HPEF presents Infinitus 2010, a Harry Potter conference            TEXT  MENU

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July 15-18, 2010
Orlando, Florida

A Feminist Perspective on The Harry Potter Universe
Leisa Clark, M.A.; Amanda Firestone, M.A.; Sally Gage and Jessica Collard

The intertextual polysemy of the Harry Potter novels becomes apparent upon multiple readings. On the surface, the books can be read as fairy tales for children, but the audiences' enjoyment and understanding of the texts changes with the reader's age and experience. Are the stories simplistic tales or complicated commentaries on the post-modern social condition of Western civilization? As the books are so multi-layered as to easily allow for multiple interpretations, one can just begin skimming the surface of how they reflect society and gender roles, et cetera, but how does one analyze what is primarily a children's series? One way to look at the books is to examine the stories through the lens of feminist theory and criticism.

This panel, consisting of four graduate students from the University of South Florida, will look at the intersections of race, class and gender in the Harry Potter universe and how these complexities create both a disconnect and a connection to the Muggles with whom the wizards co-exist. Through the framework of contemporary feminist scholarship, topics such as Hermione’s role in the series, good mothers vs. bad mother, discrimination against non-human magic users and equality at Hogwarts will be examined. Each of the participants will address their specific area of research and how it fits with the overall subject of the panel, and then all will be open to discussions with audience members.


Leisa Clark, M.A. is a Visiting Instructor in the Department of Women's Studies at the University of South Florida, where she is also a graduate student in Humanities and Culture Studies. She earned a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Women's Studies from the University of South Florida. Her areas of concentration are gender and pop cultures, body image, American and British history, science fiction and fantasy, and food studies. She has read the Harry Potter series in English and French and re-reads them every year.

Amanda Firestone, M.A. received her B.A. degree from Penn State in 2005 in film and video. From there she went onto Sussex University located in Brighton, England, to complete her M.A. in Gender Studies and Media. She currently is working toward her PhD in Communication, focusing largely on critical cultural studies, at University of South Florida. Amanda has been a Harry Potter fan for a long time, and in fact owns two complete sets of the series: a British version and American version.

Sally Gage is a graduate student in the Department of Women's Studies at the University of South Florida. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology at the same university. Her areas of concentration include folklore, werewolves and the supernatural.

Jessica Collard is a graduate student from the University of South Florida who received a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology in 2009. She is currently working on her master's degree in Women's Studies at USF. She is currently interested in studying the role of women in the media, particularly in television programs and films.
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