The Literature Continuum: The Harry Potter Phenomenon

By Butler, Rebecca P. | School Libraries Worldwide, January 2003 | Go to article overview

The Literature Continuum: The Harry Potter Phenomenon


Butler, Rebecca P., School Libraries Worldwide


This article discusses the Harry Potter phenomenon as popular culture, and traces the evolution of the literature from children's work to young adult. In addition, it demonstrates uses of this literature in the school environment with a large number of activities to support this use. Available companion literature is also covered, as is the controversy over the appropriateness of the series for our children.

Introduction

The Harry Potter phenomenon began in 1997 with the United Kingdom publication of J.K. Rowling's first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (published in the United States in 1998 as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) (Fraser, 2000). Since that time, the world has seen three more books published about the young sorcerer Harry, as well as a movie on the first book, with more books and movies to follow. In addition, a plethora of authorized and unauthorized books, posters, newspaper and magazine articles, toys, candy, televised news shows, and Internet sites about Harry and author, J.K. Rowling (Beech, guides 1-4, 2000; Bouquet, 2000; Brannan, 2000; Feldman, 1999; Fraser, 2000; Gray, 1999; Greene, 2000; Kjos, 1999; Shapiro, 2000) has exploded upon the world scene. The resulting outbreak of Harry Potter mania has covered the globe from Europe to the US to the Far East (Harry Potter, 2001; Harry Potter Magic, 2000; Russians, 2000).

One effect of this phenomenon are the images: of a businessman on a plane trying vainly to hide Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone behind an airline magazine; of a grandparent concentrating on Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets so that she will have something to talk to her grandchildren about when they visit; of middle school students gathered in the school hall discussing Harry Potter and the Prisoner ofAzkaban; of a small kindergarmer vainly attempting to carry the 734-page Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire out of the school media center; of lines of children, parents, and other caregivers at midnight waiting in bookstores across the US to purchase book 4; of the lines at movie theaters when the movie version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first came out; and of a book-burning in New Mexico (Church group, 2002; The Literature Continuum, 2001; "Satanic" Harry Potter, 2002). These are the images of thousands upon thousands of people making a story and the author behind it part of our popular culture.

It was after observing much of this shockwave first hand, including devouring each book as soon as I could get a copy, that led me to create a graduate level class entitled "The Literature Continuum: The Harry Potter Phenomenon." As a faculty member in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA) at Northern Illinois University, I teach graduate students in the areas of instructional technology and school library media. Part of the process in our department is faculty discussion of prospective course offerings with their departmental colleagues. That is what I faced the semester before the course was offered when I attempted to persuade the Instructional Technology faculty (of which school library media is a part), that there was a need for a course on the Harry Potter series. Although some good-natured teasing did occur (including trying to add the name Harry Potter to courses as diverse as "Theories of Computer-Based Education" [Caro, 200O]), the faculty overall was quite supportive of my idea. Thus it was that spring 2001 found me with 19 master's and doctoral students in a three-credit course "all about Harry." Although the course was originally aimed at school media specialists, the students in this course also represented mainstream instructional technology. As a result, I found myself tailoring the course as we went along in order to fit the various needs and interests of my students. The course retained a focus on K-12 education, although activities, skill sets, lesson plans, and so forth became broad enough to cover classroom as well as school library media use. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Literature Continuum: The Harry Potter Phenomenon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.