't want to put down the other books.
NR: I think... no, really. [laughs] I think people really love Harry Potter. There's something that they really love, and they will always read it through the lens of the discipline - or the approach to the world - that interests them the most. And so probably a lot of the authors or editors of those other books were doing that. But for me, I think the inspiration for the book was that when you have a series that you really love, and in your mind you're spending a lot of time there and you're living there, when you finish it, when you finish reading it, and you've gone through all of the canon, you always want more. I mean, I think that's a lot of the impulse behind fan fiction, is you want more. You want more of that world. And as a historian, I wanted to create a volume with my other historian friends who were Harry Potter fans where you would also offer people a little bit more of the world of Harry Potter by unpacking and playing with it, unraveling a lot of the history that is right there in the background in the Harry Potter volumes, or that's built into that world. And so you are offering people a little bit more by giving them a new entry into it. Another way of putting it is that it's a historically focused reader's companion. I mean, reader's companions are a very traditional way to approach any source and get a little bit more out of it and understand it better, and this is a historical reader's companion, is what it is.
JG: Well, I'll tell you, as a Harry Potter fan and a history junkie of sorts, I was astonished. I really thought to myself when I picked it up... forgive me, you sent me a copy. We're friends, you sent me a copy, and I thought, "Well, what am I really going to learn from this?" And every page I learned something, where I was doing that, "Gosh, I didn't know that," or, "That contradicts something that I've always assumed was true and it was wrong." This really is an eye opening text for the history... person who just likes history, to the person who thinks they know it really well. Every one of these articles is great. I'm going to talk about the book first. Harry Potter and History has got fourteen chapters and they're divided into three parts. The first part is magic before the Statute of Secrecy, which is 1689 or 1692 - we'll get to that - magic after the enactment of the Statute, and finally four chapters on magical hierarchies in which you talk about women, werewolves, et cetera, in...
NR: It's social history of [unintelligible] at this point. Yeah.
JG: There you go. This organization of the collection and the writing of each contribution speaks, really, to the skill of the editor. And forgive me, Nancy. I've edited two book collections myself and I've contributed to four other ones. I know how hard this is and really the job you did here is magisterial. So here's my question: How did you go about finding such a diverse set of authors on such a wide range of subjects? You said you met a lot of them in Salem at Witching Hour, which was a great con, but there's no way you met all these people at one con.
NR: No, no, I didn't. Some of them I met on LiveJournal. [laughs]
NR: So historians... and you meet them through... historians sort of introduce each other to other historians who are in the fandom. I think that's actually... I met all of these people as historians through fandom. I didn't know them as historians outside of Harry Potter fandom earlier because most of the people I know who are historians are other German historians or sometimes other European woman historians because that's what I publish in. But you only needed one German historian for this collection.
NR: And fortunately, because in fandom I met people and they would say, "Oh, I know another history professor who is..." and then they would introduce me. And it's a very diverse lot in terms of what their expertise in and what period and what nation they each specialize in. So because I met these different historians through fandom, we had just an enormous array of approaches and backgrounds and people who could look at different pieces of it - classical, classicists, medieval historians, early modern historians. The woman who wrote the chapter on historiography in the wizarding world about the last chapter, Anne Rubenstein is a professor at York University and she wrote about what kinds of histories do wizards make up about themselves. How is history told and studied in the wizarding world? And she's a Latin American historian. Now, I never would have met her except for Harry Potter fandom because her field doesn't touch on mine. But I met them in Harry Potter fandom and we would talk about history and how history was presented in the wizarding world and our favorite theory about we all want Hermione to grow up and be a professional historian.
[JG and NR laugh]
NR: No, everyone reads their own pet interests into some of their favorite characters. But she is such a wonderful historian, Hermione. And so we would introduce each other and we got to know each other that way. So when the editor at Wiley approached me about putting together this book, I said, "Oh, well I know at least a dozen historians now through Harry Potter fandom that I've been having conversations with. It wasn't that hard to recruit them to write about this."
JG: Wow. Well, that's a testimony to the diversity of fandom because as you said, you've got a classicist writing about ancient tongues, you've got a medieval historian talking about the actual paper that they write these things on and all the scribes and stuff, you've got a Marxist historian talking about "Marx, Magic, and Muggles: Class Conflict in Harry Potter's World"...
NR: Oh, and from several different nations too. I mean, two of the historians were Austrians and I met them only though Harry Potter fandom.
JG: I mean, it's... oh well, folks. I'm not going to rave too much on the books. If you have the book, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't got the book, go get it. All right? I want to jump right into the heart of this...
JG: ...because Keith and I get... we get one history question, Keith. Tell me if I'm wrong here, Keith. One question that we get again and again and again is Harry/The Dark Lord. Harry/Voldemort, okay? And we've discussed this more than once, most recently in the context of Harry as a superhero comic book character. Is Voldemort a cardboard cutout or allegorical figure standing in for Adolph Hitler, the leader of the German National Socialist party? The big bad guy of all 20th century history.
NR: Yeah, no...
JG: Yeah, yeah, we'll talk about that. [laughs] Your essay on this subject in Harry Potter and History I think justifies the cost of the book on its own. On the one hand, you think the parallels are nonsensical and on the other hand you think they are undeniable. Please... I mean, this is... again, I love this part of the book. Nancy, tell them about your article inside this book.
NR: Sure, I wouldn't mind. I mean, I am a German historian and so I'd be in Harry Potter fandom and people say, "So, Voldemort. He's like Hitler, right?" and I go, "No."
[JG and NR laugh]
NR: Really, it annoys German historians. And then I thought about it because I thought, "Well, if I'm doing this book there has to be an essay on this," and I thought, "Okay, I'll set them all straight. I'll tell them what I really think." And I grappled with it some, and it is sort of a yes and a no response. Voldemort is... the parallels between Voldemort and Hitler are not exactly striking for me. Both in terms of how they control their followers, how they present themselves, how they are able to seize power, there are no parallels. Hitler was a mesmerizing public speaker and Voldemort was so horrifying looking that I think...
