63 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
    • 5.0 • 36 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 17: "Potter and the Pig"

    Potterversity Episode 17: "Potter and the Pig"

    Looking to recover lost love? Discover the connections between the Harry Potter stories and The Christmas Pig. 

    Designed for younger readers, The Christmas Pig features a young boy going on a perilous quest to thwart a materialist villain, The Loser, and reclaim his lost, beloved best friend, Dur Pig (DP). In this first episode of the new year, Emily and Katy explore the similarities between The Christmas Pig and the Harry Potter novels. Common motifs include the value of courage and loyalty, the challenge in dealing with bullies and tyrants, anti-modernism and anti-materialism, the heroism of the small and marginalized, coping with death and our own mortality, and the transformative power of love. 

    Emily highlights the Christian themes appearing in both, particularly the magic of the Christmas season, comparing Hogwarts Christmases with the miraculous possibilities of Christmas Eve in traditional lore. She also explains the religious significance of some of the names in the story. Katy points out how, in both stories, “Things” gain sentience and agency through their proximity to people and absorption of human emotion. The Alivening of objects in The Christmas Pig is perhaps akin to spell-casting in the wizarding world. 

    We also explore the ways this novel, like the Potter series, fits Tolkien’s definition of a fairy story, especially the experience of a perilous realm, the way magic is taken seriously, and the tale’s eucatastrophic ending, with the finding of that which has been lost.

    • 59 min
    Potterversity Episode 16: You Can't Over-Nerd Here

    Potterversity Episode 16: You Can't Over-Nerd Here

    Tune in for the latest Potter Studies insights from the tenth annual Harry Potter Academic Conference!

    In this special episode, Emily and Katy have an in-person roundtable with Laurie Beckoff, Kat Miller (Alohomora!), and Kat Sas about some of the exciting ideas and controversial issues raised over the course of October's Harry Potter Academic Conference (HPAC) at Chestnut Hill College.

    Fresh from the conference, we talk about media and social media "mirrors" in the wizarding world, Hogwarts as a setting of "dark academia," the Harry-Horcrux dilemma, Potter activism, and the eternal debate about Ron Weasley: hopeless or hero? Along the way, we contemplate the ever-relevant lessons of the Potterverse for us in the Muggle world, changes in the Potter fandom, public performance and reputation in the series, thing theory, and racism and oppression in the wizarding world. Who are the wizarding world media influencers? How does the Harry Potter series fit in with other macabre campus mysteries? Is Harry really a Horcrux? What about Nagini? How should we understand the flawed ideas about race and oppression expressed by characters in the books? And, finally, does Harry need Ron's friendship during his quest?

    The conference stimulates us to ponder compelling ideas and quandaries at the forefront of Potter Studies. If you’re looking for more Potter academia, check out Muggle Studies on MuggleNet, where Laurie has collected a bibliography of and links to Potter Studies scholarship.

    Join us for a lively, funny, thoroughly nerdy conversation about these topics and more!

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Potterversity Episode 15: Film, Fandom, and Podcasting in Academia

    Potterversity Episode 15: Film, Fandom, and Podcasting in Academia

    Get a little "meta" in this episode about Harry Potter fandom and pop culture podcasting! 

    Emily and Katy talk with film and fandom scholar - and fellow podcaster - Michael Boyce, Professor of English Literature and Film Studies at Booth University College and host of the Geek 4 podcast. We investigate how the Harry Potter films have affected our fandom and explore podcasting about popular culture from within the "ivory tower" of academia.

    Were you first attracted to the Harry Potter world through the films or the books? Michael explains how he came to be a Potter fan and his early experiences of the fandom. We discuss how the actors' interpretations in the film (ahem, Michael Gambon) change the way we understand the characters and how directorial cuts affect our memories of the narrative. Have these interpretations become canon or do the films exist in a kind of alternate universe? Different directors have also created distinct interpretations and even tones for the various books, and we consider how that influences the movies' coherence as a series. Michael explains that the films have provided easier points of access to the wizarding world for fans and have created clearer images of the characters, which certainly has had consequences for fan reactions to casting decisions and fan creative productions.

