CHL 137 - Harry Potter: Literary Allusion, Children’s Literature and Popular Culture [GEKH]
Students will read novels in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; myths, legends and folktales on which they are based; and criticism written about the novels. They will focus on literary terminology, literary allusion, literary merit and the public debates about the role of the humanities in contemporary culture.
Credit 3 hrs May not be repeated for additional credit
Grade Mode Normal (A-F) Course Rotation
Class-Level Restriction Undergraduate standing
Since the books in the Harry Potter series are children’s texts and a cultural phenomenon, they also have become symbols in larger cultural battles over religious values, literacy and the role of the children’s literature in shaping the next generation’s beliefs about gender, social class, race, imperialism, capitalism and spirituality. This makes these books an ideal model to use in a classroom to illustrate the relevance of literature and literary studies to society. A close study of these novels as complex literary works that have roots in classic literature, as cultural phenomena and as the objects of public debates can highlight for students all that is at stake in literary interpretation and cultural producing. Therefore, students in this course will explore questions such as: Do the books have literary value, or are they just commercial products? Are the book dangerous for children to read, or do they benefit children? Where is the line between literature, media and mass-produced products and should there/can there be a line? Why are these books so popular, and what does their popularity tell us about how we are and what we, as a culture, believe ourselves to be?
This engages students in current public debates about the Harry Potter novels, which can lead to an emphatic understanding of other points of view; because it will introduce students to basic literary terms and concepts and to current debates in the field; because students will be required to analyze and think critically about literary works in class discussion and in various writing assignments; and because students will be asked to develop their own interpretations of texts.
Winter 2023 Course Sections
Fall 2022 Course Sections
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