NR: ...he would do best to stay off the public stage. [laughs] He works through front men who are much better looking than he is. He came to power, Hitler comes to power, undoubtly as a result of the Great Depression. It's because of the economic collapse of Germany's economy and also because of a great deal of frustration - frustrated German nationalists who were not happy with the outcome of World War I - but especially because of the Great Depression and the economic turmoil that it threw Germany into is the reason the Nazis are able to become large enough and important enough in the high stock to seize power. Voldemort's rise to power owes nothing to economic collapse. So the parallels there are not exactly striking and nor is Voldemort is impressive to me as Hitler is, in a sense. I mean, in terms of the scale and the scope of what he is working on. He is trying to control a population that probably does not exceed ten thousand in number, Voldemort. Certainly not all of Europe the way Hitler was, and he barely maintains control for a year. So to compare it in terms of the scale of what Hitler was undertaking is, again, not a good comparison. So just to compare the two figures is not very persuasve, but when you compare the idealogies of their movements then the parallels become very clear. I would say Voldemort is not Hitler, and yet the Death Eaters are extremely similar in many ways to the National Socialists. So if you compare what is driving their movements idealogically and the methods that they use to establish a racial state and to control subject minority groups and to single out and persecute people and groups they see as undesirable, there the parallels are very striking. What you see in Deathly Hallows going on in the wizarding world is clearly strongly influenced by Rowling's readings of the situation of German Jews and other minority groups in Germany in the 1930s.
KH: Well, then let me ask you a question... let me ask this question to Gerardo since he's a history student as well and he studies World War II. If you don't think, Nancy, that Voldemort can be related to Hitler then I would have to say, do you think that Grindelwald is related more to Hitler in some aspects? Let me throw this over to Gerardo and ask Gerardo my question. The reason I'm saying that is Grindelwald came to power and was defeated in 1945 the same as Hitler. We have the Nurmengard prison. That is where Grindelwald was taken prisoner for all those years, and at the same time we have something very similar to that called the Nuremberg Trials which were the famous war trials of the Nazis in World War... that were held after World War II. So do you feel, Gerardo, that maybe since Nancy is saying that Voldemort and Hitler are not so similar in some regards, do you think Grindelwald fills that void?
GA: I wouldn't say entirely. I say maybe he picks up a few more aspects compared to Hitler than Voldemort, but I wouldn't entirely say that he is a direct similarity to Adolf Hitler.
KH: Okay, but I don't think you can disregard those similarities, can you?
GA: No, no, no. Those are all completely obvious.
JG: Yeah, especially the timing. You've got... as you said, Keith, there seems to be a parallel world there and... Elspeth, you are in the UK and the UK's world was largely turned upside down by their experience in the Second World War. After the war you get a whole turnover in the government and a whole other socialist state almost comes out because of the growth of government during World War II or whatever. What is... you're in the UK. Is the reading in the United Kingdom more that the Harry Potter adventure is about fighting against the Nazis? Or is it something more like the terrorists things like 9/11 or something like that? What historical parallels do you see in the UK?
EG: Well, the historical reading of the UK in World War II was that there was a period of total war where everyone was for the war efforts and there was no real organized dissent away from the government. They were all against this big, bad, evil Nazism and we will fight them on the beaches and that kind of attitude prevailed throughout the country. However, I would say that Harry Potter is not allegorist of the fight against Nazism because there is dissent. So for example, the Daily Prophet is seen as the free media but obviously becomes more and more apparent that that is the tool of the Ministry who are trying to say that everything is fine, don't worry about it, there's nothing. Oh no, wait, these people have escaped. But don't worry about it. I would say that the Harry Potter story has more to do with the IRA. Like I mentioned before, the IRA in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, where it wasn't just one event like World War II and 9/11 was, it was this continuous trouble with the IRA and separatists in Northern Ireland. It was called the war without a name. In Ireland, it was just called "the Troubles." But over here, the factories were blown up. Margaret Thatcher was nearly assassinated by them. Both of my parents were involved in bombings. And it was just something that you learnt to deal with. And I noted that in 1998, the Good Friday Agreement which basically was almost to cease fire in Ireland and with the rest of the UK. The Good Friday Agreement was 1998, that was after the Harry Potter books were starting... were being written. So I think that was... correct me if I'm wrong, but that was just before Prisoner of Azkaban came out.
JG: Right. This is fascinating. What I love here in what you're saying, Elspeth, is that because of the dissention and the confusion inside the wizarding world about the Dark Lord. That's much more parallel to the split public opinion about whether the Irish Republican Army and the separatists were patriots or terrorists or whatever than it is in the Second World War when everybody is against the big bad wolf Hitler and everybody...
JG: ...all the press and the government, everybody is on one side. Nancy, what do you think?
NR: I'm not persuaded. I think... you have to make a distinction here between if you think it's possible to read it as analogist to the IRA and the Troubles, and in that case I certainly agree that Elspeth is correct, you can read it that way. I'm not sure if it's a terrific parallel because you have to think about what is the cause of the Troubles, is the IRA is seeking to reunite Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, whether the people in Northern Ireland want it or not. And in their disrupting ordinary life and civil order in Britain in order to do that. I think... the violence that you see in Deathly Hallows is mostly interior to the wizarding world. There are occasional attacks on the Muggle world, but you get the sense that most of the violence is between wizards directed at each other. But the other reason I'm... I think you can read it the way Elspeth is reading it, but I think for Rowling when you look at her interviews and what she says were the historical parallels that she had in mind when she was writing it, she was thinking much more about Nazi Germany. I quoted an interview with her that she gave to the BBC in an essay I wrote in Harry Potter and History where she said she had visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and was very struck by the terminology that the Nazis used for people who had some Jewish ancestry who were mixed blood, and she said they were using exactly the same terminology that she had been planning to use for her wizarding world. She said that she was modeling the ideology of the pureblood extremists and the Death Eaters on Nazi Germany on the National Socialists.
KH: That might be true, but I also think that what Elspeth is saying on the IRA might be in a way of how she wrote the terroristic feelings that the characters of Harry Potter get the sense of. How scared people are that... you don't know who to trust, and as she was saying, the IRA was all about... they mixed and mingled, they could have been your next-door neighbour and yet they were for Ireland or... I'm not really sure how to say it properly other than just that they may have been the ones who attacked you when you just didn't know where it was coming from, and yet that's how it is in Harry Potter when the Death Eaters and Voldemort took over. You didn't know if somebody was under the Imperius Curse and could kill you because they were everywhere.
JG: I want to talk about that interview that you were talking about in another interview where Rowling said... someone commented that Voldemort was a half-blood and she jumped in right away and said, "Just like Hitler," meaning... I'll let you comment about that.
NR: Well, that... she was voicing a popularly shared opinion, actually. I don't think historians think that. But, no, it was popularly... she obviously had read somewhere that he had some Jewish ancestry and so she again sees this as a parallel and says, "The bullies are always projecting the thing they don't like about themselves onto their victims." There's no evidence that Hitler had any Jewish ancestry, but it is a popular myth just as there's a popular myth that for the medieval period women wore chastity belts when their husbands were away.
