8 episodes

The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling is an audio documentary that examines some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world’s most successful author. In conversation with host Megan Phelps-Roper, J.K. Rowling speaks with unprecedented candor and depth about the controversies surrounding her—from book bans to debates on gender and sex. The series also examines the forces propelling this moment in history, through interviews with Rowling’s supporters and critics, journalists, historians, clinicians, and more.

The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling The Free Press

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 3.7K Ratings

The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling is an audio documentary that examines some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world’s most successful author. In conversation with host Megan Phelps-Roper, J.K. Rowling speaks with unprecedented candor and depth about the controversies surrounding her—from book bans to debates on gender and sex. The series also examines the forces propelling this moment in history, through interviews with Rowling’s supporters and critics, journalists, historians, clinicians, and more.

    Chapter 1: Plotted In Darkness

    Chapter 1: Plotted In Darkness

    Host Megan Phelps-Roper writes a letter to J.K. Rowling—and receives a surprising invitation in reply: the opportunity for an intimate conversation in Rowling’s Scottish home.
    Produced by Andy Mills, Matthew Boll, and Megan Phelps-Roper, with special thanks to Candace Mittel Kahn and Emily Yoffe.
    This show is proudly sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. FIRE believes free speech makes free people. Learn more at thefire.org.

    • 47 min
    Chapter 2: Burn The Witch

    Chapter 2: Burn The Witch

    As "Harry Potter" becomes an international phenomenon, it coincides with the culture wars of the 1990s. In the backlash from Christians across America, author J.K. Rowling is accused of mainstreaming witchcraft and poisoning children’s minds.
    Produced by Andy Mills, Matthew Boll, and Megan Phelps-Roper, with special thanks to Candace Mittel Kahn and Emily Yoffe.
    This show is proudly sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. FIRE believes free speech makes free people. Learn more at thefire.org.

    • 55 min
    Chapter 3: A New Pyre

    Chapter 3: A New Pyre

    The early days of the internet collide with the feverish fandom of “Harry Potter,” and a sprawling, global community emerges. But the hopefulness of this new technology brings with it the darker impulses of human nature.
    Produced by Andy Mills, Matthew Boll, and Megan Phelps-Roper, with special thanks to Candace Mittel Kahn and Emily Yoffe.
    This show is proudly sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. FIRE believes free speech makes free people. Learn more at thefire.org.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Chapter 4: TERF Wars

    Chapter 4: TERF Wars

    The movement for trans rights hits its stride in the early 2010s, but encounters fierce resistance from an unexpected source. J.K. Rowling watches the battle unfold with mounting unease.
    Produced by Andy Mills, Matthew Boll, and Megan Phelps-Roper, with special thanks to Candace Mittel Kahn and Emily Yoffe.
    This show is proudly sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. FIRE believes free speech makes free people. Learn more at thefire.org.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Chapter 5: The Tweets

    Chapter 5: The Tweets

    After years of observing the conflict between advocates for trans rights and women’s rights, J.K. Rowling weighs in.
    Produced by Andy Mills, Matthew Boll, and Megan Phelps-Roper, with special thanks to Candace Mittel Kahn and Emily Yoffe.
    This show is proudly sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. FIRE believes free speech makes free people. Learn more at thefire.org.

    • 59 min
    Chapter 6: Natalie and Noah

    Chapter 6: Natalie and Noah

    Transgender fans of Harry Potter share their criticism of J.K. Rowling—and the experiences that inform their views.
    Produced by Andy Mills, Matthew Boll, Megan Phelps-Roper, and Candace Mittel Kahn, with special thanks to Emily Yoffe.
    This show is proudly sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. FIRE believes free speech makes free people. Learn more at thefire.org.

    • 1 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
3.7K Ratings

3.7K Ratings

Ssewagudde ,

Simply stunning.

Thought provoking, sensitive and challenging. A masterpiece.

*E*R*T* ,

Thoughtful and compelling

I was nervous to listen to this podcast in case I was inadvertently delving into transphobia. This shows the extent of current hostility to discussion - it’s even frightening to listen to the wrong thing, let alone say it. This podcast beautifully role models criticality and curiosity, and I was gripped and moved by it. Don’t be afraid to listen!

hens789 ,

Mary Shelley might not have said it…

In response to the invitation at the end of the last episode of this series, which I hugely appreciated in spite of feeling challenged with some of the opinion provoking interviews, I just wanted to volunteer one quotation brought to mind by that last episode in the conversation about people taking a stance out of some desire to do 'good' despite perhaps not always being on the 'right' side after all.

The quotation is often accredited to another 'fantasy' author Mary Shelley but seems more likely to have been by her her mother Mary Wollstonecraft.

Whoever said it, it very succinctly encapsulates the issue of opposing forces feeling such righteousness over the battle of ideas in this whole debate...

"It may be confidently asserted that no man chooses evil, because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks."

And with some hope the quotation continues...

"And the desire of rectifying these mistakes, is the noble ambition of an enlightened understanding, the impulse of feelings that Philosophy invigorates."

So congratulations on a captivating, balanced and enlightened series… You deserve praise and recognition for what you have produced.

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