“So Teach Us Things Worth Knowing” in Real-Life “Harry Potter” Courses
Doesn’t every Harry Potter fan dream of receiving their Hogwarts acceptance letter, boarding the Hogwarts Express, and learning alongside other witches and wizards, studying Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall and Defense Against the Dark Arts with Mad-Eye Moody (we wouldn’t even mind sitting in a Potions class taught by Professor Snape!)?
While we might not actually be able to go to Hogwarts, perhaps the next best thing is learning that there are real-life Harry Potter courses that take place in the Muggle world, taught by Muggles, to Muggles. Let’s take a closer look at these magical courses.
The University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, offers “Retro Reading” courses through its Honors College that focus on “classic texts, institutions, and concepts viewed through a contemporary, multidisciplinary lens” in weekly, seminar-style discussions. Next semester, one of the courses being offered is a Harry Potter course. Led by Chelsea Hodge, Honors College Director of Grants and Research Innovation (and resident Harry Potter expert), the course will examine the Harry Potter books in detail.
This includes analyzing J.K. Rowling’s treatment of race, class, and gender as well as how the books have influenced today’s society and culture. As a nod toward Rowling’s controversial online statements regarding the transgender community, it will also attempt to answer the question “Can an artistic product be separated from its creator? And if it can, should it?”
The University of Central Florida
Dr. Tison Pugh, a Pegasus Professor of English at Orlando’s University of Central Florida, teaches a course called Harry Potter Studies. The course encourages students to read all seven Harry Potter books and in doing so, challenges them to take part in analytical writing and become better thinkers.
The conversations that took place during this course led to Pugh writing Harry Potter and Beyond, which explores how the novels use and manipulate a range of genres.
The Harry Potter Conference
Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosts an annual nonprofit academic Harry Potter conference, providing a forum for scholarly presentations about the book series. Members of the public can attend the event for free and are asked to provide a donation on registration.
The last conference took place virtually in October 2020 and included a live discussion with some of MuggleNet’s own staff: Ghosts of Fandom Past, Present, and Future: MuggleNet on the Changing Face of Harry Potter Fandom.
Another course that used to be taught but is no longer provided is a class in Harry Potter law at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata, India. Durham University in England also used to offer a module titled Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion. It aimed to place the Harry Potter series into a social, cultural, and educational context while considering its relevance in the 21st-century education system.
What do you think about these spellbinding courses? Do any of them take your fancy, or do you think you’ll wait just a little bit longer before trying one out, just in case that magical letter arrives?