Harry Potter Anniversary Event: Fairy Tale and Fandom at University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus

Harry Potter Anniversary Event: Fairy Tale and Fandom at University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus

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On the 26th of June, 2017, the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, and in particular, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was marked in a variety of celebrations around the world, at bookstores and libraries, and in some places, public lectures at university campuses, such as the event held at four o’clock in the afternoon, at the exact time the first book was published and released, at The University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah Campus. It was quite an academic event, as it was a public lecture, and it was very enjoyable, especially as fairy tales and children’s literature is an area I am very interested in.

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This event was a public lecture, entitled Fairy Tale and Fandom, and through four speakers – Dr Caroline Webb, Rebecca Beirne, Dr Elizabeth Kinder and PhD Candidate, Nicole Shipley, who spoke on various aspects of Harry Potter in the fairy tale tradition, its fandom, the way images work and how gender is represented through Harry.

Dr Caroline Webb had, for me, the most interesting lecture, though all were interesting. I enjoyed hers the most as children’s literature and fairy tales are the area I am most interested in, and in particular, retellings of fairy tales, and the use of fairy tale motifs in children’s fantasy literature. Harry Potter takes on the Cinderella story for six chapters – an orphan, living with foster parents who treat him like a servant, who make them cook the breakfast, and sleep in a cupboard under the stairs – the sleeping arrangements illustrating the last vestige of servitude in a modern world where the kitchen is the hub of activity for Aunt Petunia, and where she deems it suitable for Harry to be in there to cook for Dudley’s (or her Ickle Diddykins, as she calls him though there is nothing little about him) birthday, so she can focus all her attention on her son.

harry-potter-20-paperbackThe lectures given were quite academic in nature, especially Caroline’s, and she was very passionate as this is her area of research and teaching in the university. Like Cinderella, Harry is at first passive and acted upon – Hagrid takes him to Diagon Alley and gives him his ticket to Platform 9 ¾, Molly Weasley helps him through the barrier. Yet once at Hogwarts, Harry becomes less passive, and acts for himself whilst at school. From here, it breaks away from the fairy tale tradition and extends beyond the happily ever after of an escape, however temporary, from the Dursleys.

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There was one theme that cropped up in each talk – the idea of Harry as the hero and how he became a hero, and fits into that role. Caroline mentioned that upon entering the Wizarding World of Diagon Alley and Hogwarts, Harry becomes the retrospective hero – he is celebrated for something he never knew about, something he didn’t seek out, – but all the same he is a hero, and always has been to the Wizarding World – Harry’s experience of becoming this hero is plagued throughout the book by self doubt, as referenced by Nicole Shipley, and presents him as an atypical hero who does not fit many of the traditional masculine attributes of a hero, because, as Nicole suggests, he first and foremost, a human who cares about people and craves love and family – something that is often missing in male heroes, or is at least not always a consideration. When thinking about Caroline and Nicole’s lectures in combination, Harry’s character is shown to be imperfect, but still fitting in as a hero – just in his own way and on his own terms. However, Caroline’s focus on the fairy tale aspects of the story do not go into as much detail in terms of gender as Nicole’s lecture does.

Once at school, Harry is celebrated by students, and most teachers, and perhaps even favoured by Professor McGonagall, because instead of punishing him for flying without permission, she awards him with a broomstick and a place on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and with house points for taking on a mountain troll instead of punishing him for disobeying a direction from Dumbledore. However, she does not favour Gryffindor in the way that Snape favours Slytherin, and is also harsh on rule breaking at times, and fair in punishments and rewards. It is through Hogwarts and this world that Harry finds his place, and as Caroline says, a way out of the physical and emotional disconnect he experienced with his aunt and uncle.

hp20_230The second lecture had a focus on fandom and fan-made media, introducing us to the term transmedia – telling a story or story experience across multiple platforms. Rebecca mainly spoke about this in general terms, relating to how fans interact with the story in different ways, and what this can mean to them, and how they write their fanfiction. This transmedia phenomenon allows for the creation of complex worlds stemming from the original text, and the question of whether the fans actually own the story is a difficult one to answer. In a way they don’t, because they haven’t created the world and the characters – JK Rowling has and I think that needs to be respected and she needs to be respected as the author. A fan can own a physical copy, and own any transmedia texts they create, but at the same time, they do not have the same ownership over the origin story as the author. This is complex because many would argue that once the story is out there, the author no longer owns it – yet it is only the author who can alter the story if she wishes, whereas a fan needs to create their own story to explore something not explored in the story. I believe there are different ways to own a story, and it’s not as simple as stating that fans own it just because it’s been published. I think it is a lot more complex than that.

