Rowling in the Deep

My apologies for the lame post title.

For those of you who have read the entire Harry Potter series at least once, take a minute to help out Dr Joel Hunter (Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University) with a quick survey. It will only take a minute, unless you find it extremely difficult to choose favorite books in the HP series. BE CAREFUL WITH THE FORMAT: 1 is your LEAST favorite book, 7 your MOST favorite.

In Dr Hunter’s words, here is the purpose of the research:

Here’s a quick rundown what I’m doing with the data. I’m going to do a simple descriptive statistical analysis on the poll results. Although I know the sample will cross categories of age, gender, ethnicity and so on, my independent variable is “# of times I’ve read the entire series.” Meanwhile, I have research assistants applying a proto-structuralist analysis to each book in the series (and the series treated as a single tale) to determine how well they “fit” to the fairy tale narrative structure. We’ll see if the two data sets correlate in an attempt to answer this question: “Can we explain (at least partially) the devotion of HP readers by the books’ correspondence to fairy tale narrative structure?” I will present the results at the conference in Scotland.

The conference he’s referencing is this one, organized by John Patrick Pazdziora of The Paradoxes of Mr Pond:

A Brand of Fictional Magic: Imaginative Empathy in Harry Potter

A two day conference hosted by the School of English, University of St Andrews   17-18 May 2012,  Kennedy Hall, St Andrews, Scotland

Also some of you might know (not that it’s a big deal or anything) that JK Rowling has announced a deal with the publisher Little, Brown to put out a new book. It will be her first since The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published in 2008, and her first non-Harry Potter related enterprise. No pressure.

The most fascinating part of all this is the emphasis, by Rowling, the publishers, and the media, of it being “for adults.” We could talk about what this means until the cows come home and still have no idea, to be honest. Does that mean realism instead of fantasy? The inclusion of racy, adult themes or graphic sequences? More complex language? All of the above, or something else entirely? Who knows. It all depends on how you distinguish adult from non-adult, a murky area to begin with. I mean, who ever said Harry Potter wasn’t for adults? Well, The New York Times, for one. In fact, it was they who split their best-seller lists into adult and children’s due to Rowling’s continual dominance of the list for so many months and years. It seems to me that something being designated “for children” really only comes about when we, as adults, don’t want it included as part of our world. As Tolkien said, fairy-tales only were relagated to the nursery when they, like old furniture, became unfashionable. I have hopes that such distinctions mean more to marketing and sales-driven pubishers, and category-obsessed critics and journalists, than Rowling herself. After all, she wrote Harry Potter for herself, an adult, primarily. If she stays true to that, she should be ok.

To stay updated, visit her website (which is under construction – perhaps to make it more “adult”??) and sign up for updates on the upcoming book such as title and publication date. Do you plan on reading her Muggle fiction? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts below!


About Katherine Sas

I graduated from Messiah College in 2009 with a B.A. in English Literature. I'm a student of all things arts and humanities, in particular Tolkien, the Inklings, and the fantastic and imaginative tradition in storytelling.
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One Response to Rowling in the Deep

  1. Jeyna Grace says:

    LOL! Your title is creative!

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