Course:Harry Potter by JK Rowling

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Harry Potter by JK Rowling

CRWR 501P 003
Advanced Writing of Poetry
  • Instructor:Dr. Bronwen Tate
  • Email:
  • Office: Buchanan E #456
Important Course Pages

For those who are unfamiliar with it, Harry Potter follows the series’s namesake, an orphan boy who finds out he has magical powers and is invited to study magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In addition to his studies, Harry faces the Dark wizard Voldemort as the latter works to regain power after his defeat at the same battle which left Harry an orphan.

Harry Potter is widely considered one of the most successful young adult series of all time. It has transcended from a book series to an industry spanning literature, films, merchandise, toys, and theme parks. For many people growing up in the late nineties or early aughts, Harry Potter was a defining cultural event. Unfortunately, Harry Potter’s creator JK Rowling actively expresses problematic views on social media platforms like Twitter. Fans have been prompted to look more deeply into the text to find reflections of Rowling’s bigotry, revealing anti-semetic symbolism, racist undertones, and anti-gay rhetoric.

I can’t think of an inspiration more conflicted to me than Harry Potter. As a Gen-Z born to Gen-X parents, I was practically raised on the series. I reread and rewatched the books and movies at least yearly, collected merchandise, and even visited the exhibit at Universal Studios in Florida (where I bought a wand that still lives on my bookcase). Even though I am appalled by Rowling’s behavior on social media, I can’t deny the overwhelming nostalgia that comes from interacting with the world she created. It feels like a past life: a part of myself that I am ashamed to engage with.

Though it’s hard to grapple with, I can see Harry Potter’s influence on my work. It would be hard to avoid its impact considering that young adult literature is one of my main genres. My sense of whimsy was particularly developed by this series, which can be seen in my YA work as well as my poetry. I also see its influence in my narration style; Harry Potter taught me the importance of a cheeky narrator, especially in children’s literature. This section of a “novel” I wrote at age 15 (yikes) demonstrates my writing style at a time when my life was saturated with Harry and his friends:

“Almost a half hour later, the bus drops me at the corner where the library is. I gather my things and trek up the icy walk. When I make it through the foyer and enter the actual library, I see Arthur sitting at the table… along with all his other cronies. And - I groan inaudibly - Grace and Cecelia.”

Another area which was influenced by Harry Potter is the actual importance of books themselves to my practice. I look to my relationship with literature for inspiration; the more I read, the more I write. Harry Potter defined my affinity for reading, and therefore developed my relationship with literature. This poem, though it was written more recently, demonstrates the way I can be inspired by literature:


he curls around her, him on top of the blanket, her snuggled underneath, a spray of white-blonde curls across the pillow. a father reads to his daughter, he says. his voice sounds like how every book should be read, she thinks, as he rattles off the first chapter of 'little house in the big woods'. he shows her how to follow along, he tells her what kind of wood houses were made out of, how you preserve venison, as she asks, never impatient. he must know that she is like him, needing to know everything as it occurs to her, and he must know that she will remember his answers into adulthood. he must know that he is showing her how to do this herself. he must know that he is showing her how to leave him. but for now, she listens to his book-reading voice, as she did the night before and the night before, and asks her questions until her voice is too heavy to raise. she will ask him to sing 'song for the mira' and she will learn it by heart so she can sing along. she won't notice the sadness in his eyes when he realizes how quickly she learns.


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