“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 31: “Books! And Cleverness! The Harry Potter Academic Conference at Chestnut Hill College”

Eavesdrop on our conference conversation recorded at Chestnut Hill College!



This episode showcases both the new and the enduring trends in Harry Potter scholarship, as seen at the Harry Potter Academic Conference at Chestnut Hill College in October 2019. Katy and Emily talk with a panel of scholars who organized, attended, and/or presented at the conference: Laurie Beckoff, Lauren Camacci, Elise Trudel Cedeño, Louise Freeman, Patrick McCauley, Kat Sas, Karen Wendling, and Lana Whited.

We talk about the ways presenters found new insights in character studies (of Professor McGonagall, Luna Lovegood, Dolores Umbridge) and thematic studies (models of education, medieval tropes, house-elf liberation), how they embraced new methodologies (digital humanities, geography) and asked new questions (Why are love potions feminized? Where did Rowling get her understanding of Cormoran Strike’s injury?), and how they considered not just the books but also the films (including Fantastic Beasts) and fan works. Many presentations connected Rowling’s stories with the world we are living in today. Where is Potter scholarship headed? Why are these stories still so relevant to us? We share our thoughts on general trends in the field, as witnessed in the variety of topics presented year-to-year.

Join us for a fun and varied roundtable conversation about the research presented at the conference and our experience of the event, which has become a kind of pilgrimage site for fans and aca-fans.

Please join the conversation via email (ReadingWritingRowling@gmail.com), Twitter (ReadWriteRowl), or our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you.

Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.