Harry Potter 101

College classes on Harry Potter are the latest thing, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Universities across the country are adding Harry Potter to the curriculum in a variety of disciplines — English, philosophy, Latin, history, and science — and professors say courses fill up as quickly as Honeydukes on a Hogsmeade weekend.

Science?

Philip W. Nel, an associate professor of English at Kansas State University, began teaching “Harry Potter’s Library” in 2002, the Chronicle reports. Edmund M. Kern, an associate professor of history at Lawrence University and author of the reader’s guide The Wisdom of Harry Potter, thinks his course would draw 100 students if he had the space.

Potter fan clubs and quidditch teams (they run with the broomstick) are popular.

A summerlong quidditch tournament is part of a Potter “immersion learning” program at North Georgia College & State University, where students are at work on a comprehensive Harry Potter encyclopedia, which they hope to publish.

Via Minding the Campus.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Bill Leonard says:

    I have long thought women’s and ethnic studies classes and programs the epitome of useless. But Harry Potter classes at any level, let alone college? We have achieved new highs. Or lows.

  2. Using Harry Potter in science is more justified than it seems. I can think of a multitude of concepts in basic physics that could be demonstrated by parts of Potter books – think Quidditch as it applies to simple acceleration and vector problems.

    Fiction, especially sci-fi, is fertile territory from which some excellent physics/chemistry questions sprout. Why? The sci-fi setting often ignores pesky elements of realism and simplifies the conditions for a problem – great fodder for introductory classes, obnoxious for advanced study.

    I find the characters’ perceptions of history and socialization to be remarkable in a way that other current children’s literature is not. The kids’ attitudes hearken to richer times when some things mattered more than individual identity. I try not to read too much into Rowling, but I couldn’t help but note that the way the characters think about themselves, their community, the past and the present all deviate a great deal from most of what is out there – especially the American literature.

    While the Potter books have injected some interesting and noteworthy points into a multitude of debates, I can’t justify a full syllabus – the notion of a Potter class at the expense of any number of more relevant courses is abysmal. A research paper? Sure. A class? Groan.

  3. Yes, science.

    In the HP world, magic spells have predictable effects that can be reproduced and redemonstrated. Ergo, magic, in the Harry Potter books is science. Of sorts.

  4. Er, to clarify, not that the Harry Potter books are worthy of college credit, but a couple hours of an English class discussing finer points like that would not be too inappropriate in a world of ‘leisure studies’ programs in universities.

  5. Ragnarok says:

    While I disagree with Matthew K Tabor about using Quidditch to explain physics – conservation of energy, for one thing – I couldn’t agree more with the following:

    “The kids’ attitudes hearken to richer times when some things mattered more than individual identity. I try not to read too much into Rowling, but I couldn’t help but note that the way the characters think about themselves, their community, the past and the present all deviate a great deal from most of what is out there – especially the American literature.”

  6. SuperSub says:

    HP does seem a fair bit better than some of the contemporary self-loving or self-loathing trash that I have read in classes.

  7. At my college (small liberal arts one), they have both Harry Potter class and Lord of the Rings/Beowulf classes, both of which are in the English department.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Will hey have a unit on Jorge Arantes and how he kicks himself?

Trackbacks

  1. […] of Texas Link to Article kansas state Harry Potter 101 » Posted at Joanne Jacobs on Wednesday, July […]