CNN Features Harry Potter in Academia

110

Mar 25, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

While many readers and fans of the Harry Potter novels have long delved into the deeper meaning and context of the books in broader relation to other subjects, it would seem college universities here in the US are now following suit. CNN has a special feature article now online, highlighting the use of Harry Potter as curriculum at some of the universities in the States, including at Yale Divinity School, where graduate student Danielle Tumminio is teaching a course called “Christian Theology and Harry Potter.” CNN reports the “course uses all seven Potter books and the students examine Christian themes such as sin, evil and resurrection.

“It was a struggle for me as I put the class together, because I knew if I didn’t construct this really well … that a lot of what I was doing would be missed or misconstrued. I certainly didn’t want to come across as someone trying to indoctrinate my students,” Tumminio said. “I also wanted to make it clear that it was a critical endeavor, and that it wasn’t … that you’d sit around all day talking about how great Luna Lovegood was.”The class was an immediate draw for students. Seventy-nine people showed up at the first session for the 18 open seats.”

The article continues to note that others, such as authors John Granger, Philip Nel, and Ed Kerns have long seen the benefits to using Harry Potter in an academic situation. “Edmund Kern, author of “The Wisdom of Harry Potter” and professor at Lawrence University, was originally attracted to the books based on his training as a historian of early religion, magic and witchcraft. For him, the books’ historical impact, rather than their literary context, makes for a more intriguing analysis.

“As a kind of global cultural phenomenon, Harry Potter in a sense is unprecedented. I think movies have been extremely popular around the world, I think that certain music has been extremely popular around the world, but never before has a single literary endeavor caught the attention of so many people,” Kern said. Lisa Lowe, professor of American Studies at Yale, has read all seven books not as a scholar, but as a parent.

“What [Rowling's] really done is come up with a mode of captivating a whole generation: it’s a form of captive concentration that took place over a course of nearly 10 years,” Lowe said.”As an adult, you’ll be thinking, ‘What would Harry have done?’ “

If you are interested in this type of deeper analytical and thoughtful examination of the Harry Potter books, be sure to check out our forum, where our Obscurus section focuses on these types of discussions, as well as Scribbulus, which contains many wonderful academic essays relating to the wonderful novels by J.K. Rowling.





62 Responses to CNN Features Harry Potter in Academia

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I was wondering when there would be an academic course to take on this! I would be very interested to see what take the lecturer has on the books.

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this is great! i hate it when super religious people say the books are evil and teach people how to be witches, now this will teach people how many religious themes they actually contain. my mom’s a pastor and she loves the HP books! she says they’re not so much as a book about magic, but a book about character and good vs. evil, which just happens to include magic. and that stupid lady who says “that to read a book she is protesting against is hypocritical”. I say that to NOT read a book you protest against is PREJUDICE. sorry, rambling…

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Take that Harry Potter haters!!!!

Hate when people say to me that the harry potter books and movies are for children and that it would all pass soon enough. Now look at who’s reading them and further more studying them for “Christian themes such as sin, evil and resurrection.”(!!!!)

These are one of those moments that i think every potter fan can be proud of supporting the books and films.

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That’s awesome! I’m starting a university in a few months and it would be so great to have HP books in class(but I doubt it). I’ve been thinking-wouldn’t be awesome to establish HP university? :D

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To the best of my knowledge, the first HP course was offered by Richard Schumaker of the University of Maryland University College in 2000 or 2001….

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Somewhere, Laura Mallory is crying.

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Some weeks ago, I found a note at Vaxsjo’s University’s homepage about a course in Harry Potter, but I don’t think it was anything like this!

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Ah, sweet vindication…

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UUGGHH!! PEOPLE ARE MEDDLING IN HARRY POTTER’S AFFAIRS!

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haha this is gas. Harry Potter is such a big thing can’t beleive it! Take that Laura Mallory!!!

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As of 10 AM Eastern time there are four comments on the CNN site about the article. All on the negative side. I think we should all go comment on the merits.

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there has also been a course on Harry Potter and ethics offered at UVa. I don’t know if it’s still offered, but the prof was interviewed on the local npr station about three or four years ago.

