How reading the “Harry Potter” books made me a better person

Thursday, 18 September, 2014

Not only will you be treated to a gripping yarn when you read the “Harry Potter” books, you may also emerge a better person, says a study that found readers of the saga tended to become more empathic by the time they had read through the series:

For decades it’s been known that an effective means of improving negative attitudes and prejudices between differing groups of people is through intergroup contact – particularly through contact between “in-groups,” or a social group to which someone identifies, and “out-groups,” or a group they don’t identify with or perceive as threatening. Even reading short stories about friendship between in- and out-group characters is enough to improve attitudes toward stigmatized groups in children.

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Eternity is a long time to spend writing Harry Potter books

Monday, 10 March, 2014

By applying a differing interpretation to the prophecy that either Harry Potter, or his nemesis Voldemort, must kill the other in order to survive, could mean that the only one way either can actually die, is to be killed by the other.

As we know one did in fact kill the other (I’ll refrain from giving away the ending away on the off chance you still don’t know what happened…), meaning the survivor is now immortal. Well, that’s one take on the wording of prophecy in any event.

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Even if Muggles can’t fly on brooms they can still play Quidditch

Friday, 25 May, 2012

Quidditch, photo by Natalie Mattison

Though players lack the ability to fly around on their brooms, their enthusiasm for Quidditch, the sports game enjoyed by Harry Potter and his Hogwarts’ friends, appears to be no less diminished, if the reasonably popular “Muggle” version of the game is anything to go by.

Some 2,000 chipper, ethnically diverse, and not wholly fit competitors, mostly high school and college students, mill around the bleachers, the Porta-Potties, the team tent area. The line for the waffle cart stretches nearly to the East River. One infield retailer does a brisk business selling championship lapel pins, while another is on its way to liquidating the Quidditch players’ “broom of choice,” according to the brochure, a $55 handmade model dubbed the Shadow Chaser. Everywhere there are fans – dads wearing shirts that read PROUD PARENT OF A MCGILL QUIDDITCH PLAYER, alongside teens in capes and the crimson-and-gold scarves of Hogwarts. Only five years old, this grand tournathaddment of nonfantasy Quidditch will draw some 10,000 paying spectators. A Fox newscaster once called it “a cross between the Super Bowl and a medieval fair.”

(Photo by Natalie Mattison)

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The making of the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows animation

Tuesday, 13 December, 2011

An interview with the producers of the animated sequence that tells the story of the Deathly Hallows in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, a highlight, to my mind anyway, of the seventh film in the Harry Potter saga.

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Could an expanded universe help rebuild Harry Potter’s world?

Monday, 22 August, 2011

Now that Harry Potter and friends have dispatched with dark lord Voldemort what happens next? Hogwarts needs to be rebuilt, and corruption within the Ministry of Magic weeded out, among many other things. But where to begin a reconciliation and reform process that could take decades to see through?

Surviving Death Eaters will have to be brought to justice or reintegrated into magical society. Long-standing rifts among magical communities that the war widened must be healed. Most of all, we must ensure that the values that triumphed in the final battle – tolerance, pluralism, and respect for the dignity of all magical and non-magical creatures alike – are reflected in the institutions and arrangements that emerge from the conflict. What ultimately matters is not just whether something evil was defeated, but whether something good is built in its place.

Could such a situation provide material for an Expanded Universe series of stories, as we’ve seen with the likes of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”?

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Is Hermione Granger a better sorcerer than Harry Potter?

Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

Sady Doyle re-imagines the Harry Potter saga with Hermione Granger as the central character rather than Harry.

In Hermione, Joanne Rowling undermines all of the cliches that we have come to expect in our mythic heroes. It’s easy to imagine Hermione’s origin story as some warmed-over Star Wars claptrap, with tragically missing parents and unsatisfying parental substitutes and a realization that she belongs to a hidden order, with wondrous (and unsettlingly genetic) gifts. But, no: Hermione’s normal parents are her normal parents. She just so happens to be gifted. Being special, Rowling tells us, isn’t about where you come from; it’s about what you can do, if you put your mind to it. And what Hermione can do, when she puts her mind to it, is magic.

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Harry Potter rewound… for those who came in late

Monday, 18 July, 2011

A handy primer for those going along to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, who may have lost track of the ins and outs of the saga.

Or for a little more commentary (and humour), 7 Harry Potter Movies In 7 Minutes will also quickly bring you up to speed with events of previous films before you view the finale.

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The story of Harry Potter in one easy to read comic strip

Thursday, 14 July, 2011

An illustrated, comic book style, summary of the Harry Potter saga, by Lucy Knisley (warning: contains spoilers… for those who haven’t read the books, and are yet to see the final film in the series, that is).

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Harry Potter will always be with us… thanks to Pottermore

Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

J.K. Rowling, creator of the popular series of books about the boy wizard and his friends, last week unveiled Pottermore, an online domain where she will continue to flesh out the Potter characters… though, sadly for hard core fans, won’t be adding any new books to the saga.

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Could it be only a wizard could ever educate Harry Potter and co?

Tuesday, 16 November, 2010

While you’ll probably graduate as an ace practitioner of magic from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – the alma mater of Harry Potter and his cohorts – it is possible you may not have enjoyed the most rounded of educations.

And even at Hogwarts, while they learn about spells and potions, they completely neglect the fundamentals. They are made to write essays on the history of magic, but are never taught to write. They take Arithmancy, but never learn mathematics.

I’m no expert on matters in the Harry Potter universe, but I’ve always seen Hogwarts as an institution that is along the lines of say the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts here in Sydney, a high school, that while specialising in the study of the arts, also tutors students in the usual school curriculum subjects.

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