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Harry Potter University

Posted by: Melissa
July 19, 2003, 01:13 PM

I'm updating straight from Nimbus 2003, where the fans are a plenty, the robes are flowing and the Potter is in full swing.

I've attended three panels so far this morning, and they've all been fascinating. The first was "Canon, Interpretation and the Alternate Universe: Navigating the Fandom Safely," with panelists Debra Duncan (literary essayist), Peg Kerr (novelist), Barbara Purdom (fanfic writer) and Steve Vander Ark (Lexicon superhero). The main discussion aimed to answer the question "What is canon?", and varied from panelist to panelist. Different opinions on what is unbreakable truth in JKR's world made way for discussion on inconsistencies in text and the publishing process that ferments them, how to consider the importance of interviews/movies/ancillary texts, treatment of canon in an unfinished series and the assimilation of altered perceptions with the introduction of new canon (book five).

Next on the bill was the Shipping Debate, which went a lot more cordially than this editor expected. It was a regimented debate, with each side (those who think Harry and Hermione will end up together in the books vs. those who think Ron and Hermione will make a match) presenting strictly timed arguments, followed by strictly timed responses and followed by a strictly timed question and answer session. As is par in this specific debate and has been for years, no resolution was reached, but I witnessed one H/H shipper approach the R/H table and, in what I consider a miracle, say that while his views had not been changed and he is still heartily on board his ship, the R/H debate introduced things he hadn't considered and made him see parts canon in a different light, and that the side was argued well. (I swear I'm not making it up - I gave him a hug, as such diplomacy merits!) I am sure there were similar sentiments expressed on the other side of the debate as well, but I could only be in so many places at one time.

The panel I just left was the "Publishing on Potter: Dodging the Bludgers" chat, which featured several knowledgeable and interesting authors of ancillary Potter books: Dr. Lana A Whited (The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon), Dr. Philip Nel (J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels: A reader's guide), Dr. Gisele Anatol (Reading Harry Potter: Critical Essays), Connie Neal (What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter? and The Gospel According to Harry Potter), John Granger (The Hidden Key to Harry Potter) and Dr. Edmund Kern (The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us About Moral Choices). The authors discussed the trials they underwent publishing books on Potter, the state of children's literature in the modern publishing world and touched upon their views toward Potter detractors.

As someone said, "It's like Harry Potter University," which is wholly accurate considering the amount of festivity going on in tandem to all the seminars. More later!

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