Eastern Michigan University

Honors College

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CHL 137-Harry Potter: Literary Allusion, Children's Literature and Popular Culture

Since the books in the Harry Potter series are children's texts and a cultural phenomenon, they also have become symbols in larger cultural battles over religious values, literacy, and the role of children's literature in shaping the next generation's beliefs about gender, social class, race, imperialism, capitalism, and spirituality. This makes these books an ideal model to use in a classroom to illustrate the relevance of literature and literary studies to society. A close study of these novels as complex literary works that have roots in classic literature, as cultural phenomena, and as the objects of public debates can highlight for students all that is at stake in literary interpretation and cultural production. Therefore, students in this course will explore questions such as:

- Do the books have literary value, or are they just commercial products?

- Are the books dangerous for children to read, or do they benefit children?

- Where is the line between literature, media, and mass-produced products, and should there/can there be a line? Why are these books so popular, and what does their popularity tell us about who we are and what we, as a culture, believe ourselves to be?

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