raven-20The world of fandom that Rebecca talks about has been spurred on by the creation of Pottermore and other games and collectables associated with the creator, and franchise owner for fans. Even though the computer games follow the story and get the same outcome, fans can act as characters in the story in their own way to get to this goal. The lecture hall was filled with fans, some dressed in house scarves and shirts, some dressed in robes or as specific characters – Harry, Hermione, Luna, Moaning Myrtle and Sirius Black, whereas others weren’t dressed up, but still keenly interested in the lecture, and eager to celebrate the anniversary.

Dr Elizabeth Kinder looked at the specular world of Harry Potter and the role that images play – whether in the Mirror of Erised, and the magic involved that allows Harry to find and get the stone, based on his desire not to use it and do the right thing, to moving photographs and portraits that adorn the castle, and the confusion that Muggle images, such as Dean’s poster of West Ham, give wizards, showing Ron prodding the poster to try and make the players move.

These portraits are shown as having their own agency, and ability to show emotion – and become important later in the books, with Phineas Black’s portrait, although, and rather disappointingly I think, this was not given any attention in the movie, even though I felt it was an important aspect that should have been included. Not many movies do much with the portraits , except with the Fat Lady in the first three, most notably when Sirius Black tries to get into Gryffindor Tower in book three.gryff-20

It is interesting that neither the books nor the movies touch on how a portrait of a deceased headmaster appears in the office in Hogwarts – as they appear upon the death of a headmaster, as in the case of Dumbledore, it would be interesting to know if there is a process. This specular world is one that is not always explored and is simply accepted as a part of the Wizarding World – like many other aspects of this new world for Harry, where Ron simply shrugs as if to say well, it just is that way. And because of the lack of explanation, as a reader, you are forced to suspend your belief and like Harry, just accept it. I think this is what makes these books so magical – that not everything is explained, that sometimes the characters and the readers just accept it for what it is and continue reading. Without this suspension of belief, the experience that the speakers at the public lecture were talking about would not exist as we know it.

Finally, Nicole Shipley’s talk on gender and Harry’s way of being male was also interesting and complemented Caroline’s. In short, she surmised that Harry, rather than being the typical male hero, free from flaws and imperfections and not distracted by love of family usually, is simply a human. He craves love and a family, he has self doubt and is not physically perfect – he is skinny and small with glasses, and yet, he is sporty and strong, and capable of finding a way to be heroic without compromising his humanity, a way of being male with compassion and feeling – aspects not typically associated with the male hero. As the final talk, I feel it summed up what the others had been saying, but in particular, Caroline’s, and together, these lectures gave a great insight into the world of Harry Potter that might otherwise go unnoticed.

As a book that started out for children, it has captured the imagination of adults as well, as has gone from being “just a kids book” to one of the biggest reading phenomena in the world today. Because all adults have been children, we can identify with Harry, self doubt and compassion and a desire for a family are not limited to the world of children. The twentieth anniversary shows that there has been a longevity of Harry Potter.

Between each presentation, there were trivia questions that just about everyone could answer correctly, a costume competition and after the lecture, a screening of the first film, which I had to miss out on to get somewhere else, but it was an enjoyable afternoon all the same. It was nice to celebrate it with friends and catch up with Caroline, and I hope to see more events for the other books in the coming years.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Edition: Ravenclaw

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raven-hb-20Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Edition: Ravenclaw

Author: JK Rowling

Genre: Fantasy, Children’s Literature

Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia

Published: June 2017 (20th Anniversary Editions)

Format: Paperback/Hardcover

Pages: 352

Price: Paperback: $16.99, Hardback: $27.99

Synopsis: Celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter magic with four special editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw … Twenty years ago these magical words and many more flowed from a young writer’s pen, an orphan called Harry Potter was freed from the cupboard under the stairs – and a global phenomenon started. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been read and loved by every new generation since. To mark the 20th anniversary of first publication, Bloomsbury is publishing four House Editions of J.K. Rowling’s modern classic. These stunning editions will each feature the individual house crest on the jacket and line illustrations exclusive to that house, by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Levi Pinfold. Exciting new extra content will include fact files and profiles of favourite characters, and each book will have sprayed edges in the house colours. Available for a limited period only, these highly collectable editions will be a must-have for all Harry Potter fans in 2017.

