English and Film Studies

ENGL 487 B1: Studies in Children's Literature: The Harry Potter Phenomenon

C. Gordon-Craig

          The 1997 release of the first volume of the Harry Potter series of novels for young adults sparked a world-wide sensation that shows no immediate signs of waning. Movies, merchandising, theme parks and tourist attractions have heightened public interest and the impact of such a phenomenon has caused considerable debate within not only circles of children’s literature scholarship, but also the areas of children’s reading and interests, librarianship and especially the competitive world of children’s book publishing.

          The course will examine critically the overall plan and structure of the Harry Potter novels, their development, and various literary aspects such as the genres involved, the themes and their treatment, characterization and setting. Consideration will be given to the wide spectrum of critical response, including the controversy over the books’ appropriateness for young folk, the treatment of magic, the achievement of the series as a whole, its overall appeal and future position.

          The primary textual basis of the course will be limited to the seven principal novels comprising the main body of the canon and a solid familiarity with those will be expected.