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A collection of student essays that captures the passionate engagement their generation brings to the Harry Potter phenomenon.
A Wizard of Their Age began when the students in Cecilia Konchar Farr’s “Six Degrees of Harry Potter” course at St. Catherine University kept finding errors in the available scholarship. These students had been reading Harry Potter for their entire literate lives, and they demanded more attention to the details they found significant. “We can do better than this,” they said.
Konchar Farr, two undergraduate teaching assistants, and five student editors decided to test that hypothesis. After issuing a call for contributions, they selected fifteen thoughtful academic essays by students from across the country. These essays examine the Harry Potter books from a variety of perspectives, including literary, historical, cultural, gender, mythological, psychological, theological, and genetic—there is even a nursing care plan for Tom Riddle. Interspersed among the essays are brief vignettes entitled “My Harry Potter Story,” where students write about their personal encounters with the novels.
Although a quick Internet search yields a dazzling number of books about Harry Potter, few are as deeply invested or insightful as A Wizard of Their Age. Written and edited by—and for—members of the Harry Potter generation, these essays demonstrate this generation’s passionate engagement with the Harry Potter phenomenon and provide numerous critical insights into the individual novels and the series as a whole.
“…this work is a welcome addition to the library of books that analyze and discuss the Harry Potter series, and has the added benefit of coming from the ‘Harry Potter generation,’ giving the reader a unique perspective.” — H-Net Reviews (H-USA)
“…A Wizard of Their Age is a considerable read. Doing full justice to topics already well established in the Potter literary landscape, the book offers additional insights that are sometimes weighty and sometimes charmingly glib. With the myriad volumes of sharp and insightful scholarship concerning Harry Potter already written, one might wonder at first glance whether a book authored by undergraduates could possibly shine. The answer is a resounding yes … the authors within A Wizard of Their Age showcase a devotion to and intimacy with the Harry Potter canon that results in a genuine, thought-provoking, and ultimately refreshing work.” — Children’s Literature Association Quarterly
“This compilation of essays provides an excellent introduction to a range of themes and deliberations that often occupy dedicated Potterphiles, from genetics and mathematics to history, politics, and psychology. These multifaceted reflections both complement previous publications and offer unique contributions to the Potterverse knowledge base.” — Danielle Gagne, Alfred University
Cecilia Konchar Farr is Professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University. She is the author of Reading Oprah: How Oprah’s Book Club Changed the Way America Reads and the coeditor (with Jaime Harker) of The Oprah Affect: Critical Essays on Oprah’s Book Club, both published by SUNY Press.
Table of Contents
Foreword Giselle Liza Anatol
Notes on Citations
Introduction: Teaching Them to Love What They Have Loved: Harry Potter Goes to College Daley Konchar Farr and Cecilia Konchar Farr
My Harry Potter Story Phillip Awayan and Maria Ignacio
Part I. Muggle Studies
1. The Harry Potter Phenomenon: Locating the Boy Wizard in the Tradition of the American Bestseller Kate Glassman
2. Loading the Canon: Harry Potter and Fanfiction Kate McManus
3. The Simulated World of Harry Potter Kyle Bubb
4. The Wizard, the Muggle, and the Other: (Post) Colonialism in Harry Potter Hannah Lamb
5. The Generation(s) of Harry Potter: The Boy Wizard and His Young Readers Tréza Rosado
My Harry Potter Story Lydia Fasteland and Richelle Ilanga
Part II. Defense Against the Dark Arts
6. The Making of a New World: Nazi Ideology and Its In Influence on Harry Potter Sarah Wente
7. The Nuances of Mastering Death: Murder, Capital Punishment, and Assisted Suicide in Harry Potter Kalie Caetano
8. The Wickedest of Magical Inventions: The Separable Soul in Harry Potter and Medieval Folklore Sarah Sutter
9. WWHPD: What Would Harry Potter Do? Callie Knudslein
10. Doubting Dumbledore Jenny McDougal
My Harry Potter Story Marion Basilio and Carrie Matthews
Part III: Transformation
11. Harry Potter and the Wizard’s Gene: A Genetic Analysis of Potterworld Courtney Agar and Julia Terk
12. Give Nature a Wand and It Will Nurture Magic Kiah Bizal
13. A Nursing Care Plan for Tom Riddle Kari Newell
14. Literary Arithmancy: An Analysis of Number Symbolism in Harry Potter Evan Gaydos
15. Sexual Geometry of the Golden Trio: Hermoine’s Subversion of Traditional Female Subject Positions Rachel Armstrong
Afterword: A Conversation with the Contributing Editors
Appendix 1. Harry Potter Course Syllabus
Appendix 2. Annotated Harry Potter Timeline