“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 3: “Tracy Bealer: Oppression and Subversion in ‘Harry Potter'”
Have you ever wondered about the power of relationships in the wizarding world? In our third episode, John Granger and Katy McDaniel talk with Dr. Tracy Bealer (assistant professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College) about oppression and subversion in the Harry Potter series.
J.K. Rowling is attentive to the political dimensions of the wizarding world, including Hogwarts and magical political institutions. Throughout the Harry Potter novels, Rowling explores the development of independent critical thought, ethics of power within communities, and spiritual resilience in the context of a politically charged, highly regulated society.
Dr. Bealer reveals to us the power dynamics of wizarding institutions like the Ministry of Magic and Azkaban Prison, as well as the lessons in radical reading and resistance to oppressive power that Hogwarts students (and Harry Potter readers) learn over the course of the series. How should we read problematic texts? How do we remain independent within oppressive power systems? Why might magic wands actually undermine wizard autonomy? And most surprisingly, how can we look differently at Dementors (yes, Dementors) to recognize them as creatures weaponized and oppressed by wizarding society?