ENGL 825 "Harry Potter and Literary History"

Fall 2016 ~ 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)
J. K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy (2012) (Little, Brown)
J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) (Scholastic)
Jonathan Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand (2003) (Miramax/Hyperion)
Class Packs for ENGL 825 (Available online via K-State Online)
Additional critical readings, videos (Available 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 learning outcomes 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: As part of the class participation grade, seminar participants will sign up individually or in pairs to initiate 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 for class discussion (4-5 in number) should highlight issues or themes or queries you think we should address in our class discussion of the assigned texts for that day. 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! After conferring about and drafting the questions, participants drafting discussion questions should email me the questions by 7 p.m. the night before; I will confirm receipt and offer any suggestions for the order or focus of the 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 Canvas 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 in the discussion, but I see the message board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we have'’t addressed – or addressed fully or to your satisfaction – during our regular class meetings. The work contributed to the message board can become source material for more formal writing assignments.

The weekly message board will run from Saturday to Friday, 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 and messages 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. Feel free to create a subject line that reflects the content of your contribution.


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 12-15-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 11- 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. (Note: The University's Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course.)

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 four 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 three response papers, you may choose which three novels or reading assignments you would like to discuss, being sure to choose one that is not a novel 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 (12-15 pp.) in the weeks ahead.

A note on sources: a "Works Cited" list or 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.

Multi-Media Project: You will choose one of four possible multi-media projects to complete during the semester. Your multi-media project can be submitted on any class day but must be turned in no later than Tuesday November 29. Each project should demonstrate insight and understanding of the text with which it connects, should be thoughtfully constructed, and should be presented professionally with attention to detail.  Refer to the grading rubrics (posted in K-State Online as of August 26) for detailed grading criteria. The assignment will be distributed next week, but here are brief descriptions:

Online and video resources: Along with some required online reading and viewing, 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. Any student with a disability who needs a classroom accommodation, access to technology, assistance during an emergency evacuation, or other assistance in this course should contact the Student Access Center (formerly Disability Support Services) and/or me. The SAC serves students with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Academic Honesty: Kansas State University has an Honor System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one’s work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. The honor system website can be reached <http://www.k-state.edu/honor/>. A component vital to the Honor System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: "On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work." If you have any questions about your work in relation to the Honor System, please ask.

Expectations for Student Conduct: All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article VI, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.

Statement of Copyright: Copyright 2016 as to this syllabus and all course materials and lectures. During this course students are prohibited from selling notes to or being paid for taking notes by any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course. In addition, students in this class are not authorized to provide class notes or other class-related materials to any other person or entity, other than sharing them directly with another student taking the class for purposes of studying, without prior written permission from the professor teaching this course.

Grading: The response papers (20%), the multi-media project (10%), the essay review (10%), and class participation (20%) will count for just over half of your grade. The final writing project – a 12-15-page essay and accompanying abstract (40%) – completes the requirements.

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change.)

Note: All assigned reading should be completed by the date listed.
[CP]= Online Class Pack posted to K-State Online. [W]=Web.

August 23 The Beginning: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1997, 1998) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998, 1999).
  30 School Stories: Thomas Hughes, excerpts from Tom Brown's School Days (1857); Enid Blyton, First Term at Malory Towers (1946). Roald Dahl, excerpt from Boy; Pratchett, excerpt from Pyramids (1984) [CP]. Response Paper #1 Due (2 pp)
September 6 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” [CP].
  13 Fantasy (I): E. Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904). Clement Freud, Grimble (1968); 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) [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”; Gilead, “Magic Abjured: Closure in Children’s Fantasy Fiction” [CP].

27 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" [CP].
October 4

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"; Pugh and Wallace, "Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series" [all CP]; Recommended: Westman, "Specters of Thatcherism: Contemporary British Culture in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series" (2002) [CP].

  11 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) [CP].
  18 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) [CP].
Rowling Speaks: J. K. Rowling's website [W]; "The Leaky Cauldron Interview with Joanne Kathleen Rowling" Parts 1-3 (2005): Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 [W]
M 24 Paragraph-length description of paper topic due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119.
25 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); Pugh and Wallace, "A Postscript to 'Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series'" (2008); Westman, "The Weapon We Have is Love" (2008); "Snape's Supposed Great Love, or, Why Book 7 Doesn't Make Snape Any Less Interesting" [CP]; Bennett, "What a Racebent Hermione Granger Really Represents" (2015) [CP, W]; Ramaswamy, "Can Hermione Be Black?" (2015) [W]; Jacobs, "Harry Potter and the Battle against Bigotry" (2014) [W].
  M 31 Essay review (4-5 pp.) due to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m. M.L.A. documentation format.
November 1

Fan Culture: Wizard Rock, Websites, HP Cons, HPA, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Special Guest: Paul DeGeorge, co-founder of Harry and the Potters and the Harry Potter Alliance.
Anelli, Harry: A History (2009). Tosenberger, "'Oh my God, the Fanfiction!' Dumbledore's Outing and the Online Harry Potter Fandom" (2008); A Very Potter Musical (2009); "Hello: Harry Potter Book of Mormon Parody"; Jenkins, "Night of a Thousand Wizards" (2010) [W].

  8 Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand (2003); Pullman, The Golden Compass (1995). Workshop for Paper: Thesis, Outline, and "Works Cited" to date
15 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" [CP].
22 Thanksgiving Break
  29 Life After Harry: Rowling, The Casual Vacancy (2012). The Battle of Hogwarts (2011); Harry Potter and the 10 Years Later (2012) [W]. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016); Tolentino, “Finally, A New Harry Potter Story Worth Reading” (2016) [W].
December M 5 Paper (12-15 pages) and abstract due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119. M.L.A. documentation format.
  6 Presentation of Papers


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Last updated 30 September 2016