Students examine gender, race at Harry Potter conference

A group of university students in Saskatchewan are heading to Chicago to participate in a pop-culture conference focused on Harry Potter.

University of Regina students to join more than 100 academics to talk about cultural theory in the series

A group of English students from the University of Regina are off to Chicago this weekend to participate in a pop-culture conference on Harry Potter. (Associated Press)

Like many millennials, Allie Fenson remembers picking up the first book in the Harry Potter series after seeing the movies.

By the time much-beloved series came to an end with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she was hooked.

"I went to the midnight release and stayed up all night reading it," Fenson told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

Now, as an adult and English student at University of Regina, she looks at the much-beloved series a bit more critically.

Fenson and a group of friends are road tripping to Chicago to take part in an annual pop-culture conference this weekend in which the focus of the event is — you guessed it — Harry Potter.

More than 100 students, professors and other academics will be at the gathering at DePaul University to make presentations on a range of topics related to the series. 

Fenson's work focuses on concepts of inclusion and exclusion in the books and examines how that applies to certain characters.

For example, she uses critical race theory to look at how both the house elves and goblins are largely still excluded from the main action of the story when the series comes to an end.

Others in her group are taking a look at the series' characters through examining issues around gender and ableism.

Fenson said she doesn't feel that studying the books takes away from the story's magic she was initially drawn to as a child.

"For me, studying things in an academic way deepens my enjoyment of it, to find more meanings and talk about it more fully."

"Having that enjoyment already deepens my love of the academic reading of it."

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition