An English course exploring the world of Harry Potter will be offered in spring 2017.
J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series will be taught as part of a Selected Topics in Literature course “as literature, as philosophy (and) as magic,” according to a brief course description.
Noel Kaylor, professor of English and instructor of German, will be teaching the class.
“At the moment, there is a lot of interest in Harry Potter everywhere, and also on our campus,” Kaylor said.
Kaylor said he aims to teach his students fresh literature and works they will find interesting. He said he finds it necessary to not only focus on classic works, but to raise awareness for more recent literary scholars.
“I’m not interested in having our students read the same canon all the time,” Kaylor said. “I would like for them to see literariness where it exists.”
Ben Robertson, professor of English and adviser of Troy University’s quidditch team, said he “would think that lots of people would be interested in this course.”
Quidditch is a contact sport that originated from the “Harry Potter” series.
According to its mission statement, the quidditch team’s purpose is “to maintain the spirit of Harry Potter, a character and book series which many students of this generation have grown up to cherish; to promote an active imagination (and) to promote a healthier lifestyle, especially amongst students who may or may not have athletic incentive.”
Robertson is hosting a study-abroad trip to London, May 14-23, 2017. During the trip, students will have the opportunity to visit the Harry Potter Studios.
Kellen Crookham, a senior graphic design major from Phenix City and captain of the quidditch team, confirmed interest among students.
“I think it’s cool that we have a class that isn’t focusing on traditional academic topics,” Crookham said. “But rather it’s beginning to delve into more recent literature, and literature that has helped shape a generation of young people.”
Kirk Curnutt, professor and chair of English, was involved in the process of approving the class.
Curnett said he gives his full support.
“Rowling’s books should be recognized as canonical works,” Curnett said.
He said he sees this class as a great opportunity for the university to incorporate popular literature.
The “Harry Potter” series is more than just a pop culture fad, according to Kaylor.
Kaylor provided a preview of what the daily experience in the classroom would be like.
Kaylor said he plans to divide the class into seven groups: each group responsible for an in-depth study of one of the seven books in the series.
Kaylor said he doesn’t think it will be fair to have the whole class read thousands of pages.
“Besides,” Kaylor said, “most of the people who are Harry Potter fans have read the books.”
Students will gain knowledge of all the books during group discussions and Kaylor’s lectures.
Kaylor will lecture on the literary significance and historical value of the book series. He will also cover the history of magic, philosophy, Latin and Greek, as well as Rowling’s biography.
Kaylor said he has followed the book series from the beginning, reading each volume upon release.
The course will be centered on the literary work, but not the movies.
“I have only seen bits and pieces of the movies because I have in mind’s eye what I see from Rowling’s work,” Kaylor said. “And I want to keep that, which I think is closer than somebody else’s casting.”
Kaylor said he tries to use different books each semester in his literature courses. Since this course is centered on a particular book series, he will use this spring semester as a trial run.
If he decides to continue this course, he will “try to do things a little differently.”
Kaylor said he finds it encouraging that there is student interest from the sociology, philosophy and English departments.
Troy University Secular Student Alliance (TSSA), in partnership with the quidditch team and the Philosophy Society, is having a showing of all eight “Harry Potter” movies in the name of “ending religious censorship,” according to the flier.
“The movie showings with TSSA and the philosophy club were proposed to us by members of TSSA because of our connection with Harry Potter,” Crookham said. “The quidditch team saw this as an opportunity to collaborate with students who have a mutual passion for Harry Potter.”
The screenings will be held every Thursday, beginning with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in Bibb Graves Room 129. The “Harry Potter Movie Event” will last until Thursday, Dec. 1.
“The enthusiasm for Harry Potter across Troy’s campus makes me enthusiastic to work with the students who will be attracted to this course,” Kaylor said.
The class is not just an elective, but a junior- and senior-level course that will count towards English students’ major credits.
Students must have six credits in 2000-level courses before taking this 3-credit course. The course is listed as English 4400 in the course catalog and will meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. There are 18 seats available.
Registration opens Monday, Oct. 24, for eligible students.
In fall 2017, Kaylor will be teaching a course on the poetry of Bob Dylan, who was recently awarded a Nobel Prize for literature.