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haha hilarious mollywobble! Woo perhaps once i graduate i could grab a temp job as the Harry Potter lecturer for the university

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Nice! It sounds interesting! Oh, and take that Laura Mallory!! :-D

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When I was getting my Masters in 2000 (Counseling Psych), we studied PS/SS for an abnormal psych course. The focus was on the psychological/personality differences between the houses. I work for the University of California as a counselor—and use HP books in my acculturation courses. I like to remind my new students that it is their choices now (not abilities! ;D) that will make a difference in their academic career’s. HP should have a place in academia and in our personal lives..good ethics and values and darn great reading!

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I’m not taking an entire class on it, but I’m taking Ancient Mythology at Florida State and we will study Harry Potter at the end of the semester. I’m pretty excited.

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I would have dearly loved to have taken a Harry Potter class (or several) while I was in college! It would have improved my GPA for sure and been great fun! :-) It sure would have enlivened my analytical literature classes! But alas! :-(

OH! MERLIN’S PANTS!!!!!! I could have gone on to get a PoD – Doctor of Potterosopy!

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I read Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time in the fall of 2001 as a sophomore English major at Indiana State in my pop. lit. class. Professors have been doing this for a while, and I’m thankful because, without that class, I probably would have never read Potter and become the massive fan I am today! Now, as a seventh-grade language teacher, I wish I could read it with my students, but it’s too controversial (blah, blah, blah—I’m a strong Christian and have learned nothing about witchcraft after reading and rereading these novels). I have recommended them to many students, however, and have seen several new fans emerge. :)

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Malinche,

I, too, tell my students that it is our choices (not our abilities) that show what we truly are. I even made a laminated poster with that quote on it and hung it on my classroom wall. :P

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Not surprising at all. Most of the college English profs I know are total Potterheads.

The most recent one just read them all for the first time within a few days in January, immediately read them again, then told his class at the beginning of term: “The only reason I’m not reading them now, is because I want to grade you fairly.”

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Back to Laura Mallory, I feel kind of sorry for her. She thinks she’s doing a good thing, but he’s missing out on a really good thing in the process. If only she would use that energy to battle real evil in the world. If only many of us had that energy to battle real evil. It’s sad, really.

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I can’t wait to go to college and take a class bases on Harry Potter! Just talking about Harry Potter and get credit for it! HOW COULD LIFE GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT??!!

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FANTASTIC news!!!!

“I could have gone on to get a PoD – Doctor of Potterosopy!” -i love that idea Cat!!!

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Awesome. I remember when I started college in ‘99 we had a childrens’ literature class and the first three HP books were required reading, in the campus bookstore (they were the only three out yet). It’s great to see that now acadamia is using them for even more than “children’s tales”!

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Oh this is so great. I’m so glad Harry Potter has all this amazing sides! When my mom was studying liberal arts, like two years ago, they made her read CoS and I helped her study for her Chamber of Secrets test she had…isn’t that amazing? A Harry Potter test!

And about Mrs. Mallory, I think she’s completely wrong. I’m a Catholic, and a devoted one, and I have never attempted witchcraft once in my life. And I don’t know any people who have (and most people I know read the books and/or love the movies) so yeah, she should quit. She already did, right?

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Interesting but not surprising. In America, I hear that there were university courses on Star Trek Philosophy. There were even university courses on Klingon. Jedi’s philosophy was also a course. Of course there are numerous Tolkien studies too. So this is not surprising. Teaching the morals of Harry Potter is great as long as it is not taught in a brainwashing way and is open to healthy arguments. Having said that, I actually love the morals and Christian analogies throughout the books so I would love to take such a course!

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Brandi—great idea!

I use that quote in my signature line and my office has HP goodies around. I find having the ‘comfort and safety’ of a shared love for HP is a good opener for students who may feel shy about talking! I’m 46 year’s old and I LOVE Harry Potter. My undergrad major was in History and the themes running through them and how mature the writing becomes with each book is certainly worthy of academic discourse—and counseling! :)

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GREAT NEWS!!!

I’ve been out of college for years (i won’t say how many :-)). I would love to take a course just for the pleasure.

As for Laura Mallory…

She’s one of many, unfortunately. I’m a devout Christian. Those people are what’s called hypocrites. If they were true believers, and readers of the Bible, they would realize…

“All Good and Perfect Gifts Come from the Lord”...

