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Source: Karin Westman, 785-532-2190, westmank@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847, jtorline@k-state.edu

Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

SIDEBAR: FAN RESPONSE TO HARRY POTTER REMAINS STRONG, K-STATE PROFESSOR SAYS

MANHATTAN -- Although the end of the Harry Potter film series may be near, there is no sign of the Harry Potter fan base "disapparating" any time soon.

Karin Westman, associate professor and expert on the Harry Potter series, has been studying the role of art in the books and how they have energized people to create art themselves.

Some examples of Harry Potter-inspired art include music, fan fiction, textile creation, artistic designs and costumed play. At a recent Harry Potter conference in Orlando, Fla., a group of 40 actors performed a musical, "The Final Battle." Written by Lena Gabrielle and Mallory Vance, the musical depicts the last battle at Hogwarts Castle in the seventh book.

Wizard rock is a musical genre created by Harry Potter fans that involves music and songs about different characters or events, Westman said. Currently there are more than 500 Wizard rock bands with names such as Harry and the Potters, The Whomping Willows and The Remus Lupins.

Many of these fans have taken a social justice response to Harry Potter, Westman said. The Harry Potter Alliance is a charity organization based on the principles of social justice and anti-prejudice that J.K. Rowling included in the books. The group's current project is a Deathly Hallows campaign, which is dedicated to destroying seven real-world "Horcruxes," such as starvation wages.

"What is interesting about these groups is that they value fan energy and interest in the series, and find ways to channel Rowling's themes into activities and possibilities for the community," Westman said.