The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon

The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon

The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon

The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon

Synopsis

In 2000, Forbes listed J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, as nineteenth in celebrity earnings, only two places behind another phenomenon, Michael Jordan. Translated into nearly three dozen languages, Rowling's books have both elicited praise and provoked controversy. In The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, contributors from Great Britain, the United States, and Canada offer the first book-length analysis of Rowling's work from a broad range of perspectives within literature, folklore, psychology, sociology, and popular culture. A significant portion of the book explores the Harry Potter series' literary ancestors, including magic and fantasy works by Ursula K. LeGuin, Monica Furlong, Jill Murphy, and others, as well as previous works about the British boarding school experience. Other chapters explore the moral and ethical dimensions of Harry's world, including objections to the series raised within some religious circles. Rowling's use of folkloric devices is examined, particularly in terms of how these elements increase the books' appeal for children. The handling of British slang in U.S. editions and difficulties in translating Rowling's work for foreign-language editions are also addressed. The books' appeal for adolescent boys, not customarily a strong presence in the reading market, is explored within a cultural framework, and gender dynamics are discussed from the standpoint of contemporary feminist literary theory, focusing on the character of Hermione Granger. The concluding chapters survey the development of fan communities and the implications of the Harry Potter commercial empire -- books, motion pictures, action-figure toys, and other consumer goods -- for the series' literary standing. Written to ensure its accessibility to a broad audience, this volume will appeal to librarians, teachers, parents, and the general Potter reader, as well as to literature scholars.
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