Harry Potter-based University level English course

Three years after I finish my Undergraduate degree, the Univeristy of Alberta has introduced a course in the English Department that I might actually want to take. The course is a fourth-year Undergraduate course that discusses moral and social values in children’s fantasy in general and in the Harry Potter novels specifically.
I can’t find any articles about it online, but the course description is here.

7 replies on “Harry Potter-based University level English course”

  1. YaRness says:

    Books I’d like to see in that course:
    Chronicles of Narnia
    Willy Wonka books.

    … i’m either brain-dead, or I just didn’t read enough books at a kids level to think of any other fantasy books.. i’ve been reading adult books (not necessarily Crime and Punishment type adult, but consider eddings, aspirin [sp?], etc.) since i was very young, i can’t think of any children’s fantasy.

    • dcheesi says:

      Re: Books I’d like to see in that course:

      Chronicles of Narnia
      Willy Wonka books.

      … i’m either brain-dead, or I just didn’t read enough books at a kids level to think of any other fantasy books.. i’ve been reading adult books (not necessarily Crime and Punishment type adult, but consider eddings, aspirin [sp?], etc.) since i was very young, i can’t think of any children’s fantasy.

      Heh, same here. Maybe that’s why Harry Potter is so popular. AFAICT there hasn’t been much lately that bridged the gap between “Barney goes to Candyland” and adult fantasy. Most of what I read as a kid was simply bad adult fantasy (and some decent science fiction).

    • Codexus says:

      Re: Books I’d like to see in that course:

      … i’m either brain-dead, or I just didn’t read enough books at a kids level to think of any other fantasy books..

      Read Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. It’s a wonderful fantasy series. It can be read by young readers as well as adults. The themes in the trilogy include theology, quantum mechanics, multiple universes and many more all included in a very thrilling adventure. A must read.
      (Books in the trilogy: “The Golden Compass”, “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass”)

    • shrike says:

      Re: Books I’d like to see in that course:
      I grew up reading mostly children’s sci-fi and fantasy, so here are some of my favorites that haven’t already been mentioned.

      William Sleator – Interstellar Pig, and others

      Lloyd Alexander – The Black Cauldron is the most famous of the Taran Wanderer series.

      Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time, etc.

      Ender’s Game is a few years older than Harry Potter, but still definitely kids.

      Tamara Pierce – the Alanna series – a great fantasy series for young girls.

      The Phantom Tollbooth, The Castle in the Attic, everything Roald Dahl ever wrote, Anne McCaffrey (Dragonsong etc.), Robin McKinley (the Hero and the Crown), Ray Bradbury’s kids stuff like the Halloween Tree, I could go on all night with individual books but I think I’ll quit before I start diving into specific titles. :)

      I think looking at children’s fantasy as the foundation of morals in society is a very valid place to look. And it would give an appreciation for the way media in all forms moulds children.

      Chronicles of Narnia
      Willy Wonka books.

      … i’m either brain-dead, or I just didn’t read enough books at a kids level to think of any other fantasy books.. i’ve been reading adult books (not necessarily Crime and Punishment type adult, but consider eddings, aspirin [sp?], etc.) since i was very young, i can’t think of any children’s fantasy.

  2. Alexius says:

    Other Books
    The ‘Dark Is Rising’ Series, By Suzanne Cooper.

    Review Here

    And For The Record, My Copy Of The Book Spells Her Name Like I Did (I Think It Might Have Had Two z’s), Not ‘Susan’ Like The Review (And Most Of The Google Links) Do.

  3. mlylecarlin says:

    mlylecarlin
    The books were good fun, and I liked them a lot, but I don’t think studying them is appropriate for a university level course. It isn’t unexpected, because lately they’ve really been reaching for courses that morons can pass.

    This really bothers me though, because it’s teaching something that any fool ought to know already after reading a children’s book. People taking this course will learn nothing except how to say things like “slip lessons past the watchful dragons that reject overt didacticism” to mean things like “teach children without explicitly brainwashing them”.

    • Stevis says:

      Re: mlylecarlin

      The books were good fun, and I liked them a lot, but I
      don’t think studying them is appropriate for a university
      level course. It isn’t unexpected, because lately they’ve
      really been reaching for courses that morons can pass.

      If you read the course description, you’ll see that
      they’re not studying the books; they’re studying the
      social implications for the books, and how they may or may
      not present a questionable moral stance. While
      “children’s literature” (and it’s questionable that the HP
      books can be so pigeonholed) may itself be simple, its
      study can be as complex as any literary study.

      Well, OK, it’s not like studying Tolstoy, but it’s far
      from a “blow-off” class or something to keep the football
      team happy. These sorts of questions would be vital in,
      say, setting an elementary school cirriculum. After all,
      Huckleberry Finn is, in some sense, a “young
      adult” novel, but would you question whether there should
      be a university course on how to approach its moral
      lessons, especially vis-a-vis those who would ban it?

      Stevis

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