JG: That's right. [laughs]
NR: It's one of those unkillable mythologies. [laughs]
JG: That's right.
NR: It's like urban legend, you know? So again, she was setting up that parallel. Yeah.
JG: And your book, Harry Potter and History, talk about blowing up popular legends. I mean, I was doing backflips about some of the things that I read and I thought, "Oh yeah, that's so true. Everybody thinks that and it's not true." And then, of course, I find my own misconceptions being exposed or whatever. One of the ones that I did know that I really loved was... there's a piece in here by Birgit Wiedl.
NR: Birgit Wiedl, yeah.
JG: In which she explodes the prevalent misconception that witch burning was a medieval and a Catholic fetish that died out with the Renaissance of Information, with the advent of the Age of Reason. If anything, as you know, the opposite is the case.
NR: No, it was just getting started then. Yeah.
JG: That's right, yeah. The invention of the printing press and the publication of books like The Witch's Hammer brings on the serious and widespread persecution of witches, especially in Germany. Two questions in here. Why does the Medieval Church get such a bad rep on witch hunting when at least one pope forbade witch hunts, and when and why does the great wave of persecutions end in Europe? Again, talk about exploding myths. We all think that that's a Middle Age thing when actually it's the dawn of modernity which brings witch persecution.
NR: Oh, Harry is taught it even by Professor Binns, which is proof of what a not wonderful history teacher he is.
[JG and NR laugh]
NR: I'm not sure. I think the Medieval Period, in some ways, is a playground for different kinds of popular legends and a lot of that, you have to assign the blame to the 19th century. The 19th century writers and popular culture loved to drop these elaborate fantasies about the Medieval Period. So much of what we think we know about Medieval Europe actually comes from 19th century fantasies about it. So I think the witch burnings and the idea that the church is obsessed with burning witches in the Medieval Period comes from that. But in fact, as Birgit Wiedl talks about in her chapter, throughout most of early Christian and Medieval Christian history, they thought people who thought they were witches were usually seen as sort of deluded. Most of the church fathers said, "Well, these people are kind of crazy. You don't want to take them too seriously," or punish them because they're just deluded. And the overwhelming majority of the people who were persecuted, tortured, or burned for being witches comes after 1500 and in fact the bulk of the activity is in the late 16th and 17th century, and that is - as you pointed out - related to the growth in printing as an industry because it becomes popular to publish handbills and manuals and sort of popular literature for the masses about the Devil. And there's a whole genre of literature in 16th and 17th century Germany called Teufelsb¸cher, books about the Devil, and The Hammer of Witches is only one example. And people read that, and it's also a period of extraordinary violence and religious warfare between Catholics and Protestants. And so it seemed to many Europeans that surely this religious warfare and this upheaval and the breaking away of Protestant Europe from Catholic Europe that must be a sign that the Devil was loose in the world because who else could be inspiring so much religious violence and turmoil? And so it's the fusion of these two things happening at the same time. Religious reformation and religious warfare, and also the printing press was popular to spread these accusations and this popular literature that sort of inspires the rise of witch hunts in almost every Western European country in the 16th and 17th century.
JG: I can see some of our listeners saying, "Oh my gosh, I'm listening to people talk about the 1500s and the 1600s. What does that have to do with Harry Potter?" And yeah, every Harry Potter fan, I think, recognizes that the Statute of Secrecy, probably the defining political moment in Muggle-magical relations, takes place right at the end of the 17th century. Right?
NR: Oh, it's right at the point where the witch hunts are beginning to die under their own weight. But also, 1692 is the date of the Salem witch trials. Birgit Wiedl has an interesting theory in there. She says maybe the Salem witch trials and the publicity associated with that is what inspires the wizarding world to finally say, "That's it. We've been putting up with these witch hunts now for more than a century, it doesn't seem like it's going to end. We're going to just have to cut ourselves off from Muggle Europe." And it's not just a defining moment in Muggle-wizarding relationships. It shapes the culture and the politics of the wizarding world profoundly because from that point on everything has to be done under this cloak of secrecy that they're trying to maintain.
JG: Here's my only... I love that article and I love the book, et cetera. I love it so much that I can criticise it, pretty frankly.
NR: Sure, go for it.
JG: That article left out a huge piece of the end of the 17th century, the 1689, 1692 thing to lean on the date - Scamander's date rather than Dumbledore's date.
NR: Yes, she did.
JG: I think the Dumbledore date is... I prefer the Dumbledore date because it points to the restoration and the repression of the occultic Christian sects more... which I think is what Joanne Rowling is really after. She's saying that the Muggletonians and the Seekers and all these groups that are repressed at that time... to include the Roman Catholics, that are really just... basically the only Inner Light churches that are left are all grouped with the Quakers, and even they suffered tremendous persecution. And the rest fled to America. [laughs] All the nutters go to the United States, or to the colonies. I think that's the argument I have with the book, was that she didn't talk about the religious history so much. She talked about the colonist side of things when the larger playout I think, obviously, is the English Civil War, and how when Cromwell's government is finally thrown off and we have the princes come from what is now Germany to England, we see that repression of these essentially hermetic and occult Christian sects, which could be the wizarding world being put underground. I think that's probably why she chose that date. But that's my thought.
NR: But you know, they could both be right.
JG: Yeah, yeah. [laughs]
NR: A shift this profound that completely reshapes the culture and the politics of the wizarding world, they didn't have it in one year. Maybe Dumbledore is looking back and saying, "Yes, it really begins three years earlier, and then the Statute is passed after a period of three years of discussion and debate." It's not like they were all going to decide to do this from one month to the next.
JG: That's right. It's like Vatican, too. [unintelligible]
NR: Yeah, exactly. It was probably several years brewing.
JG: I get it.
EG: Sorry, may I chip in with something that I found out today?
JG: Please! Yeah!
EG: Well, I found out that in 1689, Cotton Mather in Massachusetts published his book, Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. And that was in 1689, and I believe that that points to - as you were saying, Nancy - a change in the attitude to witchcraft, and the fact that they became more of a threat. So it would appear that somebody of Dumbledore's intelligence would see that as a point where the wizarding world needed to go into secrecy to avoid things like the witch trials.
NR: Yeah. Well, and then what happens in Salem three years later would just put the cap on it for them.
JG: I get it, I get it. Here's another essay that blew my mind. I'm going to keep bouncing around here. Forgive me, Nancy.
NR: That's okay!