The Harry Potter saga is a gift from God. No one is going to convince me otherwise.

“A House Divided Against itself cannot stand…”

I believe none other than God allowed Jo to be so successful, because he knew how much good she would do in the world.

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i am a christian, and since DAY ONE have stood behind MY Harry Potter!! I’ve been telling everyone that it was always about the battle between good and evil, life choices, and friendship. The magic world is just the setting for the story, and makes it exciting. Reading Harry Potter does not make me less of a christian, my beliefs are still in tact. My dad was always against these books without reading them, but today, just 5 minutes ago, he took the first book home to read!! Oh, and Laura Mallory, God still loves you even though your wrong about Harry Potter!!

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I go to Columbia College Chicago, and am currently in a class called “Fantasy Lit: Harry Potter.” And the class is basically all about Harry Potter. We read the seven books again, everyone in the class has already read them. Its basically a class for people that are obsessed with Harry Potter and want to go deeper into the books and find all the little things Rowling put in the books that you usually don’t notice at a glance. Its definitely my favorite class.

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I love Harry Potter as much as the next person but to actually have courses about them in universities! I think that is a bit extreme, and also surreal. I do not understand how it would help or benefit somebody in their later career. Of course it would be fun but… I think that first and foremost JK made the books for children and in my opinion children’s books should be purely enjoyed not over analysed. It would kind of ruin the magic of the books for me. Only in America! (lol, before anybody takes offense I am joking!)

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Yes! Another score for the Harry Potter series. Take that HP-hating Muggles! And I think it’s totally awesome that there is a course in academia about Christian theology and Harry Potter. Just goes to show that these are not “evil” books. :D

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WHOA! This is so weird! I just wrote a blog post about how they should have a class about Harry Potter a couple ago weeks ago! This is great! Here’s my blog if you want to see it… I dunno. http://seamusiscooler.blogspot.com Yay! I’m so excited about this!

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When I found John Granger’s site, HogwartsProfessor.com, I felt I had just enrolled in a college course about literature and theology. I have learned so much and have really enjoyed the multilayered meanings deep in Harry Potter. All the ``overanalysis,’’ fromage, enhanced the magic. There is so much more to HP than a mere children’s story. Go there, turn over every rock, learn, be amazed and enjoy.

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I was reading the article, and it said Liberty University does this course thing-I’m going to Liberty next year, and I was like “YES!”

Now, I know I’m gonna have a great time at college…I’ll find some more Potter-holics to hang with!

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THANK YOU JESUS LOL

TOO much ok

how about thanks JC

Because Honestly Look at Harry Potter’s Charactor

do u honestly think if Jesus Knew Harry He would Hate him

NO BLEEPING WAY

GOD LOVES EVERYONE and i sure he would Rather Hang out at Ron’s house then At Belatrix

not because Belatrix is nessisaryly evil in the story but because she just doesnt Care

its the Line in 7 REMORSE

wow Thats what being a Christian is Remorse

harry felt it but Voldamort didnt

Peace Dude

that classes look fun

ps if they can make a Starwars Class that Tells Lessions of the Bible then why not Harry huh Jesus Said: i Will Go anywhere i am Wanted (when asked by his best friends Why he was going to an Evil Mans House)

I am With you Allways <—JC’s Last Words

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As a doctoral student of children’s lit, I don’t think I’ve ever known a children’s literature prof who didn’t teach at least one of the Harry Potters in their history of children’s lit course. One teaches Prisoner of Azkaban as the first text of the semester, and then teaches earlier stuff and shows where some of the themes in HP are grounded historically. English profs love Harry Potter.

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Yes! this is so cool! I’m 26 and I’m a massive HP Lover. I actually didn’t like reading at all but since I took the first book I just couldn’t stop, really! I used to go to bed really late because I kept reading and reading… and when DH arrived, well… that’s another story I just kept on reading all day long…. I hate when someone says HP is for children, this couldn’t be more mistaken! Just because the main characters are kids? The books are about really deep issues such as racism, discrimination, good vs evil, values, frienship, choices…

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I don’t agree. Unlike Christ, Harry sacrificed himself for his loved ones, CAME BACK, FINISHED HIS TASK, and lived happily ever after and made himself a heaven on earth. He isn’t a Christ figure; if anything, Harry’s sacrifice represents more than Christ’s because he wasn’t “called” by anyone, he did it because of the love in his heart which every human posesses (besides Voldemort) , not just what Christians posess. The book is a cultural phenomenon because love is something everyone the world over can relate to and understands.