    Michael helps us analyze the unique (and not-so-unique) qualities of the Harry Potter fandom, and we consider the marketing of Wizarding World products to the multi-generational fan community. We talk about fandom as a target (and even creation) of late-stage capitalism and the way fans show our loyalty and love for pop culture through our wallets. Sometimes fan-based products like toys have even spoiled major plot points - LEGO, we’re looking at you! Michael tells us about fan gatekeepers and the joys of excluding others on the basis of fan purism. Is there a hierarchy in the Potter fandom based on the Hogwarts Houses? What do you think?

    Michael talks about how his podcast, Geek 4, which interviews people about their fandoms and engages with the geeky academic side of a variety of fandoms, from sci-fi to sports. We discuss the benefits of podcasting for both creators and listeners, especially during the pandemic, and the high-quality podcasts that exist which contribute to public scholarship. Podcasts provide an easy-to-access conduit to expert knowledge and feed the soul of our fan communities.

    • 56 min
    Potterversity Episode 14: Hogwarts Bullies

    Potterversity Episode 14: Hogwarts Bullies

    Investigate bullying at Hogwarts on this month’s episode.

    In this episode, Emily and Katy talk with Ithaca College’s Katharine Kittredge and Carolyn Rennie about the history of bullying and how it relates to the social and educational environment at Hogwarts. We talk about what makes a bully and how that conception has perhaps changed over time in the western world. Katharine explains how eighteenth-century writers tended to think of bullying as natural to children and inevitable in the school setting, especially where differences of privilege existed. The nineteenth century revised that view to consider bullying as a deviant behavior or the result of a problem in the bully’s psychology, which is more like our view today. Carolyn discusses the modern and feminine forms of bullying, especially facilitated by social media, and the volatile context in which kids can be both bullied and bullies depending on the situation at any given moment.

    The Harry Potter stories’ relationship to Tom Brown’s School Days provokes a comparison of the way both portray boarding school bullying behavior. Katharine explains how bullying was regarded in the history of British boarding schools and how novels reflected real-world changes. Bullying was sometimes seen as a pedagogical strategy in institutions, as peer pressure was used to enforce social norms. We also talk about gender dynamics in the bullying in pre-Victorian school stories, and how boy-bullying and girl-bullying differed. Katharine and Carolyn point out where these echoes resound in the Harry Potter series and how they influence character development. We explore how bullying manifests in both generational and intergenerational relationships, including from teacher to student. Are Hogwarts bullies humanized over the course of the series?

    From class differences to race, gender, and a variety of intersectional identities, bullying reveals intricate social dynamics in the wizarding world that have lessons for us Muggles. Join us for a thorough discussion that does not leave J.K. Rowling’s own words and actions unexamined.

    Stay after class for our special segment “Food Fight,” where we throw down over the question: Who is the bigger bully, James Potter or Severus Snape?

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Potterversity Episode 13: Don't Know Much About . . . Arithmancy

    Potterversity Episode 13: Don't Know Much About . . . Arithmancy

    Decode magical numbers on this month's episode!

    Katy and Emily talk with Dr. Lana Whited (Ferrum College) about one of the more mysterious of the magical subjects at Hogwarts: Arithmancy. We discuss where this subject fits in the Hogwarts core curriculum, its historical and etymological roots, and its meaning within the Harry Potter series. And, for that matter, how do you even pronounce it? Arithmancy is a type of divination using numbers used to predict events in the ancient world. Lana walks us through how to do these calculations and how to understand the numbers that result.

    Pointing out that we quite commonly assign significance to numbers (hello, lucky episode #13!), Lana explains the significance of important numbers in the Harry Potter books, like 3, 4, and 7. Much numerical significance comes from people’s observations of the heavenly bodies, and the number 7 specifically represented the divine across historical eras.

