Harry Goes to College
Marianne Tierney March 26, 2008 - 12:30pm
It has been a few months since we had some good Potter discussion here on dotCommonweal so I thought wemight bedue.Special reporter to CNN.com, Yalefreshman Patrick Lee wrote an article about the surge of academic classes that are built aroundthe Harry Potter books. At Yale University,oneYale Divinity graduate student designed a course for undergrads called "Christian Theology and Harry Potter." It has been done with C.S. Lewis novels and with J.R.R. Tolkien novels. So why not J.K. Rowling novels which have all the necessary components for generating some wonderful discussions? Lee reports:
The course uses all seven Potter books and the students examine Christian themes such as sin, evil and resurrection. (...)
Although Yale's course is its first Harry Potter-themed offering, other universities, including Georgetown University, Liberty University, Pepperdine University, Stanford University, Lawrence University, Swarthmore and Kansas State University, also have integrated the series into their curricula. (...)
Cat Terrell, a student in Tumminio's course at Yale, said regardless of whether the books are worthy as literary texts, they have helped enhance her understanding of other academic disciplines, including theology. ..."It's amazing how many connections you can draw between the theology that we're reading outside of class and the Harry Potter that we've known for 10 years."
The truth about Harry Potter, whether you like it or not, is that it is not going anywhere. The first Potter book was published in 1997, meaning that a ten year old kid in 1997 is 21 now. Obviously, Harry Potter appeals to people of all different ages but the world is about to introduced to a generation of adults who have lived Harry Potter's adolescence while experiencing their own. For many young kids, the Harry Potter books are the only books they read. I wonderwhatkind of extended legacy Harry Potter willhave as the Potter generation goes on to college and adulthood, especially if the books are being examined through the lens of theology and ethics.
About the Author
Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.