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YHC gets ‘Potter-fied’

October 27, 2010

By Hailey Silvey, Staff Writer

Dr. Philip Nel, a professor at Kansas State University, came to YHC to give a presentation entitled "A Cultural Biography" to YHC students. Photo by Skye Butler

Dr. Philip Nel gave a guest presentation on the Harry Potter series Tues., Oct. 19 at 7:00 p.m. in Wilson Lecture Hall. Nel, who is a professor of English at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, gave a presentation entitled, “Harry Potter: A Cultural Biography.” Nel’s love for the series is based on the belief that “Harry Potter reminds us why we read literature.”

Nel highlighted many aspects of J.K. Rowling’s work, such as her ideas for the Harry Potter books, interesting facts about the series, the success of the series. Which due to the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter series, the character Harry Potter is now considered a classic character like the Cat in the Hat or Alice in Wonderland.

Nel also discussed how the Harry Potter novels have changed the standard for children’s books. He went into great detail about the banning and controversy of the Harry Potter books. He discussed the violence featured in the books, the series becoming regarded as one of the most contested book series and how the books became so controversial.

According to Nel, the books became controversial when the books were featured in Time magazine, along with excerpts from the Harry Potter series and interviews with Rowling alluding to darker successors.

Amidst all the controversy that has surrounded the series, Nel talked about the amazing success that the Harry Potter series has had. An estimated 400 million books exist worldwide, in 69 different languages. In fact, some of the names have deeper meanings in the translated versions of the series. For example, Voldemort, which is the name of the darkest wizard featured in the books, is a French phrase for cheating death. These clever subtleties can be attributed to Rowling’s work as a French teacher before she became a writer.

Nel demonstrated how the Harry Potter series has been adapted beyond movies with this Harry Potter reference, “dementor plus pina colada equals delicous sould sucking candy.” This is just one of the metaphors used by Nel. Nel described that the Harry Potter series has been developed into games, candy and dolls.

Among the more interesting offshoots of the Harry Potter series is “wizard rock.” Wizard Rock is any bands that names themselves after things found in the Harry Potter series. For example, some bands carry the name of Harry and the Potters or the Hermione Crookshanks experience.
Nel said, “wizard bands range from extremely talented to extremely enthusiastic.”

Fans of the books absolutely loved the presentation. Melissa Murphy, a music education major from Blairsville said, “I thought it was really interesting how he talked about the movies and the different directors. That was my favorite part.”

Nel said, “I love lecturing on Harry. It’s so much fun. Reading should be fun and Harry lets us have fun.”

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