JG: I'm going to go from 17th century to Susan Hall's essay, "School Ties, House Points, and Quidditch." Now, here's my ignorance showing. And I've written a book on this! I've written a book about schoolboy fiction as one of the genres that are involved with the thing, and I really had it in my meme index here, that UK schools, public and comprehensives, corresponded more or less to American private and public high schools. Susan Hall's review of the history of what are called the 11-plus exams that largely determine the sort of schools that children went to in the United Kingdom and the lives they'd lead afterwards opened my eyes to the eleven-year-old entrance age for Hogwarts. Can you talk a little bit about that history...
JG: ...and about the way they view that history that Hall really shatters?
NR: Oh yes, although I'm sure Elspeth knows at least as much about this as I do.
NR: Actually, I forced Hall to boil it down and simplify it considerably. The original draft that she submitted was fantastically more complex. [laughs] And I said... because the history of examinations and different kinds of credentials and different forms of schooling in Britain in the last two centuries is very, very complicated. And in the late 20th century you see a series of legislative reforms that are trying to make the playing field more level. And they were also simplifying what was previously a very complex structure that had a lot of remnants from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern periods. But no, it's not like public-private. It is... American schools are mostly public and there are some private, but private is not always necessarily linked to class in the United States. For example, religious schools in the US...
NR: ...are not always necessarily wealthier people. I mean, Catholic schools...
JG: Right. [laughs]
NR: ...that's for darn sure. And in Britain the ranking is not only the difference between public - which is really private schools and what they call state schools - but also within state schools there are grammar schools, some of them founded in the Medieval or Early Modern Period, that are entranced through very competitive examinations. And so there is a kind of a stratification that at the age of eleven people would take these tests that, if you wanted to get into a grammar school in the earlier part of the 20th century, you had to do very well in those tests. And Susan Hall said between 15 and 20 per cent of the children placed into grammar schools where they could be prepared to go to university, or for professional careers, and the rest went to a school where they would often leave by the age of fifteen or sixteen without any such qualification. And she talks a lot about the class tensions, that if you go to a grammar school but you are from a poorer family - she compares that to Tom Riddle - you are pulled up into a school and put into a school based on your ability and on your intelligence, but you don't have the same financial support and you don't have the same class background as many of your classmates. I thought that was an interesting set of parallels she had.
JG: Oh, it was fascinating! Elspeth, tell us about the 11-plus exam. Did your mom take the 11-plus exam? Did you take the 11-plus exam?
EG: Yes, my mother and my father took the 11-plus unfortunately... well, I say unfortunately. I'm too young to have taken it. They replaced it with something called the SAT exams, which is what you take to get into secondary school. But however, what public school means in the UK is it means a long established school independent of the church. So for example, King's School in Canterbury was founded in 597 but that's a church school, so Winchester College was independent of the church and it was founded in 1382. A private school is more of a fee-paying school without the establishment, so a private school could be set up tomorrow and it couldn't call itself a public school. And state schools. [laughs] Basically everything else is lumped into a state school. But I do definitely see the Tom Riddle and his approach to school, the fact that it is something that is based on ability, which is something that wasn't really apparent in the UK until the 19th century when board schools were introduced and they were paid for by the board of education. So it becomes...
EG: Yes, sorry? [laughs]
JG: I'm interrupting. Elspeth, is everyone in the UK, when they hear that Harry Potter is going to school at eleven years old, are they going to make this connection between the grammar schools of old or whatever?
EG: Yeah, yeah, everyone. Rather than elementary and middle school, we have primary school which is from five to eleven years old, then you have secondary school which is eleven to sixteen, and then sixth form which is sixteen to eighteen, and then after that university or other forms of education such as a traineeship. So yeah, Harry Potter going to school at eleven years old and going away to school, to boarding school, is less so much about the English school system. It very much puts it into that tradition of boarding schools, so stuff like Malory Towers written by Enid Blyton and the Jennings stories.
JG: Right, the Greyfriars and all these things. But Rowling, if you read her interviews - and sadly I think I've read too many of them [laughs] - she talks about this and she says she has been accused of being a shill for these public schools, the old established, very class orientated schools, and she says that she hates those things. She is very proud that she went to a comprehensive, even though she had a difficult time there. She talks about her experiences at comprehensives. Even though she was a great success as a student, it wasn't always a very happy thing for her. But she said that, no, she doesn't recommend that people go to boarding schools and that she isn't going to send her own children to boarding schools. Reading Susan Hall's article on this... again I had my own ideas about this stuff, just exploded. She wrote another piece, Susan Hall wrote another piece - I think she's the one who got two pieces in this - and this one is called "Marx, Magic, and Muggles" and in it she all but accuses Joanne Rowling of being an elitist with class issues because of her despair...
NR: Yeah, I know you thought that. No, I didn't read it that way.
JG: Okay, wait. She...
NR: I thought... okay, I think she... you have to be careful to sort out between what she would attribute to Rowling - the author's own feelings about class - or the way the critique that Susan Hall has of class structure in the wizarding world.
NR: I mean, she's critical, very critical, about the way that magic structures their economy in a way that leaves very little room for upward class mobility and that doesn't mean she thinks Rowling is elitist. She thinks that's how magic works out. I mean, it's a really interesting argument she makes where she talks about technology in the wizarding world is vestigial. Okay? The Hogwarts Express is one of the very few examples...
NR: ...you see of anything...
JG: Yeah, seriously.
NR: ...that seems to be an industrial product.
JG: Right, that part of the article was brilliant. I mean, the fact that there's almost no way that there's a real steam engine that's operating in the magical world.
NR: Yeah, who would have manufactured it? It couldn't possibly be. So she... but it's a bridging device. It's something that you can have Muggle-born children get on and it's a recognizable object to them, although it probably looks very old fashioned and historical. But it's a device... it's a way of transporting them all to Hogwarts whereas you couldn't have them all go through the Floo or something because they wouldn't know what that is. So it's a bridging device, but whether it's a real steam engine I don't know. But she says, look, in the Muggle world you had all kinds of industrial and scientific and technological developments in the 19th century. You had the emergence of factory production. You had all kinds of new transportation. You had railways. You had other kinds of developments that created paths for upward mobility for generations of people who could study to become engineers or study to become attorneys or school teachers in the vast public school system... state school system that was established. And all of these paths are foreclosed in the wizarding world. I mean, magic - the availability of magic - means that they don't need much technological innovation. She has a good line in there that "dark alleys breed dark lords."
JG: Yeah. [laughs]
NR: For an ambitious young man like Tom Riddle, there really is almost no way up. It's not like he can... there isn't much upward social mobility, and at the very top of the hierarchy you have these very old pureblood families that look down on anyone who hasn't been part of their in-group for centuries. And so because of this lack of possibility to improve yourself and better yourself... I mean, the Weasley twins are almost the only people we see in the whole series who have found a way to raise themselves in the world, and not everybody can sell jokes and novelties.
NR: I mean, that's not going to be a viable career path for more than a few people. And because of this, she thinks that there's a constant source of social struggle and dissatisfaction on the part of people who cannot rise. I think the part where she's a little bit critical of Rowling is I don't think she liked the accents that were attributed to some of the working class characters.
JG: Absolutely. That's what I was about to say.
NR: But she also says that's a convention of boarding school novels. I think she also saw it as part of the literary genre that the Harry Potter series is part of. People who are from working class or lower class backgrounds are always very strongly marked by their accents in those novels.
JG: Yeah, you're right on all those counts and I agree with her especially on that last that a great deal of what Rowling writes inside the Harry Potter novels is because the architecture of the books is within the genre of the schoolboy novel.
NR: Yeah, they're boarding school novels. Yeah.
JG: Something that I really loved about that article and others was the discussion of the government's role in Harry Potter...
JG: ...about how it seems almost everybody who's anybody... when they do the vocational testing or whatever - vocational advisory sessions with McGonagall and stuff - is all about what section of the government...
NR: The careers are all in the Ministry! Right!
JG: That's right.
NR: That's what I mean. It's the only road up, the only path up, for anyone socially and economically, is through the Ministry. And that's... Susan Hall has a good chapter on that and so did Janice Liedl who wrote about the historical development of the British government and its magical counterparts and the Wizengamot and how that's parallel to the Witenagemots of early English history.
JG: Yeah, can you talk about that? That article "Magic is Might" is a wow. Okay.
NR: Yes, it is wonderful. I thought she did a terrific job with it.
JG: I really enjoyed the discussion there about how the resistance of the Hogwarts' faculty to the Ministry's oversight under Umbridge was an echo of school board resistance to government interference with their programs and authority in World War II. Elspeth, do you know anything about this? This is... that she... Janice Liedl, in this article, "Magic is Might", argues that that whole adventure in Order of the Phoenix is largely a historical parallel with what happens in the UK when the school boards... we think of school boards as really being just a function of government, but apparently in the UK, until the Second World War, the school boards really ran the show. Am I wrong here?
EG: No, I don't think you're wrong there at all. I think the fact that Umbridge is the most evil character in the book also shows it's because she does interfere with the running of the school, and she makes the school less pure in its wholly educational front and she makes it more like the training ground for the Ministry of Magic which - as you said - it kind of already was, but it's more overtly so. I would say this is more to do with the government - in the UK, especially - becoming... there's less of an idea of privacy in the UK. I mean, for example, I think there are more CCTV cameras per square meter in London than there are anywhere else in the world. And that's just something that, in the UK, you grow up and you deal with. So when somebody comes in and takes it a step further, it's another form of social repression. So once the government starts mixing in with the school board, you start getting things like banned books and anti-intellectualism and it becomes more of a fascist state, almost. And I think that going back to what we were talking about before, that goes back into more of the Nazi allegory I've found within the books.
NR: It's also, I think, because the Statute of Secrecy gave the Ministry of Magic a permanent excuse of national security. It converts it almost to a national security state centuries before it could happen in the Muggle world.
JG: Right. Wow, that's great.
NR: And local authorities are much better at resisting central authority from London because it's a much larger country. It's a population of tens of millions. It's much harder to control. But you have all of these national institutions in the wizarding world. I mean, there's the Aurors and the Magical Law Enforcement. It's one culture-wide law enforcement agency, whereas you don't have a single national police force in Britain. And there's a lack of civil society in the wizarding world that, again, plays up to a more powerful government system. Civil society is that part of our culture and our society which is not the family, not the church, and not the state. It's private citizens, organizations, it's hobbyist groups. And there's just an absolute dearth of civil society in the wizarding world. I mean, the Ministry of Magic runs things that in our world would be run by some private organization, like even sports. So you have a very powerful state there. And it ends up stifling a lot of the other parts of the economy, in my opinion.
JG: I want to go back to Hogwarts Express thing because it's so much of a fixture inside the books, and yet it's an intentional anachronism inside the thing. And I thought to myself when reading Susan Hall's article, what would these books be like if we didn't have that transitional place and scene? I mean, it's obviously the only steam engine that's operating in all of the United Kingdom, and yet it's invisible.
[EG and NR laugh]
JG: Nobody makes a note of this thing going through the Scottish countryside.
JG: Gerardo, what would be your... would you... I don't know about you, but I fantasize - I've had dreams - about getting on the Hogwarts Express.
GA: Oh yeah, definitely.
JG: Can you imagine the story without that touch? Even though there's no coal mines and there's no house-elves shoveling this coal in there or whatever. This is not something that really works inside the wizarding world, but it somehow works inside the story.
GA: Yeah, I can't...
JG: Elspeth... go ahead.
GA: I was going to say I can't see the story being the same if they had just maybe Apparated from their house into Hogwarts.
JG: That's right.
GA: It wouldn't have been the same.
JG: Floo Powder.
KH: Yeah, to Floo Powder network into it.
JG:[laughs] Elspeth, is it true that there are really aren't any working steam engines in the United Kingdom?
EG: Oh, no. Absolutely not. I've actually been to where they filmed the Hogwarts station, in Goathland in a place near Whitby which is in Yorkshire, north of England. And there they have steam engines running. It's more of a nostalgic thing and I can see that appealing to the wizarding community, this nostalgia, for a time before, which is why although they have the radio they call it the wireless which is a very old fashioned term for it. So it's going back to that fantasy realm where you were not within the 20th century anymore. You are going back more towards a place where medieval history still has a purchase in your modern education.
JG: That's great. You talked about it, Nancy, earlier, was that somehow the 19th century and these ideas that the gothic, these romantic ideas of the medieval period, bleed into everything that we get at Hogwarts. Do you think that's also sort of like the 20th centuries, rewriting of the 19th century history? That somehow the train is now romantic, when the train before was the devil to the romantics?
NR: Well, I think you can look at it both ways. If you're standing from a point of view inside the series and you're thinking, "What is the point of the steam train?" as we all said, it's a bridging device for the Muggle-born students. Their parents can put them on a train and the parents will think, "Gee, that's one weird looking train," but it is a train and they know what it is.
