“Potterversity” Episode 36: “Galactic Harry and the Intersecting Fandoms”
Fresh off of May the 4th, Emily and Katy talk about their love of and academic interest in Harry Potter alongside another fandom they hold dear: Star Wars.
Emily came to Star Wars relatively recently, after the birth of her son and a class at Signum University taught by Amy Sturgis, but Harry Potter was a gateway for her into speculative fiction and imaginative literature. Falling into fandom can be like learning a language – it becomes easier to understand others in the same group once you’ve mastered one.
Katy and Emily are not only fans but aca-fans with scholarly interests in the properties they enjoy. Fans have long noticed common threads shared by Harry Potter and Star Wars, and some of them hold academic appeal. Emily likes the clearly articulated sense of right and wrong in both series but also the fact that they don’t shy away from exploring the complexities of morality. Soul triptychs, in which characters represent different aspects of humanity working together, are also present in both.
Potter and Star Wars, although intended for children, have a depth to them that makes them enjoyable for both kids and adults, allowing kids some insight into adult thinking and adults an opportunity to think like children – a phenomenon J.R.R. Tolkien discusses in his essay “On Fairy-Stories.” Katy is interested in the intersection between pop culture and history and finds that both franchises use ideas about the past to understand the present and project into the future.
Katy and Emily are investigating some of these intersections in their current work, including a Star Wars conference and upcoming companion academic volumes on Star Wars and Star Trek. Katy compares the sequel trilogy to Potter, examining Rey’s and Harry’s experiences with mirrors to explore reflected images of themselves, legacies from parents they didn’t know, their destinies, and “time compasses” to orient them in their quests.
Emily looks at the Star Wars television series Andor alongside the film 21-87. They also consider crossover actors from Potter who are appearing in Star Wars properties, like Fiona Show (Petunia Dursley) and Kathryn Hunter (Arabella Figg), creating the effect of a palimpsest for viewers who see the new characters painted over the characters they previously portrayed.
All of these new Star Wars shows bring us to the announcement of a Harry Potter television series. Katy is looking forward to the opportunity to revisit the stories in a way that brings out different elements. Emily is not surprised, considering the current flood of franchise content. How much will this series differentiate from the films, and how will it aim to be a “faithful adaptation”? Might Star Wars provide a map for how Potter television content will grow in the future?