Eastern Michigan University

Honors College

direct edit

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

"The global success of the Harry Potter series has created a cultural phenomenon from the texts, their related products and new media adaptations, and even the children who grew up reading them (now known colloquially as the “Harry Potter Generation”). This success has compelled many people to view the texts as symbols of cultural battles over literacy, religious values, gender, class, race, imperialism, capitalism, and even the boundaries of books “for” children versus books “for” adults. This course will examine the Harry Potter series as complex literary works with roots in classic literature; as texts that are purchased, consumed, and re‐produced by “fans,” “fandoms” and participatory culture; and as the objects of public debates regarding literary interpretation, educational use, and cultural production. Honors students will have the opportunity to study the Harry Potter texts in relation to dominant literary terms and concepts of children’s literature. They will expand their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills by:

• contemplating the significance of literary allusion through accompanying studies of Greek, Roman, and Christian texts, as well as Arthurian legend

• engaging in debates regarding literary “value,” and questioning where the Harry Potter novels fit in the canon of children’s literature

• exploring the role of Harry Potter‐related ephemera and merchandise licensing, thereby questioning the position of children’s literature within the context of global capitalism

• encountering new forms of the Harry Potter texts, including film, video games, and Pottermore, and problematizing notions of adaptation in relation to new media

• investigating fandoms and “participatory culture” as they relate to both Harry Potter and to definitions of children’s literature more generally"


                      -Amanda Allen; English Language and Literature; Winter 2013

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