I think we all know that the series is a true work of literature and should be studied and treated as a work of literature. Especially when we all know what happens when you overanalyze and look for things that aren’t there =p

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Ya, I really don’t understand how it’s anti-religious. If you think about it, if it was not Christian, why on earth would they celebrate Christmas or Easter? I can understand how some people would think it promotes witchcraft, but that is really only if you take it as truth.

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Hey Tory, I’m super religious and I love the books! :) But I agree with you, I wish they would just read the books. All I know is if I ever go back to school to get my masters when my kids are a bit older, I am looking for one of these courses. That would just be so cool!!!!! Would it be terrible to base my decision on where I get my master on which college offers Harry Potter book courses????

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The college I’m planning on going to next year--Elon University—has a four-week Hogwarts for Muggles class! I’m probably overqualified, but I am still so excited to take it!!

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i go to a catholic school and i hate when othere people say it should be against my religion to read this book because if they stepped into my school they will realise almost every one in my school has read all the books and they love them an are completly the opposite of evil

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I was thisclose to taking a class on HP in England a few years ago. Unfortunately, I was financially inable to do so. Glad it’s here in the States. I wonder if any univeristies around here are offering such course. It would be loads of fun.

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Please help me flag this stupid Harry-hating video off of YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irB7BGHzXjM

They disabled comments, obviously because they realize how ridiculous their claims are. It should be flagged as hateful.

Thank you.

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i study Marketing and Harry Potter has been mentioned from time to time. I love it!

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Fizzingwhizbee,

Not to elicit a religious discussion, but I’m very confused about your post, and I’m not sure how it makes sense. For those who believe in Christ and know the story, he did come back to finish his task—hint’s the resurrection. And, he’s coming back again to completely finish the task and triumph over evil for good—at which time Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and bound to Hell forever—finished—just like Voldemort. To say that Harry’s sacrifice represents more than Christ’s because Harry wasn’t called by anyone makes no sense, either. What about Dumbledore who was “calling” Harry up until the end? Yes, (almost) all humans hold love in their hearts—not just Christians, but Christ did what He did out of love as well. To say otherwise is ludicrous. Why else would he have suffered the way he did when he could have stopped it? While the Harry Potter stories may represent numerous universal themes and truths—and perhaps parallels to many religions—there is no denying that there is an obvious parallel to the story of Christ.

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...And furthermore, as an English/Literature teacher, I can tell you that the whole point of literature is to analyze—and over analyze. That’s why authors write stories—there are clear messages and lessons to be learned in their writing, and parts of their lives shine through their writing. Rowling herself has said numerous times how Harry’s struggle with life, death, and his beliefs parallel her own. The religious parallel is nothing but obvious.

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I find some of the above posting quite interesting, especially from those currently enrolled in or about to enroll in US colleges. Several of the campuses mentioned are in fact religious based schools connected with specific Christian doctrines and churches, while one in particular is a product of the evangelical and charismatic christian movements of recent years here in the US ... I am very very surprised to learn that these campuses are offering any activity or classes connected to HP at all! Good sign, actually, since our culture and education system are premised on the free exchange of ideas and toleration!

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I just want to thank Laura Mallory because if she wasn’t causing such a fuss my family would have never read Harry Potter. Praise God for Laura!

I love the Kings Cross Chapter because I have had a NDE.

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I am so very pleased and overwhelmed that Christians like myself are able to step out side of the box of only what is in the Bible will teach us what is good from bad. The Harry Potter books have taught be how to relate better to people around me from the good example portrayed by Emma, Daniel and Rupert as very good friends in and out of the films. I have learnt how to feel for others apart from myself and those immediately around me, I have learnt how to motivated myself and others, to make the best out of the worst situations. Oh my, it is too much to mention how these books and films have inspired me. I can only say thank you God for the wisdom and creativity of J K Rowlings, David Yates and Warner Brothers and for the remarkable talented of such young, gentle and tender actors and actresses.

