77 episodes

In the hallowed halls of Potterversity, hosts Katy McDaniel (Marietta College) and Emily Strand (Mt. Carmel College and Signum University) explore the Harry Potter series and wider Wizarding World from a critical academic perspective with scholars from a variety of fields, finding new ways to read and opening new doors. Made in association with http://MuggleNet.com.

Potterversity: A Potter Studies Podcast Potterversity with MuggleNet.com

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 40 Ratings

In the hallowed halls of Potterversity, hosts Katy McDaniel (Marietta College) and Emily Strand (Mt. Carmel College and Signum University) explore the Harry Potter series and wider Wizarding World from a critical academic perspective with scholars from a variety of fields, finding new ways to read and opening new doors. Made in association with http://MuggleNet.com.

    Potterversity Episode 31: Calling In from the Harry Potter Academic Conference - Part 2

    Potterversity Episode 31: Calling In from the Harry Potter Academic Conference - Part 2

    For the second part of our discussion about the 2022 Harry Potter Academic Conference, we discuss current themes in Potter scholarship, including the special section on the transgender community.

    Katy and Emily continue their conversation with conference presenters and attendees Laurie Beckoff, Lauren Camacci, Louise Freeman, and Lana Whited. After talking about favorite presentations in the first half, we turn to overall themes we noticed throughout the conference. Lana sees difference and reaction to it as a major topic, reflected in the interdisciplinary nature of the conference, which included political, sociological, and psychological approaches. Social justice and critical reading have been at the forefront of Potter studies in recent years, featured in Christine Schott’s talk on house-elves and Julye Bidmead and Emma Brandel’s presentation on creating a critical engagement guide to reading the series.

    Lana has observed a lack of attention paid to J.K. Rowling’s works for both adults (Cormoran Strike) and children (The Christmas Pig, The Ickabog) outside the wizarding world. We debate what might account for the relatively low scholarly interest, including Rowling’s controversial comments, genre, quality, generational appeal, and overall popularity.

    Rowling’s remarks about transgender people have been a major point of discussion at the last few conferences, to the point that the organizers decided that the topic called for a special section. Our guests discuss Louise’s scientific approach to transgender identity, using the “transabled” characters who wish to amputate healthy limbs in the Strike books as a point of reference to view it as a neurological phenomenon. Other subjects included trans “spite fic,” or Harry Potter fanfiction focused on transgender characters to spite Rowling (Ben Cromwell); “half-blood fans,” or queer fans who face judgment from their fellows for remaining in the fandom (Brent Satterly); and how to read the scene in which the boggart that takes Snape’s form is forced into a woman’s clothing (Lorrie Kim).

    This rich discourse is part of why we all keep returning to Chestnut Hill, and we look forward to more excellent conferences.

    • 55 min
    Potterversity Episode 30: Calling In from the Harry Potter Academic Conference

    Potterversity Episode 30: Calling In from the Harry Potter Academic Conference

    Join us as we reflect on one of our favorite annual events, the 2022 Harry Potter Academic Conference at Chestnut Hill College.

    Katy and Emily talk with attendees and presenters from the 11th annual HPAC: Laurie Beckoff, Lauren Camacci, Louise Freeman, and Lana Whited. The conference was held entirely in person until 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated moving the conference online. In 2021, the organizers decided to try a hybrid approach, which continued this year. We discuss the benefits and drawbacks of that style, which allows presenters and attendees to join from all over the world and enables active discussion during presentations but can bring technical difficulties and make it difficult to engage with people attending in a different manner.

    As usual, this year’s conference offered a huge variety of subjects, spanning literature, psychology, religion, education, and more. The first part of our chat focuses on some of our favorite talks. Lana, who usually connects intellectually with papers, felt emotionally stimulated by some of the presentations. Plenary speaker Loretta Ross, a recent recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant, spoke on “Calling In, Not Calling Out” as a revolutionary strategy to discuss human rights issues. In the wake of J.K. Rowling’s comments about transgender people, fans and scholars have struggled with how to broach this topic. We consider Loretta’s suggested approaches and social media as a platform for serious and sensitive discussions.

