Battling Voldemort, 101

115

Sep 26, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

In the past, we’ve told you about the rise in popularity of collegiate level course on the Harry Potter Series. Tonight, MTV has a new piece online, focusing on the classes being taught at Swarthmore College. In particular, one class “Battling Against Voldemort” is proving so popular, the article note that “a lottery determines who gets one of the 12 seats.” Students who enroll in the classes have read the series at least once, and the course is hoping to teach the students to read the books with a different perspective.

MTV reports that “They analyze each book, looking at themes and metaphors, reading up on scholarly perspectives, going over Jungian archetypes. For a discussion of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” they were guided by a critical essay by Veronica Schanoes, called “Cruel Heroes and Treacherous Texts,” to explore the ambiguities in the constructions of good and evil and the unreliable narratives of Harry’s world. It made students understand that even Harry himself can be an unreliable narrator. “

There are also deeper and mature discussions, such as the Professor’s explanation on what fate awaited Umbridge after she was carried away by the Centaurs at the end of Order of the Phoenix, as well as the moral and ethical issues in using an Unforgivable curse as highlighted in the following exchange:

“Haven’t we been led to believe that the difference between Death Eaters and those who are not is the use of the Unforgivable Curses?” Finberg asked the class when the discussion turned to Harry’s usage of the torturing Cruciatus curse.”He uses it on Bellatrix; he uses it on Carrow,” Hannah Edelman observed. “He also uses the [controlling] Imperius curse.”

“He is just really upset when he uses that curse on Bellatrix,” Matlock said. “I don’t think that means he’s a bad person. It just means he’s more human.””Do you think J.K. Rowling is playing with us?” Matt Bowers asked. “Do you think she’s telling us, ‘Look, you thought Harry was a good guy, but what if this were from the point of view of Draco?’ “But Harry would never use [the killing curse] Avada Kedavra,” Soares argued. “This is really dorky, but a hero, like Superman would never kill Lex Luther.” The class laughed.”

You can see the video report of this at this link, as well as view it on MTV2, and MTVu at the following times tomorrow:

MTV2
Fri 9/26- 7:30am
Fri 9/26- 12:45am, 2:45am, 4:45am, 6:45am, 8:45am, 10:45am, 12:45pm, 2:45pm, 4:45pm, 6:45pm





23 Responses to Battling Voldemort, 101

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first? this is really cool. would love to take this class!

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Bring this class to UT!

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a representative from swarthmore came to our school, and when she said ‘battling voldemort’ i almost jumped out of my seat. i think i may have scared the poor woman. it didn’t help that everyone started looking around saying ‘where’s allison?’.

that school’s in my top ten solely because of that class.

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I would so pass that class.

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I want that CLASS! !!! !!!!!

:)

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The centaurs are going to rape Umbrige?.... okay.

I would love for my university to have a Harry Potter class! Please oh please!!!

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Very cool! My college has a philosophy class based on HP – it’s really cool, but unfortunately people just take it because they’ll think it’ll be an easy A – without even picking up the books!

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Wow, I am so jealous! I remember I was beyond thrilled just to mention Harry Potter in my Lit class, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how excited about school I’d be if it was an entire class on HP!

I think this is awesome! There are so many ways to learn from Harry Potter, this is just yet another way!

News like this makes me proud to be a HP fan!

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I was JUST about to email this story to leaky, only to visit and find it already here. Yay!! If only this class were offered about seven (gasp!) years ago at MY school when I was choosing my freshmen seminar… sigh

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I second that, Wade! Both Tennessee and Texas should offer a course like this.

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It’s about time for the academic world take the Potter books seriously as Siriously good literature (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun! And yes I know it was groan-worthy.) I wish my teachers would see the imense literary value in them, instead of saying they’re not high enough literature, or worth alluding to in essays. That makes me so mad. >:( But I’m encouraged to know some colleges see their worth.