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I think Brandi’s right on about the purpose of literature being that it should be read for its message. To add to that, those of us in the field of children’s lit feel that it’s particularly important to dissect the messages in children’s books because we’re giving them to our children to read. (Note, calling something children’s lit doesn’t mean it’s only for children; it only means the intended audience is children. I know lots of adults who read children’s lit for a living.) It’s important to be aware of what children’s authors are trying to say—not because we should censor what children read but just because we and our children should have some critical awareness of the messages we’re being given. (Do a basic Wikipedia study on British colonialism and then reread Babar for a quick example of what I’m talking about.)

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Im sorry but having read some of the posts I think some people are frankly insane and take Harry Potter way to the extreme. I am an Eng Lit graduate student and agree that yes we should be analysing the literature we give our children to read but I dont aree that the whole purpose of literature is to analysise. Yes the message is important but primairily we read for enjoyment. And to state the the actors within Harry Potter have inspired you to live a better christian life? Wow taht sounds absolutely barking! You dont even know them. Yes there are parallels with HP and teh story of Jesus but in no way is HP about religion. It does promote certain messages, empathy for others for example, but this is not exclusive to christianity.

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There is a “legitiamte” “academic” (please note use of the quote marks on both words) question that I have never seen addressed: what is there about the HP novels that has struck such a responsive chord in the modern world, across cultures, religions and languages? Granted, we have an unusually gifted writer and its a joy to read her works, but there must be something about the content of the story that is triggering such a widespread, global and positive response… and to my knowledge no one has ever really examined that aspect in any depth.

There’s a dissertation topic for you, bemused!

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Just a quick note, the “Christian Theology” course at Yale isn’t a Div School course, it’s a Residential College Seminar (i.e., special Yale College undergrad class) taught by a grad student. It’s also very hard to get into.

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Bemused,

It’s not very nice to call people insane, and no one said that the messages in the novel are exlusive to Christianity. In fact, I think I said the opposite when I said that the HP stories “represent numerous universal themes and truths—and perhaps parallels to many religions,” (me). Please read the posts more carefully next time before you call people insane and misinterpret what they have said.

Thanks,

Brandi

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Somewhere, Laura Mallory is crying.

Posted by mollywobble on March 25, 2008 @ 09:05 AM

YES

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You know, the only real truth is the truth we find in life and in eachother. Some define that as religion, some as experience, some as magic. What Harry Potter does is give everyone a common language to express their inner belief, a common platform for discussion. What JKR has done is take the “mine vs yours” antagonistic approach to discussion and put it on the shelf, in order to discuss “we and ours”...Christian, athiest, straight, gay, it doesn’t matter…what matters is that we learn to live together, tolerate and celebrate life and love and family.

You are amazing Jo, we all love you, whatever individual balcony we crow from!

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Just wondering if anybody knows the e-mail address of Ms. Mallory, so this can bve forwarded to her and make her understand that what she is fighting for is just a wast of time and money. If that course will be offered here in Canada, I will be in the FRONT ROW :)

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harrmione55, i do assume you are joking! reacting to those we disagree with, sending them e-mails or in anyway contacting them simply will convince some people that they are being persecuted, and motivate them to be even more active. please, folks, whether its Ms. Mallory, or SVA, or RDR or anyone else…please do not harrass them

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Alas, I again find myself disagreeing with the fans of Harry Potter on this forum. The series is a good, easy fantasy read for children, but a college course for our college students? I think not. I find myself agreeing with Harold Bloom:

“A vast concourse of inadequate works, for adults and for children, crams the dustbins of the ages. At a time when public judgment is no better and no worse than what is proclaimed by the ideological cheerleaders who have so destroyed humanistic study, anything goes. The cultural critics will, soon enough, introduce Harry Potter into their college curriculum, and The New York Times will go on celebrating another confirmation of the dumbing-down it leads and exemplifies.”

This was written by Mr. Bloom in an 2000 article for the Wall Street journal. His intelligence is clearly shown by the sad fact that his prediction has come true.

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Sorry for the double post, but I did want to add that I see nothing wrong with using Harry Potter in Children Lit. courses or to illustrate the use of the internet in marketing courses.

I just wanted to add this comment

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