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Muggle Magic: Honors Course Highlight

| Clare McCarty

I solemnly swear that this course is so good! Muggle Magic is designed and taught by author and poet Emily Anderson. The course was inspired by looking at generationally familiar stories like Harry Potter with fresh eyes. “This generation of students grew up with Harry Potter as a part of their world. This course will allow them to gain some critical distance on the stories that have saturated our culture and has become a multi-million dollar industry.” 

Harry Potter is far more than simply an entertaining coming of age story. It has deep themes, hidden meaning and social commentary that require further examination. Emily explains, “everything we imagine, create and enjoy is a cultural artifact that can tell us something about who we are, how we live and what we value.” While entertaining, Harry Potter tells us about ourselves as well as our culture in a way that’s digestible to the masses. 

Speaking of who we are, it’s nearly impossible to find a college aged person who has not sorted themselves into a Harry Potter house. This not only allows one to put themself in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but also serves as a personality test of sorts. Emily was sorted into Ravenclaw, which did not surprise her as she likes working with ideas more than almost anything. Her favorite character? Dumbledore, because he breaks all the rules and likes candy. That’s a message we can all get behind!

The Honors Program is delighted to offer students a course such as this that allows them to explore their interests while growing academically. The class is comprised of students from various backgrounds who are able to come together to delve deeper into their shared interest in the story. Emily described, “the ability to see something or someone that’s familiar to you and stop to pay close attention—to get to know something in all its complexity, articulate its features and understand how it came to be and why you react to it the way you do—that’s valuable in any field where you have to work with human beings.” Students end the semester with not only a deeper understanding of Harry Potter, but also an appreciation for the many implications of the lessons learned through its telling. 

While Emily Anderson is the instructor of the course, she is learning alongside the students. Her biggest take away so far? “Harry Potter would be a terrible president.” Check out HNRS 141 and stay tuned for similar Honors course offerings to come!