The Potter Saga

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

Where did J.K. Rowling get her inspiration from? Why is Harry Potter so popular? How do the movies change the story of Harry Potter?

In this course we will discuss the ancestors to the Harry Potter phenomenon, examine the specific works and traditions that inform the Harry Potter universe, study the Harry Potter texts in depth, and, perhaps most importantly, consider why the Harry Potter franchise has achieved unparalleled global popularity today. In the process, we will take both a theoretical and historical approach to popular culture in general and J.K. Rowling’s works in particular. Wizards, witches, squibs, and muggles are welcome as we get to the very heart of Harry Potter.

Course Schedule

Week 1 – Why Study Harry Potter? Rowling, Fairy-Stories, and Genre

  • “The Fantastic Imagination” by George MacDonald (1893 version)
  • “The Ethics of Elfland” by G.K. Chesterton (1908)
  • “On Fairy-Stories” by J.R.R. Tolkien (1947)

Week 2 – Rowling and Mythology

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Week 3 – Rowling and the British School Story

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Week 4 – Rowling and the Gothic

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Week 5 – Rowling and Mystery

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Week 6 – The Political Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 1 – 23

Week 7 – Rowling’s Autobiography through Art

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 24 – 48
  • J.K. Rowling’s Harvard University Commencement Address (2008)

Week 8 – Rowling’s Books vs. Film Adaptations

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Week 9 – Epigraphs and Epitaphs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapters 1 – 19

Week 10 – Beyond the Books

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapters 20 – Epilogue

Week 11 – J.K. Rowling’s Bookshelf: Other Works that Shaped Harry Potter

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Week 12 – Harry Potter and Transformative Works: New Media, the Fan Phenomenon, and the “Harry Potter Effect”

“When Harry Met Faërie: Rowling’s Hogwarts, Tolkien’s Fairy-Stories, and the Question of Readership” by Amy H. Sturgis (2009)

Required Texts

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Spring 2018Sparrow Alden
Spring 2017Dr. Sara Brown & Kris Swank
Summer 2014Jessica O’Brien
Spring 2012Jessica O’Brien

Course Artwork

Course artwork adapted from an original illustration by Drew Blom. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

The Harry Potter Saga

In this course, students will discuss the ancestors to the Harry Potter phenomenon, while examining the works and traditions that inform the Harry Potter universe.

START: January 15, 2018

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITA 5303