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

~*~

raven-20Most of us know the story, we’ve read the series more times than we can count and seen each movie multiple times, and would probably blitz it in a Harry Potter trivia quiz. We know Hogwarts just as well as our own homes, know Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Weasley clan, as well as the teachers as Hogwarts like old friends, and we know that in the end, all will be well. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter, and to celebrate this occassion, Bloomsbury have re-released the first book in house colours in hard cover and paperback. The hard cover book has a black slip cover, with the house crest in the respective colour – so blue for Ravenclaw, with blue and bronze strip sprayed edges on the pages. The paperback of Ravenclaw is blue with black imagery and bronze text and blue edges. Each is exquisite, and the other houses are done in the same way with their respective liveries and colours.

Before the story starts, we are treated to additional information about the founder of Ravenclaw, Rowena Ravenclaw, information about the livery – a raven, in the centre, and flanked by an owl and another raven, with a swan and a fox atop the livery on either side of a sharp arrow. This, along with other illustrations, have been completed by Levi Pinfold, and give a delightful insight into what the founder of Ravenclaw looks like, which enhances the additional information about her and the house, which includes information on the house ghost, The Grey Lady, and notable students, such as Luna Lovegood, Moaning Myrtle and Gilderoy Lockhart, perhaps the most inept Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Hogwarts ever had, as well as head of house, Charms Professor, Filius Flitwick.

Each respective house edition has these same features in relation to Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

hp20_230In Harry’s world, we are treated to characters that will stay with us, and that will be well loved and treasured. With each character growing over the series, it will be interesting to see how Bloomsbury tops each subsequent 20th anniversary after this one, whether it will be books or events held across the world.

Between these informative sections, is the original story, still the same, still magical, and still welcoming. The characters haven’t changed, ensuring that readers of all ages, new and old, will come to the series finding the same thing, and being able to share the same story in whatever way they come to enjoy it. The additions of Levi Pinfold’s illustrations and the house information enhance the experience, and make for a delightful and colourful collection if you choose to get each house edition for your collection. It is a story that will live on, and the magic doesn’t die as you read and read it again. I discover something new with each read, and I thoroughly enjoy reading my Ravenclaw edition.

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Choose your house and enjoy, and if you can, head to Harry Potter 20th Anniversary celebrations near you!

Unsung Heroes: The House Elves of Harry Potter

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There are many heroes in Harry Potter: James and Lily Potter, whose selfless sacrifice leaves their son an orphan, but is never forgotten throughout the series, Sirius, Harry’s godfather, who gives up twelve years of his life in the notorious wizarding prison, Azkaban, when former friend, Peter Pettigrew blasts away a street full of Muggles and leaves a finger behind, leaving the Wizarding World thinking he is dead, when he is living as a rat with the Weasley family. Mr and Mrs Weasley, who open their homes and their hearts to Harry from book one, when he is lost on King’s Cross, trying to get onto Platform 9 ¾. And then there are Professors McGonagall and Snape, who protect Hogwarts, and Harry, until the end, in their own ways, with McGonagall ensuring that Harry gets through his OWLs, despite the cruelty of Dolores Umbridge, and ensuring he is able to get the Battle of Hogwarts under way. And Snape, whose hatred for Harry runs deep, spends the series as a double agent, and his death to ensure Voldemort doesn’t find Harry, despite this hatred. As readers, we all remember these heroes. But there is one group of heroes we don’t hear much about, at least in the movies, but they have a much bigger role in the books. The house elves.