    John Anthony Dunne and conference organizer Patrick McCauley both examined death, an ever-present topic in Potter scholarship, while David Martin considered secrets, lies, and deception. Such weighty topics were balanced out by more light-hearted papers. Caitlin Harper, a regular presenter on (and defender of) Quidditch, this year talked about how the sport makes exactly as much sense as it needs to, comparing it to real-world sports that have odd or complicated rules. Laurie shared literary antecedents for Peeves and analyzed his overlooked role as a prankster in the series.

    Other character studies included Beth Sutton-Ramspeck’s examination of Ron’s transformation into Reg Cattermole, bringing a minor character to the forefront and analyzing his position in wizarding society and Ron’s experience of literally putting himself in someone else’s shoes. Mark-Anthony Lewis looked at Snape alongside Victor Frankenstein in their relationship to techne, which encompasses art, science, and ethics. Katy, inspired by our episode on Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, looked at mirrors in the new film and how the various Dumbledores interact with them.

    Stay tuned for part two, where we discuss current themes in Potter scholarship, the conference’s special section on J.K. Rowling and the transgender community, and why we keep coming back to Chestnut Hill year after year.

    • 45 min
    Potterversity Episode 29: Pondering Pumpkin Pasties: Food in the Wizarding World

    Potterversity Episode 29: Pondering Pumpkin Pasties: Food in the Wizarding World

    It’s the holiday season, so it’s time for the magic of food on this month’s episode.

    Food has a special role at this time of year . . . and in the Harry Potter series. Katy, Emily, and Louise Freeman talk about the food of the wizarding world: pumpkin pasties, cockroach clusters, butterbeer, cauldron cakes, and all things wizard food. We look at how food operates as a metaphor and how it develops mood and setting in the series.

    In the Harry Potter books, food serves important purposes in providing social opportunities for the magical community. Food is conspicuous in the Potter stories, even from the very first chapters. It’s used for humor, world-building, and character-building across the series. The quality of food available to Harry often mirrors the quality of his life at various moments, representing alternately deprivation or abundance.

    Food fellowship also pervades the series, from Harry and Ron’s first meeting on the Hogwarts Express to Weasley family dinners and Hogwarts feasts. Ron particularly has a hard time with food scarcity in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of the catalysts for his leaving Hermione and Harry. We also talk about where food is portrayed as morally “good” and “bad,” its use to signal nationalist or ethnic identity, food symbolism in myth and ritual, dangerous foods, and the tantalizing questions about magical creatures as both predators and edible prey.

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Potterversity Episode 28: Literary Takes on Harry Potter

    Potterversity Episode 28: Literary Takes on Harry Potter

    For all its growth into a global media franchise, Harry Potter is first and foremost a work of literature.

    Katy and Emily talk to Dr. Cecilia Konchar Farr, Professor of English and Dean of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at West Liberty University and editor of the recent anthology Open at the Close: Literary Essays on Harry Potter. For all the scholarship the series has generated, many of the literary qualities of the books are frequently overlooked while attention is instead paid to the cultural phenomenon surrounding them.

    The idea for Open at the Close germinated at the Harry Potter Academic Conference at Chestnut Hill College, where the series is examined from a wide variety of fields and perspectives. Cecilia discusses her chapter, co-written with Amy Mars, which uses digital humanities techniques to analyze the changing language throughout the series. Emily talks about her own chapter in the book, which also tackles the language of the series, albeit in a different way, asking what constitutes “good” writing and Potter’s style is often criticized. How have patriarchal standards influenced what is considered good literature?

    J.K. Rowling has been a particularly hot button issue over the past few years, with some scholars reframing their approach and thinking more deeply about the idea of “death of the author.” Separating the art from the artist works better for some than others. Nonbinary contributor Tolonda Henderson decided to step away from Potter fandom and scholarship because of the author’s behavior. Cecilia, however, has long been more concerned with the relationship between books and readers than authorial intent. She believes that relatability and discussibility should be legitimate topics for discussion. Many influential writers throughout history have been deeply problematic, but their writing still holds significance and value. Whatever the author’s views, books in general, and the Potter books specifically, can - and have - made a difference.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Potterversity Episode 27: Jim Kay's Illustrated Harry Potter Editions

    Potterversity Episode 27: Jim Kay's Illustrated Harry Potter Editions

    Explore the whimsical, fantastical, compelling images in Jim Kay’s illustrated Harry Potter editions.

