“Potterversity” Episode 15: “Film, Fandom, and Podcasting in Academia”

Get a little “meta” in this episode about Harry Potter fandom and pop culture podcasting!



In this episode, Emily and Katy talk with film and fandom scholar – and fellow podcaster – Michael Boyce, professor of English literature and film studies at Booth University College and host of the Geek 4 podcast. We investigate how the Harry Potter films have affected our fandom and explore podcasting about popular culture from within the “ivory tower” of academia.

Were you first attracted to the Harry Potter world through the films or the books? Michael explains how he came to be a Potter fan and his early experiences of the fandom. We discuss how the actors’ interpretations in the films (ahem, Sir Michael Gambon) change the way we understand the characters and how directorial cuts affect our memories of the narrative. Have these interpretations become canon, or do the films exist in a kind of alternate universe? Different directors have also created distinct interpretations and even tones for the various books, and we consider how that influences the movies’ coherence as a series. Michael explains that the films have provided easier points of access to the wizarding world for fans and have created clearer images of the characters, which certainly has had consequences for fan reactions to casting decisions and fan creative productions.

Michael helps us analyze the unique (and not-so-unique) qualities of the Harry Potter fandom, and we consider the marketing of Wizarding World products to the multi-generational fan community. We talk about fandom as a target (and even creation) of late-stage capitalism and the way fans show our loyalty and love for pop culture through our wallets. Sometimes fan-based products, like toys, have even spoiled major plot points – LEGO, we’re looking at you! Michael tells us about fan gatekeepers and the joys of excluding others on the basis of fan purism. Is there a hierarchy in the Potter fandom based on the Hogwarts Houses? What do you think?

Michael talks about his podcast, Geek 4, which interviews people about their fandoms and engages with the geeky, academic side of a variety of fandoms, from sci-fi to sports. We discuss the benefits of podcasting for both creators and listeners, especially during the pandemic, and the high-quality podcasts that exist that contribute to public scholarship. Podcasts provide an easy-to-access conduit to expert knowledge and feed the soul of our fan communities.

What would you like to hear more about from our podcast? We’d love to hear from you! Please send us an email at PotterversityPodcast@gmail.com, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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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.