Title: Literature 137: Harry Potter: Literary Allusion, Childrens Literature, and Popular Culture
1 Literature 137 Harry Potter Literary Allusion Childrens Literature and Popular Culture
Some definitions and questions
2 But first
Heres what I learned about the class Monday
Out of 90 students enrolled in the course several are brand new students who are in college for the first time while some are seniors getting ready to graduate this semester.
Eight students have not read any of the HP books while a few others have read the books in the series more times than the professor!
3 What this all means is that
Any material covered will always be too easy for some students and too difficult for others.
As I try to find a middle ground please be patient and dont be afraid to ask questions.
4 Back to
Some definitions and questions
5 Literary Allusion
allusion (a-LOO-zhuhn) a reference in a literary work to a person place or thing in history or another work of literature. Allusions are often indirect or brief references to well-known characters or events.
www.uncp.edu glossary of literary terms
6 Why allusions are important
Allusions are often used to summarize broad complex ideas or emotions in one quick powerful image.
7 An example
For example to communicate the idea of self-sacrifice one may refer to Jesus as part of Jesus story portrays him dying on the cross in order to save mankind (Matthew 2745-56).
8 (No Transcript) 9 How allusions work
Thus allusions serve an important function in writing in that they allow the reader to understand a difficult concept by relating to an already familiar story.
In other words allusions are shorthand.
But in order to understand them you need to know what they are shorthand for.
10 This is Minerva McGonagall 11 And this is Minerva the Roman Goddess 12 Allusion
Minervas name is a literary allusion that reveals a lot about her character
The Roman goddess Minerva is based on the Greek goddess Athena who was the goddess of wisdom and the craft of war (among other things)
She was a warrior goddess and also known as Athena the virgin
13 Layers of meaning
When used well literary allusions add layers of meaning to a work of literature so that it has more depth as well as more ambiguity.
When we know that Minerva is both a goddess of wisdom and of war it makes sense that McGonagall turns from a schoolmarm into a warrior leading Hogwarts in a large-scale battle by the end of the series.
14 What do the following names mean
Argusgiant in Greek mythology a watchman with a hundred sets of eyes (200 in total)
16 What do the following names mean
17 Sibyll Trelawney
Sibyll In ancient times a Sibyl was a prophetess who in a state of ecstasy and under influence of Apollo prophesied without being consulted
18 What do the following names mean
Luciuscommon first name among Roman nobility possible reference to Lucifer. Lucius was the name of a Roman emperor who fought against King Arthur in legend.
20 Childrens Literature
writings specifically intended for children or that children have made their own.
21 Why study Childrens Lit
Arent childrens books just simplistic little books about bunnies
Just books with easy vocabulary used to teach things to children
Quite a few childrens books are complex dense and beautifully written works of literature that are read and studied by people of all ages.
24 Books like this one
Have complex story lines difficult vocabularies and are filled with literary allusions and other sophisticated literary devices.
Most importantly the best childrens books dont talk down to child readers!
25 Books like Alice in Wonderland 26 The Hobbit 27 The Secret Garden 28 and others are all studied in literature classes around the world using the same critical tools we use to study Shakespeare or Faulkner. 29 Indeed in some ways childrens books require more complex reading strategies than texts written for an adult audience. Heres why . . . 30
Childrens texts occupy a unique and complex place in our culture they are written by adults published and sold by adults often bought by adults for children and often read aloud to children. In these ways childrens texts are filtered through adult interpretations at every level.
31 What this means is that childrens books movies toys television shows and games do not reflect so much what our children actually are but instead embody the qualities we hope our children will possess nostalgic visions of our own childhoods or what we wish our childhoods could have been and all of our collective adult anxieties about what we worry our children might become. 32 In this way texts for children become a barometer measuring a cultures relationship with its children its hopes and fears about the future and the values that society holds most dear. 33 This is why people get so touchy about childrens books When people debate childrens books they are debating the values being passed on to child readers. 34 (No Transcript) 35 One of many Websites arguing that HP lures children into Witchcraft and Satanismhttp//www .crossroad.to/text/articles/HarryWitchcraft.htm 36 From The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 (compiled by the American Library Association) 1.Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz2.Daddys Roommate by Michael Willhoite3.I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou4.The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier5.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain6.Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck7.Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling8.Forever by Judy Blume9.Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson10.Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor11.Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman12.My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier13.The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger14.The Giver by Lois Lowry . . . 37 Most of the books on the ALAs most censored list are books written for children and adolescents because well-meaning adults want to protect child readers from dangerous ideas. 38 Dangerous threat to adult authority
For example the Captain Underpants books are high on the list because some adults worry they teach children to question authority and to misspell words. Really.
