New book of critical essays puts Harry Potter under the microscope

“When I first started putting it together, there was very little scholarly writing on the series,” said Giselle Liza Anatol, a professor of English at the University of Kansas and editor of Reading Harry Potter Again: New Critical Essays. “I wanted to do more of an in-depth literary analysis. People think of Harry Potter books or children’s literature as content free-fluff. I feel like they deserve to be examined and interpreted to see what ideas people are getting.”

Reading Harry Potter Again: New Critical Essays is Anatol’s second book on the topic and includes essays from writers in the U.S., Canada and the the U.K. that explore how race, religion, morality, gender and class are represented in the popular series by J.K. Rowling. The essays also explore the sociocultural impact the Potter books.

The essays int the second edition of Reading Harry Potter are both new examinations on the topic and material as well as expansions of themes from the first edition (which dealt only with the first four books of the series) . Several writers, in fact, have re-addressed their essays from the first edition, exploring how their chosen theme was expanded upon or evolved in the final three books of the Harry Potter series.

reading Harry Potter
Reading Harry Potter

Contributors to Reading Harry Potter Again are primarily English professors, with a few philosophy and religious scholars through in for added flavor.  Along with her role as editor, Anatol contributed essays on race and ethnicity to the first volume and explored metaphors for race and stereotypes in the second. She also wrote the introductions to both.

Anatol has also released Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on the Pop Culture Phenomenon, a collection of essays exploring themes in the popular series of Twilight novels by Stephanie Meyer.

“I love taking part in this type of discussion,” Anatol said. “For both projects it was a really nice back and forth and exchange of ideas.”

Tagged with: