“Potterversity” Episode 43: “Live! From the Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Academic Conference 2023”
On this episode, we dish about this year’s Harry Potter Academic Conference (HPAC) and preview our new book, Potterversity: Essays Exploring the World of Harry Potter (McFarland).
Katy and Emily welcome Potterversity producer Laurie Beckoff and technical editor Emma Nicholson, as well as Louise Freeman, Mark-Anthony Lewis, and Lana Whited to talk about HPACs past and present. This year’s virtual conference allowed people from all over the world to come together, and we included the comments of other conference attendees in the webinar chat. We reminisce about our first experiences at the conference. Looking back helps us to see the evolution of Potter studies through the last dozen years.
What keeps us coming to the conference is wonderful discussions, inspiration for new ideas, deep dives into the Potter stories, like-minded people, constructive argument and critique, and a space in which Harry Potter is taken seriously. There is always something new to say and fresh perspectives on the series, as well as the movies and other related works. We all value the friendships we’ve developed with people from all different disciplines and walks of life. Reflecting on presentations we heard at this year’s conference that we found especially illuminating, we made suggestions for what we’d like to hear more about in the future.
Katy and Emily also reveal details about the new Potterversity book – currently available from McFarland Publishers – providing an overview and hearing from some of the authors about their chapters. Mark-Anthony talks about his chapter “Uncle Remus’s Shack,” about tokenism as portrayed in characters like Lupin, Dobby, and Madame Maxime. Emma shares how she reconstructed Sirius Black’s story in “Padfoot Revelio!” and in the process uncovered details that will surprise you and build empathy toward this complex character. Laurie explains her chapter “It’s All Fun and Games Until . . . ,” in which she compares the use of games in Harry Potter and Arthurian literature.
Louise’s “The Weasley Witches” analyzes how Ginny and Molly can be interpreted through the archetypes of the Amazon and the Mother, as well as the significance of Weasley sweaters. Lana explores the mythic significance of fantastic beasts in “Here Be Dragons and Phoenixes.” Emily’s chapter investigates the motifs and themes of the holiday season in “The Real Magic of Christmas in Harry Potter,” and Katy ponders transhumanism and cultural appropriation in “Arthur Weasley and the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts.” We also provide hints about other chapters in the volume to whet your appetite for the book chapters and accompanying podcast conversations.