NR: Nobody would know what the Floo Network was and you wouldn't want to send your child through that. But if you're looking at it from outside the series, the Hogwarts Express is one of several examples where I think she uses bits of history to heighten the atmosphere of the magical. Why have them use, for example... I loved Alexandra Gillespie's chapter on parchment and books and quills and the way that information is transmitted and stored in the wizarding world. She had a lovely chapter on that. And she asked, why use parchment? I mean quills, ink, parchment, scrolls, the whole technology of the book is deliberately presented in a really archaic, medieval way in Harry Potter's world. Or the wireless, as Elspeth just pointed out. Wireless is a 1920s and '30s term because they would refer to it... because the very first radios actually had wires. People would sit around with these little wires running from the box to the headphone that they would all hold against their ears. So when they managed to make a radio that operated wirelessly, that was really cool because then you didn't have to sit there with all the... everyone sitting in a circle around the radio with little wires running out of the box at them, and so they called it a wireless. It's an archaic terminology, and she uses little bits and pieces of technology and objects from different centuries to sort of give it... make it more magical. It works. I mean, she uses history as a kind of low level magical effect throughout the series.
KH: Well, here's another example of this, is not only the Hogwarts Express but how about the Knight Bus. I don't know if many people really realize this, but the Knight Bus is actually based... in JKR's words, okay, is that the idea came from the Minister of Magic back in 1865 to imitate Muggle transportation. Now, when I first read this I was saying, "1865? There was no motorized vehicles like this." But no, she took it from the taxis of the 19th century... sorry, not the taxis... the bus service of the 19th century and used it from that. Basically what she was saying was that the Ministry of Magic would sometimes use the Muggles for inspiration. So when you were mentioning the Hogwarts Express, yeah that obviously came from the Muggle world as well but this idea of the Knight Bus also came from there.
NR: Well, so do the house-elves as Victorian servants. [laughs]
JG: Yeah. [laughs]
NR: I mean, a lot of the way that the households of the great pureblood families are organized is absolutely modeled on great Victorian aristocratic households as well, down to the peacock strutting on the front lawn of Malfoy Manor.
JG:[laughs] You mentioned Alexandra Gillespie's article, which is called "Beastly Books and Quick Quills: Harry Potter and the Making of Medieval Manuscripts," and she describes real valamin parchment manufacturing, and I loved her discussion of penning and publication in Harry's adventures in and outside of Hogwarts. I mean, I learned a lot about the codex - what we call a book - and even why I dislike these e-texts, things like Kindle and stuff. She implies, I think... maybe I misread this again, Nancy. [laughs] She implies that Ms. Rowling's medieval writing in the saga is an expression of her hope of a reviving or fostering...
JG: ...traditional paper writing and book making. We know that Rowling writes her books by hand, and even wrote, illustrated, and bound herself her giveaway copies of Beedle the Bard. Am I making this up?
NR: No, no, I'm sure that that's what Professor Gillespie was saying and I'm hoping she's right. She's a very well-known Renaissance historian who teaches at the University of Toronto and her specialty is the very early history of printing and the early history of the book and medieval libraries and book collections. She knows a lot about that. And she sees the love of the codex. The codex is a bound book, it's a book with leaves as opposed to a scroll that you unroll. And she really is interested and explores the way in which you see both scrolls and bound books in Harry's world, and yet they're using extremely ancient technologies to produce both of them. The choice of using parchment instead of paper...
NR: ...for so much of what they write on when you know that parchment is in fact animal skin. It was preferred in the medieval period because it's more durable than paper. Paper will someday crumble whereas parchment lasts, but it lasts because it's specially treated, thinned animal skin. And if it gets wet it often reverts to its former beastly shape, it looks more like animal skin.
NR: And that reminded me of the Monster Book of Monsters that comes alive and starts snapping. I wondered if Harry had gotten it wet [laughs] which made it revert to its beastly shape.
JG:[laughs] That's right, it was originally dragon skin. I love it. That's wonderful. Anyway, this kind of thing is what makes this book so special. And we're talking about articles on everything from the ancient languages behind the spells to actual... a world expert on vellum manuscripts talking about parchments and why Rowling would be after that, and surveying the entire [unintelligible]. All of these historians are also Potter Pundits of the first order. What I loved about the writing of the articles was that oftentimes they would talk about the Muggle world and the wizarding world in parallel, as if they were just as real as the other one, and talk about them back and forth.
NR: Yes, that was part of our conceit in writing it. Yes.
JG: Oh, it was so well done. There was nothing quiche about it. You have to have a real mastery of both subjects in order to pull that off without it seeming like it's just a cute little device. And I was chuckling throughout every one of these articles, just loving it.
NR: We wanted to make it fun. In a way, you could see the entire book is implicitly meant to be a refutation of Professor Binns.
NR: I mean, his greatest sin is that he takes things that should be fascinating and manages to put all of his pupils to sleep. So we were trying to say, look, there's an enormous amount of real history built into Harry Potter because it's impossible to create any imaginary world simply from pulling it out of nothing. All great writers build in chunks of history into their imaginary worlds, and that's always in the backdrop. And so we wanted to say, look, this is really fun. You can go in and unpack all the real historical things that are in Harry's world. A lot of people who read this book didn't know before they read it that bezoars were in fact real magical objects. So many of the spells and magical objects and practices that Harry learns about at Hogwarts come out of the history of real European magic. And Birgit Wiedl collected so many photographs of bezoars from Viennese museums.
NR: Because she lives in Vienna, okay? She's a historian at the University of Salzburg, and Eveline Brugger, her friend, teaches at the University of Vienna and they went on sort of a spree taking photograph after photograph of bezoars in the various Viennese museums, each of them set in these elaborate, beautiful settings of silver and gold and jewels because medieval and early modern emperors and kings and aristocrats collected bezoars. It was a collectible. And they would just collect bezoars and then they would have them set into gorgeous gold and silver filigree settings. And so there are museums in Vienna that are just full of shelves of these things. They must have taken twenty photos, and I finally had to say, no, we can only use two in the book.
[JG and NR laugh]
NR: We had to narrow it down to two of the photos that would reproduce best for the book. But it was fun.
JG: And the book is a lot of fun. You mentioned Professor Binns, and forgive me for assuming that Joanne Rowling did not have a lot of fun studying history in school, that she thought it was just dreadfully boring, because here's a professor that's died and doesn't even know he's dead.
NR: He's the literal dead white male. [laughs]
JG: That's right! It's dead white male history. But let's say that Nancy Reagin gets an appointment, you're an adjunct professor now, for a term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What class do you teach there? Forget the OWLs, the NEWTs, what do you want to share historically with witches and wizards at Hogwarts? And I'm going to throw this out to you guys, too, out there. Keith, get ready. I want to hear what history class you want to...
