HPEF presents Infinitus 2010, a Harry Potter conference            TEXT  MENU

July 15-18, 2010
Orlando, Florida

I Want To Do It Myself. Please Help Me: Abandonment and the Dichotomy of Yearning for Both Independence and Belonging
Jeanella Vennekotter

In this presentation, I will explore the consequences that ensue when the young characters in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels eagerly embrace an exciting new world of magic, darkness and danger. It is a world in which they are encouraged and often tacitly allowed, even forced, to take risks on their own but sometimes also a world in which the wise counsel they expect from parents, guardians, teachers, or other protectors is not available. I will argue that the absence of guidance caused by death, rejection, bad judgment or moral indifference creates voids that the children, even exceptional children, cannot easily bridge alone. It is through Harry, Dumbledore, the Dursley family, Sirius, Draco, Lucius, and Cedric and his father that J. K. Rowling most artfully conveys the importance of giving a child the freedom and the knowledge necessary to help him/her survive in both the Wizard and Muggle worlds but also the importance of providing the child with the support and wisdom that only those with experience and good judgment can teach. The dichotomy of being independent or accepting the advice of others and obeying the rules, of "fitting in," is not easily resolved except through wise choices, a point Dumbledore [ironically] himself makes. J. K. Rowling raises the question of adult credibility in the Wizard and Muggle worlds in which adult decisions are often unwise; in which advice is sometimes simply unavailable; or advice is withheld altogether, circumstances that implicitly force the children, especially Harry,  to act on their own, regardless of the consequences. Although, the focus of my paper will be on the Harry Potter novels, I will compare Harry's circumstances to others who confront this same dichotomy: Seph in Cinda Williams Chima's  Wizard Heir and Percy Jackson in Rick Riordan's `Lightning Thief series.

Full-time writer; just completed writing her first book. Lecturer. Jeanella is frequently invited by universities, churches, and schools to lecture on Harry Potter and fantasy novels. She was recruited by her local Barnes and Noble bookstore to lead a Harry Potter discussion group (Dumbledore's Army) She is a retired high school/college English Teacher (Advanced Placement, Honors, English Lit., etc.)
Degrees: B.A. (English), San Diego State University; M.A. (English), University of California at Riverside; Ph.D. (English Literature: Shakespeare, Medieval and Renaissance Drama, and Sixteenth-century Non-fictional Prose), University  of California at Riverside
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