In the spring of 2017, students will have the opportunity to take an English course that delves into the magical world of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter.”
Taught by Dr. Noel Harold Kaylor, a professor of English, the class will take a deeper look into the series as more than a simple fantasy story.
“We are going to get into the literary quality of Rowling as a writer, the philosophical issues dealt with in the books, the educational issues and the magic,” he said.
Courses here and at other universities have expanded to include literary works that are popular among young adults.
“There have been courses taught here and elsewhere, like Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” and I thought, ‘Well why not “Harry Potter?’” Kaylor said. “So I threw out the idea. Dr. Earl Ingram [Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics] enthusiastically received it. ”
Dr. Kirk Curnutt, professor and chair of the English department, said that studying contemporary literature is important to fully understand the industry and how readers use books at this time in our history.
“In the case of a ‘Harry Potter’ class, studying Rowling’s books really demonstrates for us how crucial young adult literature is to forming readers’ lifelong relationships with books, the emotional investment they place in sagas and how the use of myths and magic in the books dramatize contemporary attitudes to imagination and creativity,” he said.
The class will cover all seven books by breaking up into seven groups and assigning each group a book to study and present to the class. According to AR Book Find.com, the largest volume, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” contains 257, 154 words. Kaylor said expecting students to read each one is unrealistic.
“Some volumes are smaller, but they’re not that small, so the idea that everyone is going to read everything is asking too much,” he said. “I’ll be responsible for delivering the philosophical issues and the history of magic, the literary qualities that make “Harry Potter” appealing to adults as well as young adults.”
Nathan Smith, a senior computer science major from Florala, Alabama, agrees with Kaylor that there are many lessons to be learned from studying the “Harry Potter” world.
Smith, who is minoring in leadership development, pulled a character from the book for an assignment in a class about great leaders; ironically, the leader he chose is the villain of the series.
“I chose Lord Voldemort kind of on a whim because we were told we could choose a fictional character if we wanted to,” he said.
The assignment was to decide on a fictional or real person from the past or present, find information written about this leader and present it to the class.
“I ended up finding an article about 10 great things to learn from Lord Voldemort,” he said. “If you view morality as subjective, then Lord Voldemort is a fantastic leader because everything he did was great in the sense that he was a great influence on his followers, he was very passionate, had a lot of conviction and didn’t let things stand in his way.”
The course will be available for students who have six credits in 2000-level courses, and the three credits from this course will also count toward English students’ major credits.
The class will meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. Kaylor said all 18 seats have been filled, but to contact him if anyone is interested in joining the class.