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The Witching Hour Symposium

Author Catherine Tosenberger
Air Date 5/10/2005

The Witching Hour Symposium Transcript

If you’re a Harry Potter fan who is totally (and I mean totally!) immersed in everything about the popular series, you may want to mark your calendar for October 6th through 10th of 2005. That’s when “The Witching Hour: A Harry Potter Symposium” is going to be held in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem, of course, is famous for its witch trials, and it’s the perfect setting for an examination of the dark, difficult choices that Harry has faced, and that may be awaiting him in future books.

In keeping with the season, there will panels discussing JK Rowling’s treatment of death and the afterlife, and other Halloween-ish topics. However, such dark debates are by no means the only topics on the table at this interdisciplinary conference. In fact, it promises to be a celebration of all things Potter, and a wide variety of programming on every aspect of the wizarding world is scheduled, including presentations on the historical folk magic traditions that inform the series, analyses of Harry’s mythological and literary influences, and lively debate panels concerning such morally ambiguous characters as Professor Snape and Percy Weasley.

A chief aim of “The Witching Hour” is to foster dialogue between academics and fans of the series. Harry Potter online fan culture — which includes original stories and art inspired by Rowling’s world — is rich and varied. It is already enormous and is still growing. For instance, one of the major fanfiction archive sites boasts nearly 200,000 new stories, contributed by writers from around the globe. And the fans themselves will be sharing their creative endeavors, reading from their fiction and displaying their artwork that features Harry and his friends — and enemies. Throughout the course of the conference, both fans and scholars will be able to interact and learn from each other’s perspectives, to gain a deeper understanding of the series. In addition to scholars and fans, a stellar lineup of authors will be attending: Nancy Farmer, Tamora Pierce, Holly Black, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, will lend their expertise to discussions of young adult fantasy literature, and Harry Potter’s position and influence within the field. Local storyteller Tony Toledo will also be performing If you are interested in participating, the deadline for submissions is May 15, 2005. Proposals are being accepted from all disciplines and approaches, both scholarly and creative, that concern Harry Potter and his world; this is a unique opportunity to share research, speak with a celebrated writer, or test out your own creativity. For more information, please see

Posted in Education, Literature