Edinboro Potterfest
HomeContact InformationScheduleImportance of Harry PotterQuestionCall for papers

Harry Potter: An Inspiration for Thinking

Dr Corbin Fowler

Edinboro University

     What if there were a school for the most gifted of children, no matter who their parents were nor how wealthy they were, founded on the virtues of steadfast hard work, intellectual studiousness, ambition, and courage? What if there were two boys, both orphaned, one who received love and the other who received none? What if they both grew up in a world where normalcy was highly valued and weirdos were shunned or dismissed? What if it often happened in their world that appearances concealed rather than revealed reality? What if it happened sometimes that popular kids enjoyed bullying and teasing kids they thought were weird? What if these kids in growing up had to face issues about the need to treat other creatures with respect, and that no creatures should be treated as slaves? What if they had to decide whether to stand up not only to their enemies, but also to their friends?

     Suppose these kids faced real battles with the forces of good and evil, battles that sometimes made them wonder whether they too were evil? Suppose they not only faced life and death struggles, but also learned of two very different ways of coping with death: one which seeks to conquer death in favor of natural immortality and the other which accepts the death of old age as a welcome friend. What if the heroic youth of this world decided it was better to remain vulnerable than to possess an ultimate weapon of power? Would such a world be for kids only, or would it open the door to serious adult issues?

     A fantasy, you say? The silly dreams of immature youth? Ah, yes, but what if that world spawned a new sport, a growing sport around the world? What if it inspired the creation of major theme parks in the USA and England? What if it inspired the creation of an international organization to fight for social justice? What if it inspired generations of kids to love reading? What if telling that story caused a poor single mother to become one of the wealthiest women in the world? What if this silly fantasy inspired boys and girls to believe in themselves and their ability to be smart and creative? What if this fantasy world was based on the premise that no power in the world is as strong or protective as love, and that domination, cruelty and murder are the worst evils? Would that world be a simple-minded dream, devoid of real world connections? That is the Harry Potter world. Some say the “real world” is not all it’s cracked up to be.

     In the world of Hogwarts prep school for young wizards, one of the four houses into which students are sorted is the House of Ravenclaw. Ravenclaw symbolizes the virtue of intellect and studiousness. From here originated the idea for the Ravenclaw Conferences. Why not take the many intellectual themes and issues posed in the Harry Potter stories as a springboard to examine those topics as they matter outside the fantasy world of Hogwarts?