Volume 95, Issue 64

Friday, January 25, 2002
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'I want to go out with you'

Alum now Lieutenant-Governor

Sophs want to sleep with the froshies

Western's tabloid hell

Queen's deregulation proposal denied

Pottermania reaches classroom

Pottermania reaches classroom

By Jillian Van Acker
Gazette Staff

Just when you thought the Pottermania hype was finally dying down, the University of Alberta has announced a new children's literature course based on the children's novels by author J.K. Rowling.

U of A professor Raymond Jones said he hopes the Harry Potter course will demonstrate how the books fit into a cultural context.

"The stories deal with adult/child relationships, comedy with pungent satire and magic as intellectual and emotional empowerment," Jones said.

Peter Cumming, a Western English professor, said he thinks offering such a course is "wonderful," having incorporated the first book into his course material last semester.

"The book is not revolutionary, but very old-fashioned in many ways," he said. "It's popular because it's just like all the children's books that came before it."

Cumming said some people feel threatened by the content because the novels integrate magic and the occult directly into the storyline.

While some say the books encourage young boys to read, others argue that if they become consumed by the Harry Potter phenomenon, they may not transfer their enthusiasm to other books, he added.

Laurie Harnick, a media, information and technoculture professor, also incorporates Harry Potter into her course, "Reading Across Media," which focuses on the adaptation of texts.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," she said. "It's an interesting vehicle to discuss other texts and issues, such as the hero myth."

Students are interested in new literature and it is interesting to study both ends of the Harry Potter phenomenon – from the line-ups when the books were first released to book burnings by critics, she added.

Yvonne Lo, a second-year administrative and commercial studies student, said she thinks it would be "weird" to have a Harry Potter course and added she did not think there would be much to learn from it. "It's a trend," she said.

Jones said the books will be discussed in the same way as texts in any other English course. "We plan on dissecting [the novels] and hope there's something left when we're done," he said.

However, Harnick offered a word of caution.

"The only problem with analyzing [a text] is that it can sometimes deaden it," she said.

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