I need to finish my presentation on Harry Potter as a kind of gateway drug of literature, or, if you prefer, a means of engaging students with the classics. I need to finish that presentation in the worst way. I don’t even have time to blog today. I have papers to grade and bags to pack when the presentation is done.
But I’m stuck. I want to drive to town and drown my sorrows in sugar and caffeine. Maybe a 20 oz mocha latte with whipped cream on top. Anything that might jar me out of this feeling of being stuck. As I have aspirations to sleep at some point and to avoid immediately gaining back all of the weight I’ve lost recently, I’m going to resist the impulse. Instead I blog.
I have some questions for myself.
1. Why do people love Harry Potter? More specifically, why do young people love reading Harry Potter?
I think it’s because of a combination of an engaging voice, cleverly crafted literary conventions, and clear moral lessons (i.e., no postmodern moral ambiguity). Plus, there’s the tried and true formula of adventure, romance, and stuff blowing up.
2. How can Harry Potter help students understand more difficult works of literature?
That’s easy. Harry Potter makes use of just about every literary device known to humankind. It borrows heavily from classical literature and classical mythology. If people can understand how Harry Potter is structured and how it makes use of archetypes and other devices, they can certainly understand those same concepts as applied to Homer and Virgil and Dante, et al.
These are my two main points, I think. I’ve written a lot of stuff, but I needed to take a minute to remind myself of my focus so that I could remember what I still needed to say. This is why they call writing a process. Sometimes I forget what I was going after on my way to the kitchen, and sometimes I forget what I was going after on my way to a conclusion too. It helps to stop where you are and think about what you might have wanted when you started out and whether or not that’s anything you ought to still want or not. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. In this case, I think I’ll stick with the ideas that brought me this far.
That’s all. I think I know what to say next, but you might have to come to my presentation to find out how that goes. Thanks for your time, anyhow. If you need to do some procrastiblogging anytime soon, let me know. I’ll swing by and leave an encouraging comment.