HPEF presents Infinitus 2010, a Harry Potter conference            TEXT  MENU

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July 15-18, 2010
Orlando, Florida

Harry Potter and Virginia Tech: Studying the Phenomenon in the College Classroom  
Kathryn V. Graham, Heidi Y. Lawrence, Orlando Dos Reis

This panel will include a Virginia Tech English Department faculty member, a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Writing, and an undergraduate English major who is also tutoring at the local high school. We are united by our strong interest in Harry Potter and how J.K. Rowling's novels can be used in a college Honors colloquium, a larger special topics course, in furthering research and writing in scholarly disciplines, and in  encouraging younger students to form reading and writing communities. The three panelists have used the Harry Potter series in teaching and tutoring, but this interest has also led to conference presentations at the Children's Literature Association annual conference, Modern Critical Approaches to Children's Literature, and the Popular Culture Association.

Kathryn Graham will present on her Harry Potter Phenomenon course that ran first as a small Honors colloquium, and then she'll discuss the challenges of changing the course to meet the demands of 70 students rather than 15. She will be happy to share syllabi and ideas for projects and paper topics. Using the idea of the phenomenon, she'll explore the ways students come to understand the changes to global culture and how Rowling's novels may be among the most important works that grapple with our millennial anxieties.

Heidi Lawrence will talk about her independent study work and participating as a TA in Graham's Harry Potter Phenomenon course. Her research approaches the Harry Potter series as a means for discussing public rhetorics with undergraduate students. By discussing how the characters interact with institutional discourses in the books, such as those of the media, government, and family, students gain a new perspective on how rhetoric operates in our muggle world as well. She will be teaching class sessions and setting discussion forums that will enable the students to communicate these ideas and will share research, prompts, and responses with participants.

Orlando Dos Reis is an undergraduate who has already given a paper at a national conference on Harry Potter. While continuing to explore his own ideas about the series, he is also tutoring at the VT Writing Center and at Blacksburg High School. He will present on his work in high school classrooms and how discussion and interest groups centering on the Potter series can lead to sustained thinking and writing that better the skills of younger students. He hopes to use the Potter series as a springboard for younger readers to works they may be hesitant to study.
Together we hope to explore the connections between reading and teaching Harry Potter and the development of our own research and scholarly work.

Kathryn Graham is the assistant director of the Literature Language and Culture track of the English major at Virginia Tech. She teaches Literature for Children, Ethnic Literature for Children and The Harry Potter Phenomenon. She is currently Secretary of the Children's Literature Association and has published in Children's Literature, The ChLA Quarterly, and The Lion & the Unicorn.

Heidi Y. Lawrence is a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Writing in the English Department at Virginia Tech. She is currently a research assistant in the Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society, where she presently supports a project that examines the rhetoric of moral appeals.

Orlando Dos Reis is an undergraduate at Virginia Tech double-majoring in English and Communication Studies.
Formal Programming