    Why does Hermione loathe Divination but not Arithmancy? We also talk about math-whiz Oliver from Puffs and his frustration with the lack of math at Hogwarts - why wouldn't Arithmancy be enough for him? Lana helps us understand the nuances of these characters' responses to the subject, and considers that Arithmancy may be the best integration of art and science among the Hogwarts courses. This subject, like astrology and other kinds of divination, gives people a sense of order when times are uncertain or unsettled, and appeals because it finds meaning deeply embedded in the universe. Wizarding society certainly takes this subject seriously, and we discuss why that is. Lana tells us the arithmancical numbers for a variety of characters, which reveal their key characteristics.

    Hogwarts students' favorite school subjects in general seem to reveal something important about their personality and growth arc across the series, and so we explore what Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Herbology represent for character development. We also wonder why there's no literature class at Hogwarts, and whether there are other magical subjects that should be taught that are surprisingly missing. Should the students be learning Occlumency . . . or not? What do you think Hogwarts should be teaching that they don’t?

    For our special segment, join Emily and Katy in the Potterversity common room as they do some Arithmancy homework. Feel free to do your homework, too, with Dr. Whited's Arithmancy worksheet!

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Potterversity Episode 12: Harry and Aeneas in the Underworld

    Potterversity Episode 12: Harry and Aeneas in the Underworld

    Harry’s explorations of loss, grief, and the nature of death borrow heavily from classical visions of the underworld, especially Virgil's Aeneid.

    In this episode, Katy and Emily talk to Dr. Vassiliki (Lily) Panoussi, Chancellor Professor of Classical Studies at William and Mary, about references in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to Virgil's Aeneid. Lily tells us about this ancient Roman origin story, which also references classical Greek texts like The Iliad and The Odyssey. It explores themes like heroism, sacrifice, community, friendship, and grief. Virgil's story about Aeneas's journey was immediately influential in the Roman Empire and remained so throughout western literary history. Lily explains that J.K. Rowling seems to consciously draw on the epic structure and themes of this classical story, particularly to serve a similar purpose as "a foundational epic that will have impact on the real world." Like Aeneas, Harry is supposed to usher in a new global era.

    Lily teaches us about katabasis, or descent, used to describe underworld journeys. Travel to the world of the dead plays a crucial role in the hero’s development in ancient Greek and Roman literature. Harry, too, has underworld journeys that shape him in each book, including the Mirror of Erised, the Chamber of Secrets, the tunnel under the Whomping Willow, the graveyard, the Department of Mysteries, and the caves of Inferi. Deathly Hallows multiplies the number of underworld journeys for our hero. Harry's visit to Godric's Hollow evokes Aeneas's trip to Buthrotum, a town that represents his old life and also helps him move through his feelings of loss and grief and back to the world of the living. We also learn about ancient-world death rituals, including games, that helped people deal with loss without ceasing to live themselves. Lily provides a nuanced reading of Harry's burial of Dobby based on parallels with The Aeneid that will make you think of it in a new, profound way.

    We also learn about connections to the story  of the King of the Wood and Aeneas's quest for the Golden Bough, which are evoked in not only magic wands but also another magical object that might surprise you. There are several symbolic cues to Harry being in the liminal space between life and death. King’s Cross Station is just such a liminal space at the end of Deathly Hallows, and we have a vibrant discussion of how it specifically references classical underworld experiences. This scene is the culmination of several lessons in leadership for Harry and provides a rebirth from which Harry can establish a new, more peaceful era for wizarding society.

    Emily and Katy provide the Muggle News for our special segment, with information on upcoming conferences for Potter scholars. Check out the Harry Potter Academic Conference and the Southwest Popular and American Culture Conference. Let us know if there are conferences or festivals you love in the Potterverse!

    • 1 hr 10 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
36 Ratings

36 Ratings

Kimira VP ,


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!

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!

RubyWizard ,


I was a listener of MuggleNet Academia, so was really glad to discover Potterversity. I was sad to find out that John Granger left, but apparently he is a raging transphobe so good riddance, the show doesn’t need him to be amazing (and without him everyone else gets to talk more, which is a plus). The discussions are always very in-depth and clearly well-researched, the hosts are insanely smart and learned. I look forward to the releases and can’t wait to hear what they discuss next.

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