Harry Potter Academia

We're very pleased to announce that our Harry Potter Academia content will be headed up by the team behind Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion, the first full-length undergraduate module on Harry Potter, based in the University of Durham's Education Department. The team will be delivering lectures and seminars on all things Potter to Nine Worlds attendees, as well as hosting an opening forum with the whole team on Friday, and a closing plenary to wrap up on Sunday. Harry Potter fans might also want to check out Muggle Quidditch, and the Harry Potter live action role play session, elsewhere around the convention!


Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lives
An introductory overview of the themes suggested by studying the Harry Potter series and the wider Potterverse. The series raises a number of really big issues, some of which will be dealt with over the next couple of days and form the basis of the lecture and seminar sessions.

Four Houses or One?
How many times have you been sorted – at home, at school, at work, with your friends? How important is the Sorting Ceremony at Hogwarts? Is it the student who makes the house or the house that makes the student?

Love and Death in the Potterverse
These twin themes dominate the whole series. It seems that death is on every page – and it is one death in particular that changes everything for us, both as readers and viewers. Whilst there is the little matter of the room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times – for in the end love proves to be the most powerful magic.

Magic is Might - Prejudice in the Potterverse
The whole Harry Potter series can be seen as a warning against the evils of prejudice. Yet are we not all prejudiced in some way – and why do we forgive good old Arthur Weasley and not Lucius Malfoy? ‘It all comes down to blood, as I was saying the other day. Bad blood will out.’ Now who said that?

Is Harry ours? Harry Potter and Britishness
‘I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.’ Fabulous, and so British – yes? Of the films JK Rowling said, ‘Got to be British, got to be British.’ Well are they; and if so, what Britain do they represent?

Forgiveness, Atonement, Redemption
This final lecture will look at how these three powerful and inter-related themes impact on the lives of three characters – Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape and Harry himself. ‘Because deep down you know that you deserve to be punished. Don't you, Mr. Potter?’


Hermione Granger: Feminist Icon?
How can some people view Hermione as a mere enabler, someone who just does what the boys want so that they can get all the glory, whilst others see her as one of the strongest characters in the whole series? Which is nearer the truth – weak-willed do-gooder and swot or female heroine and rôle model – surely she can’t be both?

The Quest for the Holy Horcrux: Harry Potter as a modern epic
This will link in with King Arthur and the Age of Chivalry to include a gallop through Dumbledore’s Office, the Divination, Charms and DADA classrooms before ending up with Transfiguration and a look at Hogwarts as the Great School of Morals.

From Hogwarts to Hobbiton: A Musical Journey of Love and Friendship
Although the main focus will be on Harry and his adventures, there will be time to explore similar musical themes in Middle Earth. What happens to our feelings when we watch a familiar scene and then change the music? Just how much are we manipulated by the music?

Scarring and Branding in the Potterverse
So much has been made of that scar that we often overlook the many other wounds Rowling inflicts on her most beloved characters. What do these physiognomic features suggest about identity? What scars have been inherited from other literary legends? Most crucially, is branding physical defamation, defection or perfection?

Harmione, Romione, Dramione
Fan fiction and heteronormative shipping in the wider Potterverse. We will also explore fan art and fan videos. Be prepared to come and discuss your favourites!

Meet The Team

Martin Richardson is Director of Education Studies at the University of Durham and architect of Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion, the first University module of its kind in Europe. He gives regular media interviews on all things Potter. Once the current exam season is over he has promised to get his website, thePotterverse.com, incorporating the Potterversity, up and running. As well as Pottering he is interested in and writes on national identity and citizenship. He is also a Dr. Who fan and has recently become hooked on Game of Thrones.

Samantha Leach is reading English and Education at Durham University and will graduate in June. After studying Martin Richardson's 'Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion' module she decided to do her undergraduate dissertation on the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, combing her love for Rowling and Tolkien's masterpieces with her passion for music. As a classically trained singer, she is interested in the power of music, its ability to move people and how it can not only add to the enchantment of the stories, but also facilitate the transcendence of the themes.

Anna Llewellyn has worked at the School of Education, Durham University since 2005, having previously worked in schools teaching mathematics. Anna’s research interests are in the areas of: discourses, normalisation, mathematics, identity, gender and policy. Her wider work includes leading on diversity and equality in the department. In particular, this includes running workshops and support groups for LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools. She is a lifelong Buffy fan.

Sarah Spikesley teaches English and Drama by day and is a post-graduate and college tutor at Durham University by night. She is fascinated by the boundaries between fiction and reality, in particular how literature is received by the public and how it is assimilated into contemporary culture

Kate Symes-Thompson studied English and Education at Durham University, graduating in June. Her undergraduate dissertation examined the Harry Potter series in comparison to chivalric and classical texts. Kate's particular interest lies in the fact that Harry's alternate universe can make our own world more transparent for its readership. She will start teaching in London in September.