ENGL 440 "Harry Potter's Library"

Spring 2009 ~ Thursdays, 7:05 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Web Resources | Message Board

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


Required Texts
Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach (Puffin)
C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (HarperCollins)
E. Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet (Puffin)
Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass (Knopf)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Scholastic)
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Scholastic)
Jonathan Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand (Miramax / Hyperion)
Class Packs for ENGL 440. Available at A&S Copy Center (Eisenhower 011) on 1/12/09.
Recommended Text
Anelli, Harry, A History (Pocket Books)
Note: Prerequisites for taking ENGL 440 include at least one of the following: English 125 (Honors English 2) or English 200 (Expository Writing 2). Also, please finish reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before the first day of class.

Course Description
This class will examine the Harry Potter phenomenon by reading the novels themselves and the works of Rowling's antecedents, influences, and contemporaries. We will approach these works from a variety of critical perspectives, and we will also consult selected secondary sources. In this class, education will not be a passive experience: I expect discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas.

Course Objectives

Readings and Class Participation: Any literature course is a reading-intensive experience, so plan accordingly! Our class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected and will count for 20% of your final grade. "Class participation" is not the same as just showing up and taking notes: you must be an active presence in the class. To participate, you must complete the reading assigned for each class session, think carefully about what you have read, and come to class ready to share your ideas. For each class, bring the appropriate book or course pack, so you can not only contribute to discussion but also mark passages that we discuss; this process will help you understand, remember, and review.

Your participation grade includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the Message Board in K-State Online. I will expect at least one posting a week from each student to the Message Board; the guidelines and instructions for using the Message Board appear below.

Attendance: Obviously, you can't participate effectively if you aren't in class. Since the University requires that students attend all classes in which they are enrolled, your attendance is required. You will not be penalized for your first absence; thereafter, further absences will jeopardize your final course grade. Excessive or repeated lateness will also jeopardize your final grade. Excessive absences (three or more -- that is, nine classroom hours) may result in failure of the course. If you wish to receive a passing grade in this class, then, attendance is important.

While I appreciate your offering explanations for absences, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your dean or an official notice of illness from the Health Center or your doctor. Classroom work or homework assignments missed due to absence cannot be made up. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out from another class member any announcements or assignments.

Quizzes: Expect a quiz at the start of most class sessions. Quizzes are designed to test your knowledge of the reading assigned for that class session and the critical skills we develop and practice during our discussions. The quizzes will consist of identifications and interpretive questions which will help you improve your critical skills and will allow me to evaluate those skills and your comprehension of the material.

I reserve the option to replace a quiz with a two-page, typed response paper, due at the start of class; if assigned, response papers would be in response to a particular interpretative question distributed at the previous class session. Quizzes (and response papers) will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5 points: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I will average the points at the end of the course after dropping the lowest grade.

Paper: You will write only one formal paper (5-7 pages) in this class: a persuasive argument in essay form, which will use one or two of our assigned texts to argue for your interpretation of the theme(s). If your paper is late, it will be penalized a full letter grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day it is late. Papers must be typed, double-spaced, with one inch margins and with a 10- or 12-point standard font; the pages should be spell-checked, proof-read, numbered, and stapled or paper-clipped together. Your name, my name, the date, and the type of assignment should appear in the upper-left hand corner of the first page.

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.

Examination: You will have a mid-term exam and a cumulative final exam. A missed exam counts as a zero; no make-up exams will be offered without an excuse from your dean or doctor.

Computing: Technology increasingly plays an important role in our academic and professional careers. Consequently, you will be asked to use some different kinds of technology, including a Message Board discussion and electronic resources. Our work with technology is designed not only as another forum for exploring our reading, but as a way for you to sharpen your communication skills and media skills.

Message Board: Beginning the first week of class, I’ll establish a message board for our class. Each student is required to post once a week about the materials we're studying in class. I will monitor 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 list.

An average posting should run about one or two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings do not need to be long; however, they 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. Your grade for these postings will become part of your class participation grade.

To post to the bulletin board, follow these directions:
  1. Go to my homepage at http://www.ksu.edu/english/westmank/ and click on our course (ENGL 440), and then "Bulletin 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 440, 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.

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 (T, U 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.

Quizzes 25%
Class Participation 20%
In-class 10%
Postings 10%
Paper 15%
Midterm 15%
Final Exam 25%

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change.)

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

January 15 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1997, 1998) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998, 1999).
22 Thomas Hughes, excerpts from Tom Brown's School Days (1857) [CP]; Enid Blyton, First Term at Malory Towers (1946) [CP]. Recommended: Roald Dahl, excerpt from Boy; Pratchett, excerpt from Pyramids (1984) [CP]
29 E. Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904); Rowling, "Let Me Tell You a Story" (2000) [CP]; Clement Freud, Grimble (1968) [CP]
February 5 C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
12 Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach (1961); Rowling, "Foreword" to Families Like Us: The One Parent Families Good Book Guide (2000) [CP] and "The Not Especially Fascinating Life So Far of J. K. Rowling" (1998) [CP]
19 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999). 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]

Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)

Also read at least one of the following: Westman, "Specters of Thatcherism: Contemporary British Culture in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series" (2002); 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]

Guest Speaker: Paul DeGeorge of the first wizard rock band Harry and the Potters

March 5 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), through Chapter 17 (373). Midterm Exam.
  Sat 7 Hallows and Horcruxes Ball: A Wizard Rock Concert for Literacy, 7 p.m. (Optional)
12 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), to end.
No Class -- Spring Break
26 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), through Chapter 19 (422)
April 2 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), to end.
  9 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), through Chapter 22 (444)
  16 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), to end.
23 Responses to the Harry Potter series
  • Literary Value and Marketing:
    • Jack Zipes, "The Phenomenon of Harry Potter, or Why All the Talk?" (2001) [CP]
    • John Pennington, "From Elfland to Hogwarts, or the Aesthetic Trouble with Harry Potter"(2002) [CP]
    • A.S. Byatt, "Harry Potter and the Childish Adult" [CP]
    • Sarah Green, "Letter to the Editor" (2003) [CP]
    • Donnelly, "Paperback Writer" (2004) [CP]
    • Philip Nel, "Is There a Text in This Advertising Campaign?: Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter" (2005) [CP]
  • Religious Concerns:
    • The Onion's "Harry Potter Books Spark Rise in Satanism Among Children" (2000) [CP]
    • "Did you know??????"(email, 2001) [CP]
    • Kimbra Wilder Gish, "Hunting Down Harry Potter: An Exploration of Religious Concerns About Children's Literature" (2000) [CP]
    • Nancy Churnin, "Easing Up on Harry Potter" [CP]
    • Griesinger, “Harry Potter and the ‘Deeper Magic’”(2002)
  • Rowling Speaks:
    • J. K. Rowling's website [W]
    • "The Leaky Cauldron/Mugglenet Interview with Joanne Kathleen Rowling": Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (2005) [W]
    • "J.K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall": preliminary transcript [W]
      • Optional: For more details, post-Deathly Hallows, see Accio Quote's overview of interviews and articles for 2007
    • ... and a fan response: “Snape’s Supposed Great Love, or, Why Book 7 Doesn’t Make Snape Any Less Interesting” [CP]
30 Jonathan Stroud , The Amulet of Samarkand (2003)
May F 1 Paper due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119
7 Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass (1995); review for final exam
14 Final Exam: Short Answer and Essay, 7:00-8:50 p.m.


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Email: westmank@ksu.edu
Last updated 15 April 2009