HPEF presents Infinitus 2010, a Harry Potter conference            TEXT  MENU

July 15-18, 2010
Orlando, Florida

Of Serpents, Stepmothers and Scapegoats: Slytherin House, Gender Stereotypes and the Feminine Shadow
bluestocking79 & Pythia_delphi  

Furtive and scheming, ambitious and manipulative, mysterious and malignant—such words apply to many descriptions of Slytherin House and its power-seeking members, yet they also aptly describe negative stereotypes associated with women that are far, far older than the Harry Potter universe, yet are nonetheless reflected within it. In this presentation, specific attention will be paid to the gendered imagery of the text, particularly that surrounding Slytherin House, which, with its serpent symbol, associations with the element Water and the discipline of Potions, and its defining characteristics of cunning and ambition, represents those stereotypically negative and reviled traits historically projected onto women. This association will be further reinforced by the investigation of examples within the text wherein the character of Severus Snape, the Head of Slytherin and the most prominent canon representative of that house, is consistently associated with traditionally feminine imagery and characteristics, cast in the fairytale role of `evil stepmother' and therefore the scapegoat for primal fear and anger. Attention will be paid to the analysis of the gendered symbolism and characteristics of the other Houses as represented in canon, culminating in an examination of the extent to which the bitter opposition and ongoing conflict between Slytherin and the overtly masculine Gryffindor House represents the struggle to ultimately integrate—or expel—the feared, hated feminine shadow into the self.

Bluestocking79 is a full-time PhD candidate in English Literature and a part-time author and reader of Snape-centric fanfiction. She cheerfully admits to being obsessed with the subject of Severus Snape and is always ready for some analysis and spirited debate. In her spare time, she is a beta reader, an admin at the OWL Archive and co-founder of HP Con Envy.

Pythia_delphi has a scientific background and is a medical doctor in real life, but has artistic pretensions within the HP fandom. She enjoys writing fanfiction and drawing fanart which feature her favourite character Severus Snape, with whom she has a rather unhealthy obsession. She enjoys heated meta-discussions, and spends a great deal of her spare time critically analysing the minutiae of the HP books.
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