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We are first introduced to house elves with Dobby, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He has, unbeknownst to his masters, the Malfoys, run away from their Manor to try and prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts for his second year. He has stopped Ron and Hermione’s letters from arriving, and has now come to cause havoc to ensure his expulsion. Yet, in a further act of deviousness, he closes the barrier at King’s Cross, and once Harry is finally at Hogwarts, tampers with a Bludger that injures Harry, and results in the bones being removed from his arm by the wildly inadequate, yet egotistical Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart. At the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after discovering Dobby serves the Malfoy family, Harry presents the diary of Voldemort to Lucius in a sock, which he flings aside and Dobby catches it – setting him free, as the only way a house elf can be released from his or her servitude is with clothing.

Dobby makes another appearance in book four, where Harry, Ron and Hermione find him working in the Hogwarts kitchens with Winky, who, until the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, had worked for the Crouch family. Dobby comes to Harry’s aid again in the second task when he brings him Gillyweed, to help him breathe underwater to save Ron, and so it turns out, Fleur Delacour’s younger sister.

In book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dobby again helps Harry (this time without injuring him) find a secret place where Dumbledore’s Army could meet and Dobby delivers, showing him how to find The Room of Requirement, and then warns Harry that they have been discovered. During this time, Harry also employs Dobby to spy on Draco Malfoy so he can find out what he is up to, and then gives Kreacher and Dobby various tasks during this time. Dobby defends Harry against Kreacher’s screeching that Draco would make abetter master as well – proving his loyalty to Harry, and showing that house else are just as loyal and heroic. Later on, Kreacher becomes loyal to Harry following the death of Sirius, and together with Dobby, brings Mundungus Fletcher to Harry in the final book when they are searching for the Horcuxes.

Dobby, who has been the house elf who has received the most amount of page time so far, though was not as involved in the movies as he should have been, makes the ultimate sacrifice at Malfoy Manor when Harry, Ron and Hermione are captured and plot to save Luna Lovegood, Griphook and Garrick Ollivander from the Malfoys. As they Apparated out of Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange threw a knife at Dobby, and upon their arrival at Shell Cottage, Harry discovered Dobby’s fatal injury.

Dobby, who had dedicated his last years to helping Harry, uttered his final words in Harry’s arms: Harry Potter, He was buried near Shell Cottage, under a headstone that reads:

Here lies Dobby, a free elf.

Kreacher only appears in the last few books, and at first, endears himself to nobody, lamenting the death of his mistress, Mrs Black, and lacking respect for his new master, Sirius. Influenced over the years by Dark Wizards and their thinking, the respect Kreacher is shown by Harry and Hermione is what makes him begin to help them with Dobby, and lead the House Elves of Hogwarts into the Battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This is missing in the movies, and the omission of the role of the house elves in the books from the movies is perhaps what makes them the unsung heroes of the series. As Kreacher only has a small part, much smaller than Dobby, but just as important – both have been mistreated, and are seen as lesser beings by many wizards. They are valued by Harry, Ron and Hermione – and therefore are loyal to them. Whilst Dobby is faithful to Harry and will defend him against anyone, Kreacher takes a bit longer to come around, and it is Harry’s kindness in allowing him to keep some Black family relics in his bed, and speaking to him as an equal that eventually brings Kreacher around, and follows his orders to go to Hogwarts. It is his loyalty that makes Kreacher lead the other house elves into the battle when Dobby is no longer there to give that help.

Dobby and Kreacher are the two most significant house elves in the series but they are all heroes in the end, giving their lives and freedom for Hogwarts, which is as much their home as it is Harry’s, and they will defend it, even if they are not ordered to. This act, and the many acts of Dobby that ensured Harry’s survival, show that somebody small can be a hero. Amongst the heroes that are remembered from the series and the Battle of Hogwarts, it is not always the house elves that are remembered. On this anniversary, 20 years of Harry Potter, the house elves shall be remembered, and it all started with an elf with eyes the size and colour of tennis balls called Dobby.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling: 20 Years Old

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Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Author: JK Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 26th of June 1997 (first published) – 2017 marks 20 years

Format: Paperback

Pages: 223

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter “H”.

Harry Potter has never heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

An incredible adventure is about to begin!

~*~

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As 2017 marks twenty years since the world met Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, a bespectacled, messy haired eleven year old, I am celebrating with a series of posts, including a review of the first book.

