The Journey from Platform Nine and Three Quarters: Practical Magic
Well, this is the last stop, but the journey can still go on.
As I have said in my previous posts, Harry Potter made a reader out of me. But if you are like me, you were probably left wondering what to do after you completed the series, especially if Harry made your children or your students readers. As an educator, here are three helpful tips on how make the most out of your Harry Potter perusal with your children, your students, or with fellow bookworms.
Tip One: Explore New Genres
One interesting thing about the Harry Potter series is its genre. Obviously, the series falls under children’s fantasy, but Rowling uses a cauldron full of genres to create her characters, plot, and world. John Granger, the HogwartsProfessor, has written several books and keeps a website on the cultural influence of Harry Potter. One of his books is Harry Potter’s Bookshelf, a must read for any Potter fan. In this book, Granger breaks down the numerous authors, motifs, and genres that impact Rowling’s series. Examples of influences include Jane Austen’s use of misdirection, the Dickensian orphan, and the detective novel. Basically, if you loved the series, grab Granger’s book and see what other stories exist to satisfy your now whetted appetite for reading. As a school project idea, have your students read one of the “influences” referred to by Granger, and have them report on the story and how that story might have influenced Rowling. Hopefully, you will see your students open up to the vast world of literature beyond the gates of Hogwarts while still connecting to their favorite boy wizard.
Tip Two: Write a Story
Probably just a popular as the Harry Potter series itself is the fan fiction. Here fans of the series get a chance to write their own Hogwarts adventures using the characters they love so much. Fan fiction is an excellent idea to introduce children and students to creative writing. With fan fiction, readers already know the basic character and plot structure of the novels to serve as a springboard, but they get to expand the universe on their own. (I’m thinking about writing a story based on Starbuck and Leoben Conoy’s relationship in Battlestar Galactica and give their story the proper closure it deserves.) You could have your students create a story about Seamus Finnegan’s adventures in pyrotechnics, chronicle Luna Lovegood’s first four years at Hogwarts, or report Hagrid’s numerous attempts to woo Madame Maxine. I mean, the crazy antics of the Marauders and the Weasley Twins are enough to go on. Have your students read their stories to class, and you can always have them post it online. This strategy allows them to explore a new craft with the characters from the series.
Tip Three: Learn about Literary Criticism
When I entered grad school, I was wary of literary criticism. Now, I believe it’s a useful tool if handed correctly. The problem with some theories is they tend to be more about an agenda, and they write off good works of literature because they do not fit their standards (I’m looking at you Marxist, feminist, and post-colonial theories). However, even these theories can help us by providing a framework for our criticism and definitions for terms we need to know. Because of its cultural impact, the Harry Potter series has been examined by almost every possible theory out there. A good place to start is Harry Potter and Philosophy (covers first five books), The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy (covers all books), Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter, and Harry Potter and the Ivory Tower. As a teaching idea, assign each student a literary theory and have him or her reread one of the books with that framework. However, be warned: literary theory sometimes goes over the heads of experts sometimes, so don’t be discouraged if your students do not “get it.” If anything, you are showing them how the literary world of Harry coincides with our own and how literary theory will teach them something new and delightful about the series.
I hope these new tips give you an idea about what to do with the series after completion. If anything, you could always reread the novels. . . .
Posted on June 28, 2013, in Educational Resources, J. K. Rowling, Literary Criticism, Stephen Parish, Teaching, The Harry Potter Series, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged fan fiction, Genre studies, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, Literary Criticism. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.