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Wow, that was strange, instead of italicizing the my, I’ve made it a subscript! I love finding new text controls in the comments. :D

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I’ve studied Harry Potter TWICE at Uni, although admittedly as part of a larger subject. I did it in my Fantasy Narratives course and again in Children’s Literature. I did the latter in the first half of 2007, and every single class would turn into an “Is Snape really evil?” debate and the teacher would have to keep bringing us back to topic! :P

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Heh, guys just buy Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys For the Series Reader by John Granger! It teaches you all these things, the reason Harry is an unreliable narrarator is intentional, it’s called Narrative Misdirection, and Jo uses it to fool the reader into thinking that what Harry think’s is happening is right.

It’s all very clever and it’s a great read!

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wow! thats a CLASS! sweet! i want to take it!

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I wish I had a class like that ..

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I really would love to take a class like this. I took a summer class at UT, the summer before Deathly Hallows had come out, and we spent the class writing our own fan-fiction, discussing what might happen, and just having a blast. But having more serious, ethical discussions about Harry Potter would be just as welcome, if not more.

If they do bring it to UT or a school in the Southeast area, I’d definitely consider attending it. :-D

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This class sounds great. I would love to take a HP literature and ethics course. My university, FSU (that’s Frostburg, MD not Florida) offered a HP course called the Science of Harry Potter or something close to that. It focused on how we could produce the magic of HP through muggle physics. I had a few friends who loved it and as a result became HP fans. I think more colleges should offer Harry Potter courses.

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Man, I would love to TEACH this class…... that would be sooooo much fun. I could talk about all the issues I am interested in myself with my class, have a great time and even get PAID for it, AWESOME job!

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Hey get a Harry Potter class at UW Madison!! that would be awesome!

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Brad is right, John Granger writes some interesting books on HP. College classes sound great!

I absolutely feel that this series merits this level of study, because JKR is SUCH a masterful writer. I could be mistaken, but has there been ANY book or series that has had this reach, success and impact throughout the WORLD in recent history? (...within the author’s lifetime, no less?)

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We have a Thematics Class art my Fine Arts school and we started talking abotu the themes and such in the first book and what not on the anniversary of the it. It’s a pretty intense class and actually provides a really good amount of learning. It may seem ridiculous to those posters on the article but you may be learning Harry Potter but you are really using your using your understanding as a catalyst for greater writings in general and understanding the points of those.

The classes are very much worth the time, haha, and it’s so much fun to talk about something I’ve been so passionate about since it started. It really is an amazing book, the first one, because it starts this whole waterfall of events. It’s cool to look back on these things in class and say, “Oh, this event alludes to this,” or “Hey, Sirius was mentioned in this book!” And there is a whole level of debate that you hit in class that you sometimes don’t hit with other fans because in my class there are people who know of the books, people who’ve never read them, people who’ve only seen the movies, and people like me “dorky.” You get a completely new view from people who aren’t familiar with the books and whatever because sometimes they are seeing this all for the first time.

Effectively, they are living what we went through back when everything first started snowballing. It’s so exciting to think and a little sad too I think since I can’t have that feeling again, not really. But I imagine I’ll feel it a little about Melissa’s book and JKR’s Tales. : 3

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The title of the course seems a little misleading. There are important lessons to be learned about strategy and tactics from how HP, AD, the DA, and TOOTP defeated LV. Lessons like, know your enemy. But from what I read, which admittedly isn’t very much, it seems to be more about muck raking and villifying heroes. I wonder how JKR would feel about her little heroine HG arranging for her enemy to be raped by centaurs! Obviously if you’ve read the book you will know that HG had no idea what the centaurs would do. That’s probably what they done, but I don’t think for a second HG had planned it that way.

I was shocked and disappointed though that HP and Prof Mc G were using unforgivable curses and that RL was chastising HP for not killing people.

The course, in my opinion, seems to be training people for tabloid journalism, Skeeter style.

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