39 Where it all begins to come together . . .
Another thing the books on the most censored list have in common is that they are considered low-brow texts works of popular culture not considered to have literary merit. Theres loads of sex and violence in the works of Shakespeare but these arent on the list because they are classics.
40 Popular Culture
Consumed by the masses
Short-lived and trendy
So why would we study it at a university
41 Statement from BGSUs Pop Culture Program
Popular culture studies everyday life including but not limited to everything that is mass produced by us and for us. Its subject matter is the world in which we live relax and have fun. By examining television programs movies cars houses music museums celebratory events holidays magazines and many other manifestations of culture insights can be used to examine society presently and historically.
42 We study Pop Culture
To figure out who we are what our values are what we believe and to understand the complex interactions that make up contemporary society
This means that we dont just read the HP books we also need to read their contexts of production (everything that surrounds the books like the movies fan sites fan fiction spoilers on the Internet etc.)
43 Is Harry Potter popular culture
Lets go back to the definition . . .
Consumed by the masses
Short-lived and trendy
45 Can a text be both popular and a quality work of literature How is literary merit defined 46 Literary merit
Is hard to define
Some say it is subjective
Some say it comes from cultural consensus when enough people agree that a work of literature has merit then it has merit.
One measure of merit is the level of debate that exists about a work of literature how many literary scholars are willing to take the time to argue about the meaning of a text.
Heres a link to a bibliography of HP scholarship http//www.eulenfeder.de/hpliteratur. html
48 Critic William Safire dismisses scholarship about the books saying
The trouble is not that children are being lured into belief in witchcraft as some tut-tutting clerics complain Western civilization has survived Merlins magic in the tales of King Arthur. Nor will poor children be corrupted by tales of life in upper-middle-class English boarding schools.The trouble is that grown-ups are buying these books ostensibly to read to kids but actually to read for themselves. As Philip Hensher warns in the Independent newspaper this leads to the infantilization of adult culture the loss of a sense of what a classic really is.
49 This course counters Safire on two points
If classic works of literature are defined through use of sophisticated literary devices through character development through intricate story telling and through the use of literary allusions for symbolic purpose then the HP books qualify.
Also many non-western cultures and cultures in the past did not so rigidly segregate stories based on the age of the implied reader. Indeed some of the best classic stories we still value today like myths and folktales were told to audiences of all ages.
This course assumes the Harry Potter novels have literary merit and are worth studying at the college level.
But we will also consider other broader questions about literature and culture beyond just merit.
51 The Reading Experience
How have public discussions and controversies about these books shaped our perceptions of the original texts and shaped us as readers
In other words we dont read in a vacuum and the ways we interpret a text are influenced by all sorts of factors.
52 (No Transcript) 53
How is the nature of a literary text and of reading re-defined when literary works evolve into a series of films Internet fan sites works of fan fiction video games and action figures How might these repetitions of representation (often oversimplified distorted simulations of the original narrative) affect our reading experiences
When you read about Ron do you picture Rupert Grint from the films
How is your reading experience affected when you or your friends or whole family stayed up all night reading a book you bought at a midnight release party
How many authors are this recognizable or famous or wealthy or have this much control over a text
Are fans fanatics
Careful critical readers of literature
People who need to get a life
Or a community of people with similar interests
58 Is fan art (drawings stories films puppet pals music etc.)An interpretationAn odeA parodyAn act of creationAn act of obsessionAll of the above 59 (No Transcript) 60 (No Transcript) 61 (No Transcript) 62 (No Transcript) 63 (No Transcript) 64 (No Transcript) 65 And even bigger questions
Does literature as it has traditionally been defined even exist anymore in a global commercial mass media culture Within these contemporary contexts who owns a text The author Corporate interests Readers Fans who can cut paste rewrite and remix
66 (No Transcript) 67 For next class read
the essay Borah Rebecca Sutherland. Apprentice Wizards Welcome Fan Communities and the Culture of Harry Potter In The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon. Ed. Lana A. Whited. Columbia MO University of Missouri Press 2002 which is in your course packet.
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