    On this episode, Katy and Emily talk with artist and fantasy scholar Emily Austin (Signum University) and literary scholar Beatrice Groves (Trinity College, Oxford) about the rich, marvelous world depicted in Jim Kay’s gorgeous illustrations of the Potterverse. Looking at Books 1–4, we dissect Kay’s style and the range of his artistry and also decode some of the symbolic language in his visual storytelling. Emily Austin and Bea help us understand Kay’s artistic process and how we can see that coming through the books’ images. We talk about how art and design comingle in the “visual feast” provided by these editions and how much of his own sensibility Kay includes in his depictions. You’ll hear about our favorite images - the ones that amuse us and the ones that move us.

    Bea and Emily share their thoughts on Kay’s artistic influences and visual references. He uses a lot of nature imagery and symbols from the natural world, which we analyze for their meaning. He brings in many elements from the history of magic that deepen the reader’s experience of the wizarding world. We also dish about where to find “Easter Eggs”: special references, intertextual allusions, and hidden jokes. From landscapes to portraits to depictions of particular scenes, we investigate and marvel at the wonderful imagery Kay brings to the Harry Potter series.

    What are your favorite images from these books, and what are you excited to see in Kay’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Potterversity Episode 26: Learning Defense Against the Dark Arts

    Potterversity Episode 26: Learning Defense Against the Dark Arts

    Discover how politics can be both Dark Arts and the defense against them in Harry Potter.

    Katy and Emily talk to Dr. John S. Nelson, Professor of Political Theory and Communication at the University of Iowa and author of Defenses Against the Dark Arts: The Political Education of Harry Potter and His Friends, published by Lexington Books in 2021, about the politics of the series. John feels that the Harry Potter books “hit you over the head” with the interest in politics exhibited by Harry and his friends, even if it doesn’t seem quite as obvious until the later installments. He revels in the “glory” of political styles available in Potter, which perhaps offers even more options than the real world. Politics exist not only in the Ministry of Magic and other explicitly political environments but in how we interact with people on a daily basis.

    The politics of Potter serves as a helpful teaching tool by providing examples that a large number of students will understand. The political applications of the series seem to extend beyond authorial intent, offering readers ways to approach current affairs. John explains how politics is a plural noun, encompassing many kinds that Harry and company learn to recognize. The Imperius Curse, for example, resembles nefarious propaganda, soothing the target and making them susceptible to suggestions rather than violently coercing them into following orders.

    We discuss the role of “the fool” in the politics of the wizarding world and where folly borders on “chaotic anarchism” - where anarchic behavior, such as that of Peeves, can produce cascading events that turn small spaces for resistance into campaigns that can undo the accomplishments of a fascist regime, like the environment created by Umbridge at Hogwarts.

    Touching on a frequently debated part of the series, we explore the political implications of the epilogue. Was all too well? Is there a sense of conformism rather than radical, and necessary, social reform? Does young Albus Potter’s fear of being Sorted into Slytherin indicate that the House has not undergone much-needed structural change?

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
40 Ratings

40 Ratings

Kimira VP ,

Niffler-approved

One of the best HP pods out there - it’s intellectual, captivating, easy to listen to, overall an excellent show. Even my Niffler is a fan. Keep up the great work!

TheSteveOfRock ,

Great Podcast

Overall, this is a phenomenal podcast if you can get past the episodes featuring heavy contributions by John Granger. His spastic stammering, constant interrupting of guests, and condescension and dismissal of anyone who is not as severely religious as he is are absolutely unbearable. He’s absolutely insufferable and detracts from every episode he is in

PubCaster ,

My favorite

I’ve been writing books and essays and editing collections of works on Harry Potter for 15 years. This is my favorite Potter podcast. Don’t miss it!

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