At age one, Harry is sent to live with his awful relatives, the Dursleys, following the mysterious death of his parents, Lily and James Potter. Unbeknownst to him, they were murdered by a Dark Wizard, Lord Voldemort, whose ambition to take over the wizarding world was thwarted when he turned his wand onto Harry, and the Killing Curse bounced back onto Voldemort, sending him into an oblivion he longed to get out of.

Ten years later, Harry begins to receive mysterious letters in a parchment envelope, addressed in emerald green ink, pinpointing his exact location: the cupboard under the stairs, the smallest bedroom, and the hut on the rock, before he receives his letter when Rubeus Hagrid is sent to help. From here, Harry enters the Wizarding World, and is soon attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, despite his aunt and uncle’s attempts to stamp the magic out of him.

hp20_230Harry’s time at Hogwarts is not without troubles. He earns a spot on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, courtesy of his Head of House, Minvera McGonagall, earns an enemy because he chose Ron Weasley as a friend over Draco Malfoy, fights a Mountain Troll, and ventures into the Forbidden Forest for a detention when he is caught out of bed. All of this leads up to a battle between Harry and the person he never thought he’d face, or ever have to face beneath a trap door in the school, guarded by a three headed dog called Fluffy.

I enjoyed this book, and the rest of the series, and still have them on my shelf. A great series to read and re-read over and over again, it allows you to suspend belief and go to Hogwarts. As a start to a series, I found it well written, and each time I read it, there is something comforting about it and new to discover. For Harry, finding himself in a world where he has friends and is accepted and loved, even by people he has never met, like Molly Weasley, who steps in as a mother figure when he is lost at King’s Cross, it is a comfort to know he will never be alone, now that he has found Hogwarts. Filled with quirky characters and the beginning thharrypotterphilosp_2991278kreads of a mystery and plot that traverses seven books, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a great book for confident readers aged nine and older, including adults.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone opened the Wizarding World up to children and adults alike in 1997 across the world. Now twenty years old, it still endures as a favourite for many, and begins a series that becomes increasingly complex with each book. As Harry ages, the fans aged, and the darkness that threatened to engulf Harry’s world entered the books. The first book is light, with a few dark moments, but manages to get the balance right for a children’s book. It is a world of wonder but also a world where nothing is certain, and you learn to trust your friends.

The Harry Potter series is a favourite, and the first book is a nice introduction to the series. Harry got a new generation of children interested in reading, and that is a good thing.

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Harry Potter – 20th anniversary editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Twenty Years of Harry Potter – 1997 – 2017

raven-hb-20On the 26th of June, 2017, it will have been twenty years since the slyth-hb-20first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. Like all good ideas, Harry Potter started as a seedling idea on a train journey, and soon became a worldwide sensation and phenomenon – selling 450 million copies worldwide, and being translated into 79 languages.

gryff-20To mark the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Bloomsbury is reissuing special twentieth anniversary editions in the house colours in both paperback and hard cover. Levi Pinfold has illustrated the crests for each house, and on the black hardcovers, the crests are in the respective house colours: red for Gryffindor, yellow for Hufflepuff, blue for Ravenclaw and green for Slytherin, with striped page edges. In the paperbacks, the covers and edges of the paper are in the house colours, with the crests in black. gryff-hb-20

The crests have been inspired by traditional heraldry and coats of arms, whilst incorporating images that represent the charactehuff-hb-20ristics of the houses. These designs were created by Levi Pinfold, a Kate Greenaway Medal winner, and will also contain three illustrations within the books, to go with the additional information about the houses. These editions will be published at the beginning of June, and cost $16.99 for the paperback, and $27.99 for the hardcover in Australia.

raven-20Harry Potter is a story that has inspired many children to read since it was released in 1997, and continues tohuff-20 do so, forming a large part of childhood for many. It continues to gather fans and older fans pass their love onto others, sharing the magic of Harry, Ron and Hermione for years to come. These twentieth anniversary editions will be a great addition to any shelf.

slyth-20Alongside these new covers, Bloomsbury will be marking the celebration with various events, and competitions.

Keep a look out for these fabulous editions celebrating twenty years of one of the best-loved series and casts of characters of the past twenty years in literature.

Which house are you in?

 

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