NR: Well, I think it would really be fun to use magical technologies to make teaching history more interesting. That's what really strikes me, is that Binns has all of these magical technologies at his disposal and he makes use of none of them. I mean, Pensieves alone would revolutionize the teaching of history. You can show people how it looked in the past from the point of view of the actual participant. And he's not using this, okay? He doesn't use...
JG: Wait a minute. Nancy, you want a Pensieve swimming pool so the entire class can dive in.
JG:[laughs] I love it!
NR: I would have an archive of memories and I would get the students to immerse themselves in them, selectively. It would be much better than a PowerPoint presentation during a lecture.
JG:[laughs] Elspeth, do you have a magical device you would use for the teaching of history? This is great. How about a Time-Turner?
JG: I think a Time-Turner would be a great thing. Spin that thing a hundred thousand times and go back to the Statute of Secrecy hearings; let's watch it!
EG: Oh, you'd be standing around the Time-Turner for a long time though, wouldn't you?
[EG and JG laugh]
EG: I think I'd... what I would like to have seen was more of the magical artifacts coming in. So for example, it's like... the Hand of Glory is a real thing. I've actually seen one, again, on the same trip that I went to the Hogwarts station. I've seen a Hand of Glory in a museum in Whitby. So if Professor Binns used more of these artifacts from history, I think it would have just made it... it would have just brought in the idea of a primary source, which is so important with history. And it's like the difference between seeing something in a Pensieve and seeing something in a PowerPoint. It's the difference between seeing something on television, somebody with a First World War rifle in their hand on television, and seeing someone bring in a First World War rifle into class. It suddenly makes everything more immediate, and I think that would have improved the history teaching... the history lessons tenfold.
JG: Yeah, why doesn't he just walk around the castle? I mean, the only interesting class he gives in Harry's seven years is about the Chamber of Secrets, and, of course, he doesn't go to the Chamber; no one knows where it is. But there's all sorts of things that... he could go to the Quidditch stadium and talk about the history of Quidditch. He's got the book right there. He could go to the Great Hall and talk about the years... the Quidditch World Cup, and maybe the background to the Triwizard Tournament, which is a big historical collection of things. Gerardo, do you have any history classes that you would like? Would you like to have some veterans of the war with Grindelwald come in and talk about "Volde-var One" and "Volde-var Two"?
GA: Oh yeah, definitely. To be able to get into the Pensieve and be able to see their memories and their dreams from that period...
JG: Yeah, how about... Dumbledore's got to have memories of his dueling thing with Grindelwald. I'd pay to see that.
GA: Oh yeah, definitely.
NR: You wonder if there were any eyewitnesses to that.
KH: Do you have anything else, Gerardo?
GA: And just maybe sitting in the hallways talking to the ghosts as they're going by. The paintings...
JG: Bingo! That's great!
KH: There you go. There you go.
NR: I wonder if you could get a ghost to donate to a Pensieve, or if they're capable of doing that.
JG: Oh, wow!
NR: You could go around and interview every ghost, and if you can get them to withdraw something from their head - you know, put it in a little flask - I would be collecting memories from every ghost in the castle.
GA: Yeah, exactly.
JG: Oh my goodness. Can you imagine the Fat Friar talking to you about... [laughs] that would be spectacular. When Henry the Eighth takes all the monasteries and convents or whatever, the Fat Friar was probably there! That's spectacular.
KH: I'll tell you what mine would be. It would be to have some guest speakers come in. You know, you had Nicolas Flamel for so many years, 665 before he died...
NR: That's right.
JG:[laughs] There you go! Wow!
KH: But you also have the ghosts. So you have Helena Ravenclaw, who can talk about all kinds of stuff from a thousand years ago. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, from the 16th century... or 15th century... it's 15th century, right? 15th century. So yeah, I would have guest speakers come in and tell their stories.
JG: How about Severus Snape? Everyone knows he's a repentant Death Eater. I'd call him in and say, "Hey, tell us what it was like to be in the presence of the Dark Lord." Would that be an all hands on deck history class with Professor Binns, to have Severus Snape giving his memories from the Pensieve there about what it was like to face the Dark Lord?
NR: Oh, I think he would take your head off.
KH: I don't think he'd share a thing.
NR: Are you kidding? He'd bite your head off for asking.
JG: Oh! I know, but... forgive me.
NR: Can you imagine the snarls and the scene in the staff room that evening?
NR: But I think it would be interesting also, though, to note that wizarding people are much longer-lived than Muggles, so you don't even have to wait for the ghosts. You could call... Dumbledore himself was born in the 19th century and you could call in people who had lived one hundred, one hundred and fifty years before to talk about the changes it had made. It's so clear that within the last century there's been a lot more intermarriage between Muggle-born and pureblood. It's clear that around the time Dumbledore was born there were a lot more purebloods than there are now. And Ron says to Hermione, "There are now very few pureblood families," right?
NR: And you could have people come in and talk about how has that transition happened? How has wizarding culture changed in the last century?
KH: Here's a great guest for you, how about Bathilda Bagshot herself?
JG: How about it?
EG: Oh, yes.
JG: She's an historian. How about this, Nancy and Gerardo? It's just a thought. We see in the Ministry of Magic that we have the Hall of Prophecy and they've saved all these prophecies. Do you think there might be a place where they've preserved the memories of many of these people? Much like how Snape does a brain dump right at the end in the Shrieking Shack and throws out all of his memories, do you think that might actually be a common practice among those people who are dying to throw out all of their memories so people can study them?
KH: Go ahead, Gerardo.
GA: I was going to say, I wouldn't think the Ministry would do that. I think people, maybe, on their own would do that and it would be kept inside the families.
KH: Passed down.
NR: Like a family Bible, yeah. Actually, what it reminds me of - if you'll excuse the comparison with Star Trek - is the Katra when Vulcans are dying, that they surrender their Katra and that that's stored.
JG: Hey, that's great. And wouldn't you think that every family would want a Pensieve? I mean, just for disputes about... my memory is terrible and my wife's is very good, but sometimes I would actually like to see her pull the memory out so I can go back and say, "Did it really happen that way?" Anyway...
NR: You wouldn't need marriage counselors, you would just have a Pensieve. [laughs]
JG:[laughs] That's right. It didn't happen the way she said it happened. That's great. All right. This is the part where we get to the end of the program here and we talk about... we're obviously all really serious Harry Potter fans and it's changed our lives, but we always close the show with the question: Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had never met the Boy Who Lived? Elspeth, let's start with you here. You were nine years old, do you remember a time when you didn't know Harry Potter very well?
