ENGL 825 "Harry Potter and Literary History "

Fall 2010 ~ Tuesdays, 7:05 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Web Resources | Message Board

Class Discussion Schedule 

Professor Westman
108 English/ Counseling Services; 532-2171
Office Hours: M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m. and by app't


Required Texts
Melissa Anelli, Harry, A History (2009) (Pocket Books)
Jane Austen, Emma (1815) (Oxford)
Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach (1961) (Puffin)
Roddy Doyle, The Van (1991) from The Barrytown Trilogy(Penguin)
C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) (HarperCollins)
E. Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) (Puffin)
Philip Pullman, “His Dark Materials” Trilogy: The Golden Compass (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The
Amber Spyglass
(2000) (Knopf, published Sept 2002)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998) (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) (Scholastic)
Jonathan Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand (2003) (Miramax/Hyperion)
Class Packs for ENGL 825/440 (Available at Eisenhower Copy Center)
Additional critical readings (Available in ECS 126 or online)

Course Description and Objectives
In this seminar, we will explore J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series within literary history by reading the novels themselves and the works of Rowling's antecedents, influences, and contemporaries. To place the series within literary history, we will consider a variety of related issues, including genre, narrative form, audience, marketing, gender, and fan culture. Our over-arching goal will be to map the complex intersection of literary and cultural concerns that both create and perpetuate this best-selling and award-winning series. Our emphasis will fall more towards novels than critical theory, but our secondary readings will prompt theoretically informed discussions about the authors, their works, and the Harry Potter phenomenon.
Our objectives are as follows:

Readings and Class Participation: Given the learning outcomes stated above, this class will foreground discussion. Class participation is therefore expected and will count for 20% of your final grade. This portion of your grade includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the online message board (further information below). Excessive absences from our weekly meeting (two or more) may result in failure of the course.

Attendance: Your attendance is important, but I recognize that the unexpected will happen. Therefore, you will not be penalized for your first absence. However, subsequent absences will lower your final course grade; excessive absences (three or more) or excessive lateness/early departure may result in failure of the course. While I appreciate your offering explanations for your absence, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from the Graduate School or an official notice of illness from the Health Center or your doctor. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out from another class member any announcements or assignments.

Leading Class Discussion: Seminar participants will sign up individually or in pairs to lead class discussion for one of our class sessions, usually for the first half of the session. (A sign-up sheet will be available at our second class meeting.) Questions and topics for discussion should highlight issues or themes or queries you think we should address. Critical commentaries or historical context assigned for that class session can be included, too, to help us explore the primary reading. Feel free to use this opportunity to your advantage, as you look ahead to the final paper! Note: Seminar participants should contact me in at least one day in advance to confirm the focus they will take when leading discussion and provide me with a draft of discussion questions, so we can coordinate our plans.

Online Message Board : To offer another venue for discussion, we’ll be using an online message board in K-State Online. Each week, each student is required to post at least one paragraph-length comment about the materials we’re reading and discussing in class. I will read these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness both to our readings and to your classmates’ comments in class and on the board. I’ll provide some weekly question prompts as I follow these conversations, and I may also participate, but I see the message board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven’t addressed – or addressed fully or to your satisfaction – during our regular class meetings.

The weekly bulletin board will run from Wednesday to Wednesday, to encourage you to post right after as well as before our weekly class discussions, but I encourage you to contribute your ideas throughout the week and to check the board for others’ postings. Your postings do not need to be long, but they do need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments whenever possible. I will offer models of successful comments early in the semester.

To post to the message board, follow these directions:
  1. Go to my homepage at http://www.ksu.edu/english/westmank/ and click on our course (ENGL 825), and then "Message Board" to login to K-State Online and go directly to the "Message Board." (You may also login to the K-State Online course page for ENGL 825, click on "Collaboration" and then select "Message Board.")
  2. You should see all the messages posted to date and the newest threads ones first.
  3. To post, choose to "reply," so you can engage directly in the conversation and your message can "thread" beneath the one you're responding to. I also encourage you to change the subject line so it reflects the content of your message.


Critical Writing: During the semester, you will be doing different kinds of critical writing: not only informal postings to the message board, but also more formal response papers and an essay review, all of which will lead towards your final paper: a 20-page essay which contributes to the current critical conversation about Rowling's series.

Response papers, your essay review, and your final paper should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 10- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, spell-checked, and use the appropriate MLA citation format. These papers are due by the date and time on the syllabus; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day late.

Response papers are designed to ready you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in your final paper. In your response paper, you should not repeat previous class discussions or provide a mere summary of the reading. Instead, your response should begin to analyze the primary and secondary reading assigned for that class session, selecting an issue or theme or question you feel to be significant. During the semester, you will write five response papers (2 pp in length) in response to our readings. Everyone will write a response paper for our first set of readings on school stories; for the remaining four response papers, you may choose which four novels or reading assignments you would like to discuss, being sure to choose two that are not novels in Rowling’s series and two that are. Response papers are due at the start of class on the day we begin our discussion of the reading. Responses will be graded on a 1-5 scale: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I do not accept late response papers.

We’ll discuss the essay review (4-5 pp.) and the final paper (20 pp.) in the weeks ahead.

A note on sources: a "Works Cited" page should accompany any assignment that cites books and other outside sources, and you should use the MLA method for documenting sources. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that the work is your own and that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources. The University’s Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another’s ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you have any questions, please ask. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course.

Online and video resources: Along with some required online reading, I will refer you to additional resources available online or on video to complement our readings and discussions. Links within the online "Schedule of Classes" will take you to related online resources. I will add and update these resources as the semester progresses; if you locate a site or page which you find valuable, please let me know, and I'll consider adding it to the existing links.

