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July 15-18, 2010
Orlando, Florida

Severus Snape is a Fiery Snake: How a Slytherin Became the Bravest Hero
Travis Prinzi

The last two words of Chapter 2 of Half-Blood Prince, “Spinner’s End,” are “fiery snake.”  These were very well-chosen words by J.K. Rowling, especially given what she wrote in Deathly Hallows. The term “fiery snake” is used to describe the third and binding magical movement of the Unbreakable Vow. Dumbledore said to Snape in “The Prince’s Tale,” “You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff.  You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon…”  In the book’s Epilogue, Harry called Snape “the bravest man I ever knew.

Snape is a “fiery snake” – a Gryffindor/Slytherin.  Those two words were chosen very carefully and deliberately, in the chapter which perhaps best illustrates Snape’s Gryffindor/Slytherin status, to foreshadow the bravery we’d learn about in Deathly Hallows from the words of Dumbledore and Harry about Snape. This presentation examines the character of Severus Snape, particularly his courage, despite all his failings, and explores how he became one of the most intriguing and controversial characters in literature. We'll look at Snape as shapeshifter, gothic hero-villain, and healer.


Travis  Prinzi is a popular author and speaker on the intersection of fantasy and politics, myth and culture in Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels.  Prinzi, author of Harry Potter & Imagination: The Way Between Two Worlds, appears on The Leaky Cauldron’s PotterCast as a “Potter Pundit.” He has been a featured speaker and led panel discussions at five Harry Potter conferences and has lectured on everything from Harry Potter to religion to education to hit TV shows like The Office at university campuses and libraries in the United States and Canada. He collects and edits the best in Harry Potter scholarship each year for Zossima Press, Hog’s Head Conversations: Essays on Harry Potter, the first volume of which was published in July 2009. PubCasts from The Hog’s Head feature Travis’ reflections on everything ‘Harry Potter’ as well as discussions with the best and brightest of Fandom. Travis holds graduate degrees in education and theology from the University of Rochester and Northeastern Seminary. He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife Tricia, daughter Sophia, and their dog, Moses.
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