Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Call for Papers:
A Brand of Fictional Magic: Reading Harry Potter as Literature
A two day conference hosted by the School of English, University of St Andrews
17-18 May 2012, Kennedy Hall, St Andrews, Scotland
The relentless success of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997-2007) evokes words like phenomenon and catastrophe. With the conclusion of the film franchise and the launch of Pottermore.com, the series is receiving increased academic consideration in conferences, articles, and monographs. However, relatively little work has been done directly engaging with the series as a literary text. This conference attempts to begin redressing that lack.
Rowling’s combination of fantasy and school-story genres, her use of folkloric archetypes and mythopoeic symbolism, and her social and religious messages render the Harry Potter books a point of interest—and controversy—to scholars from a wide range of disciplines. Specifically, this conference seeks to critically explore Rowling’s concept of imaginative empathy, the ability to “learn and understand, without having experienced.” Of particular interest are ways in which the power of empathy, in addition to its being of socio-political necessity, might be read as Rowling’s “brand of fictional magic.”
We invite papers and panels that engage with the text to discuss the centrality of empathy to the economies of the creative artist. Relevant topics might include:
The poetics of empathy
Symbolic or archetypal depictions of empathy
Readings of the series as children’s or YA literature
Mythopoesis and the re-appropriation of folklore
Medievalism and depictions of the Middle Ages in the Wizarding World
Space, landscape, or architecture
Representations and uses of socialization or maturation
Depictions of education and pedagogy, empathetic or bounded
Rowling’s concepts of “mental agoraphobia” and “wilful unimagination”
Literary influences on the series
Textual or semiotic analysis of the narrative
Genre criticism, viz., Gothic, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, School Story, Dystopia, et al.
Narrative voice and authority
Political empathy, class action, or solidarity
Keynote speakers will be John Granger and Jessica Tiffin.
Papers will be 20 minutes, and may discuss any of the seven books individually or the series as a whole. Please submit a 300-word (max.) abstract in .doc, .docx., or .pdf format with a short CV to John Patrick Pazdziora (email@example.com) by 31 October 2011.