First aired on Eyeopener(15/7/11)
The final Harry Potter film premiered on Friday all around the world. It's bittersweet for many fans who have been waiting 10 years since the first film to see this finale. Diana Patterson is one of those many fans. She's known by many Calgarians as the "Harry Potter lady." She runs a Harry Potter meet-up group, and attends conferences on the popular literary series. She's also an English professor at Mount Royal University where one of her topics is the Harry Potter books.
Patterson isn't the first to look at Potter through an academic lens. Many academics and researchers have taken up studying the Harry Potter phenomenon. Masters theses and PhD dissertations in subjects as diverse as sociology and cultural studies have explored the world of Harry Potter, both within the books and the fandom that surrounds them.
However, Patterson took this study of Harry Potter one step further and included the series on the reading list of one of her university-level classes, a survey class that provides a comprehensive overview of English literature from 1660 to the present.
"I was tired of teaching 1984, which I find so depressing," she admitted to Eyeopener guest host David Gray. "I thought 'All right, what 20th-century novel would I like to teach? Oooh...Harry Potter. Yes, let's do that.'"
Reaction to the inclusion of Harry Potter on Patterson's curriculum was mixed. Half the students were thrilled to read the beloved series, while the other half felt that it "was a book for kids." Patterson believes that these reactions only enrich the educational potential of Potter. To her, the books are literature and art, and have had enormous cultural influence worldwide. Patterson feels they deserve to be discussed, dissected and analyzed by students and scholars for years to come.
After all, she only has to point to another English writer who began his career writing for the people, then gained worldwide fandom and is now taught in classrooms around the world.
"Do people still read Shakespeare?" she asks.
As any student of English literature knows, they certainly do.
What do you think? Should the Harry Potter series be taught in schools? Share your thoughts in the comments below.