“The course that must not be named” is coming to Springfield College, and it might just be the most magical one yet. Incorporating historical events and American pop culture is exactly what Thomas Carty will be doing in HIST 482: History Seminar: Harry Potter and American Popular Culture. This course will explore the connections between fictional and historical events.
“I created this course to be a capstone experience for American Studies and History Majors. American Studies majors look at American history and contemporary America through multiple disciplines. This course will allow students to examine themes in American culture through the popular interest in Harry Potter novels,” Professor Carty explained. “What drew me to the idea was my daughter, who began reading the books a few years ago. I started to recognize parallels between Voldemort, the arch villain, and Adolf Hitler in World War II.”
The similarity between the enemy in the Harry Potter series and Adolf Hitler was that no one was able to stand up to them and those will be the types of things that students will study in this course. Another theme that will be discussed is the significance of everyone’s favorite house-elf, Dobby.
“I will ask students to consider how J.K. Rowling used the two house-elves Dobby and Kreacher to compare and contrast the impact of slavery on different individuals,” Professor Carty said as he pondered making Harry Potter a permanent theme in his history offerings. “I’m beginning this experiment as a seminar class open to a few students. It is a 400 level course that will require a lot of writing and research. Hopefully, I will be able to open up this class to all students in future semesters.”
The class will be looking in-depth at the bigger, more complex, messages contained within the simplicity of fictional fascination that has swept our culture since J.K. Rowling released the first novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in 1997. The literary series consists of seven novels; “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
When talking to first-year student Katie Carson about the new course, she thought it would definitely be something she hopes to take.
“I don’t usually like history, I’m a math major. I know that this would be a history course I would definitely take considering it’s something I can relate to first hand. It seems really interesting and I would rather take this than the typical history course,” Carson said.
Since this is an upper-level course, Professor Carty recommends it to juniors and seniors with an interest in Harry Potter and history, but in the next year it may become a permanent course here at SC.