EG:[laughs] Yes, I do, and my life was adrift, basically. I'd had a lot of undirected love of basically films and television, and it was when Harry Potter first came around, along the same time... I hate to say the name, but Lord of the Rings, when those films came around, combined with Harry Potter on the literacy front and Lord of the Rings on literacy, it definitely focused my obsessions into two very definite points and, without those, I don't think I would have had the building blocks and the need for more information about how Harry Potter was developed and written and filmed. More importantly, I wouldn't have developed my love of film in such a focused way that I could now be studying film and television studies at the University of Glasgow.
JG: Wow. Gerardo, what would your life be like if Harry had been the Boy Who Died instead of the Boy Who Lived?
GA: Oh, I don't know. A lot more hectic.
GA: I can't imagine anything other than my family with something else that put more... taught me more values than, honestly, Harry Potter did.
KH: Well, here's a question for you, Gerardo. Earlier in the show, Professor Reagin basically said that, as a history buff, she read the books through the eye as a history teacher, just like philosophy teachers would read the books through the eye of philosophy. Now that you're a student of history, do you see the books more as a history student than what you maybe did originally? Or did you see that history growing up and wanted to learn that because of something like the Harry Potter series?
GA: When I first read the books, I wasn't that into history. It wasn't until later in my life that I developed a love for history and then I went back and I watched the movies, and watching the movies was when it really... the history really popped out at me.
KH: So when you start reading about Professor Binns's class and the burning of the witches and all that, you start to understand what's going on at that point in time? Like the Werewolf Code of Conduct, you can understand, okay, in 1637 this is what was happening in that world.
GA: Yeah, yeah, I can piece that together.
JG: Nancy, what's...
NR: Oh, I'm trying to think. I think my own values were pretty well formed...
NR: ...by the time I came to Harry Potter[laughs] because I think I was 43 when I first read it, but my life would be so much poorer. I'm struck by how many of my closest friends now I met through Harry Potter fandom. Maybe... I don't know, perhaps I would have become like Professor Binns - I would have only lived in the classroom.
[JG and NR laugh]
NR: I would have existed only in my classroom. But it really brought me... my children were getting older, were in school, and I was ready to broaden and get involved in things outside of just my job and my kids, and it brought me into a world where I made extremely dear friends. A few years later, when I turned 50, I had a weekend-long house party and people came from a number... you know, all over North America, actually. They flew in and we had a three-day house party. And there were eight women who came, and I had met them all through Harry Potter fandom. Most of them were historians, they ended up writing chapters for the book.
NR: And so it's... my personal life would be infinitely poorer without it. And the other thing it taught me though was by joining the Harry Potter fandom and seeing all the amazing activities that people pursued, it really inspired me by allowing me to see how creative people can be. Modern fandoms have given people an opportunity because they can connect through the Internet and they can participate in so many different parts of the fan community. It gives them an opportunity to practice arts and crafts, they make costumes, they create sports and sports leagues. They make music, they write fiction, they do poetry, they do fan art. They write historical essays if they're historians. But it showed me how much creativity can be inspired in us by a really wonderful, unique set of stories. That's what it really taught me. I was amazed at how such a powerful piece of literature in turn could spark off so much creative activity in so many people. That's what it taught me.
KH: That's great, I love that.
JG: That's great. We're not going to close on a better note than that, Keith, because here's our little creative endeavour here, this podcast, and she's right.
NR: And podcasts too, yes.
JG: We certainly wouldn't be here except for the original inspiration.
KH: That's right.
NR: It inspires everyone to bring their own form of art, or their own creative endeavour, to the table.
KH: Yeah, in fact just this past Sunday our MuggleNet Audiofictions team had a live reading of a fanfic to kick off this season. So the whole MerMuggles team was on YouTube in the Google Chat area and they did a full live reading of this fanfic. And it was actually a really good fanfic. So folks out there, if you haven't had a chance to listen to any of these fanfics and you're interested in doing so, what a better way than to hear a live one read with the different voices of Harry, Ron, and Hermione being used? And it was really an interesting show to say the least. So John, I think that we're all done with this show. I do want to tell everybody that's listening that if you want to, the chat system on MuggleNet is now working. So, it has been down for about the past year. But if you go to MuggleNet, click on the Discussion tab and then click on the chat area, you can go into the chat. There's a trivia section in there that's fun to play, and there's also a chat area where you can discuss shows like MuggleNet Academia with other fans and start getting a discussion going on what you're listening to right now. Also, I want to tell you that you can download MuggleNet Academia on your mobile device. Simply go to iTunes if you have an iOS device like iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Download the app called Podcast Box, and then search for MuggleNet Academia and download the MuggleNet Academia section. Or if you're on an Android mobile device, simply go over to Amazon.com and click on the app for MuggleNet Academia there. We haven't had a bonus feature in a while, but I will be releasing a new bonus feature as I am going to be interviewing Cecilia Konchar Farr who is from St. Catherine and she runs a course called "Six Degrees of Harry Potter." Just going to be discussing some of the basics of the class and what she teaches in the school. And we'll put that available on as a bonus feature very soon, so get on over and listen to that by downloading the podcast app. Other than that, we'd like to see everybody if they can make it to Potterwatch 2013, the Quidditch World Cup, and MISTI-Con. So before we get out of here, I do want to say thank you very much to Professor Nancy Reagin of Pace University for joining us on the show. Nancy, it's been great having you.
NR: It was my pleasure, and it's been a long time since I had such a great conversation.
KH: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy listening to the podcast when it comes out. Also joining us today were two student guests. Elspeth Gordon-Smith, I absolutely love your family and thank you so much for joining us today, Elspeth.
EG: Well again, thank you for having me. Like Nancy said, it was a very good conversation that we just had and hopefully I managed to contribute intelligently. [laughs]
KH: You did very well. And also, doing a very good job was Gerardo Alvarez of Buffalo State. Gerardo, did you enjoy yourself?
GA: Oh, definitely. I just want to say thanks for having me, and it was great just to be able to absorb everything.
KH: Not a problem at all. I know it's kind of tough for some of us to get some student input in there. You've kind of got to just jump out there once in a while [laughs] and say...
KH: ..."Hey, let me get my input in here!"
NR: You need sharp elbows.
[GA and NR laugh]
[Show music begins]
KH: Yeah, you've got to really jump in the show when you're a student on this show. But again, thank you very much. And that'll do it for this show. So, thank you very much for listening to the show. From MuggleNet.com, my name is Keith Hawk.
JG: I'm John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor and author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures.
NR: I'm Nancy Reagin, Professor of History at Pace University and editor of Harry Potter and History.
EG: And I'm Elspeth Gordon-Smith, student at the University of Glasgow.
GA: And I'm Gerardo Alvarez, student at Buffalo State.