Email: I highly recommend email as a way of touching base with me about your work for the class -- a kind of virtual office hours. You can send me queries about reading or writing assignments, your thesis statement for an essay, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I check my email throughout the day, but please remember that I am not perpetually online.

Conferences: I want you to succeed in this course, and I am happy to meet with you about your work and your progress. I encourage you to see me before exams or papers are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to stop by during office hours (M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m.), or contact me by phone or email to arrange a more convenient time to meet.

Note: If you have any condition such as a physical or learning disability that will make it difficult for you to carry out the work as I have outlined it or which will require academic accommodations, please notify me in the first two days of the course.

Grading: The response papers (20%), the essay review (10%), and class participation (20%) will count for half of your grade. The final writing project – a 20-page essay (50%) – completes the requirements.

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change.)

Note: All assigned reading should be completed by the date listed.
[CP]= Class Pack [X]= Xerox [W]=Web

August 24 The Beginning: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1997, 1998) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998, 1999).
31 School Stories: Thomas Hughes, excerpts from Tom Brown's School Days (1857) [CP]; Enid Blyton, First Term at Malory Towers (1946) [CP]. Roald Dahl, excerpt from Boy; Pratchett, excerpt from Pyramids (1984) [CP]; Response Paper #1 Due (2 pp)
September 7 Realism: Austen, Emma (1815); Doyle, The Van (1991)
Booth, from The Rhetoric of Fiction ; Recommended: Westman, “Perspective, Memory, and Moral Authority: The Legacy of Jane Austen in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter”; Perrson,“‘The culchies have fuckin’ everythin’: Internal Exile in Roddy Doyle’s The Barrytown Trilogy” [all X]
  14 Fantasy (I): E. Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904); Clement Freud, Grimble (1968) [CP]; Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach (1961); Rowling, "Let Me Tell You a Story" (2000); Rowling, "Foreword" to Families Like Us: The One Parent Families Good Book Guide (2000); and "The Not Especially Fascinating Life So Far of J. K. Rowling" (1998) [all CP]

Fantasy (II): C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950); Lewis, “On Stories” and “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” [X]; Gilead, “Magic Abjured: Closure in Children’s Fantasy Fiction” [CP]

28 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999). Literary Value, Readership, and Marketing (I): Philip Hensher, "Harry Potter, give me a break" (2000); Harold Bloom, "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes" (2000); Jessy Randall, "Wizard Words: The Literary, Latin, and Lexical Origins of Harry Potter's Vocabulary" (2001); Nel, "You Say 'Jelly,' I Say 'Jell-O': Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language" [all CP]
October 5

Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000). Gender: Ximena Gallardo C. and C. Jason Smith, "Cinderfella: J. K. Rowling's Wily Web of Gender"; Schoefer, "Harry Potter's Girl Trouble"; Dresang, "Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender" [all CP]; Pugh and Wallace, "Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series" [X]; Recommended: Westman, "Specters of Thatcherism: Contemporary British Culture in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series" (2002)

  12 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003). Literary Value, Readership, and Marketing (II): Jack Zipes, "The Phenomenon of Harry Potter, or Why All the Talk?" (2001); John Pennington, "From Elfland to Hogwarts, or the Aesthetic Trouble with Harry Potter" (2002); A.S. Byatt, "Harry Potter and the Childish Adult" (2003); Sarah Green, "Letter to the Editor" (2003); Donnelly, "Paperback Writer" (2004); Philip Nel, "Is There a Text in This Advertising Campaign?: Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter" (2005) [all CP]
  M 18 Paragraph-length description of paper topic due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119.
  19 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005). Religious Concerns: The Onion's "Harry Potter Books Spark Rise in Satanism Among Children" (2000); "Did you know??????" (email, 2001); Kimbra Wilder Gish, "Hunting Down Harry Potter: An Exploration of Religious Concerns About Children's Literature" (2000); Nancy Churnin, "Easing Up on Harry Potter" (2005); Griesinger, "Harry Potter and the 'Deeper Magic'" (2002) [all CP].
Rowling Speaks: J. K. Rowling's website [W]; "The Leaky Cauldron Interview with Joanne Kathleen Rowling," Parts 1-3 (2005) [W]
M 25 Wizard rock concert, 6:00-8:00pm, Manhattan Public Library (optional but highly recommended).
26 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007).
Revisiting Earlier Themes: Horne, "Harry and the Other: Answering the Race Question in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter" (2010) [X]; Pugh and Wallace, "A Postscript to 'Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series'" (2008) [X]; Westman, "The Weapon We Have is Love" (2008) [X]; "Snape's Supposed Great Love, or, Why Book 7 Doesn't Make Snape Any Less Interesting" [CP]
  F 29 Essay review (4-5 pp.) due to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.
November 2 Fan Culture: Wizard Rock, Websites, HP Cons, HPA, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Guest participant: Cheryl Klein, Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books
Anelli, Harry: A History; Tosenberger, "'Oh my God, the Fanfiction!'
Dumbledore's Outing and the Online Harry Potter Fandom
" (2008) [W]; Jenkins, "Night of a Thousand Wizards" (2010) [W]
  9 Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand (2003); Pullman, The Golden Compass (1995)
Workshop for Paper (I): Thesis, Outline, and "Works Cited" to date
16 Pullman, The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000)
"Talking to Philip Pullman"; Gooderham, "Fantasizing It As It Is: Religious Language in Philip Pullman's Trilogy, His Dark Materials"; Gruner, "Teach the Children: Education and Knowledge in Recent Children's Fantasy" [all X]
23 Thanksgiving Break
  30 Workshop for Paper (II): Full Draft and "Works Cited"
December M 6 Paper (20 pages, with abstract) due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119.
7 Presentation of Papers


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Email: westmank@ksu.edu
Last updated 6 December 2010