New Book Captures Passion of the Harry Potter Generation
THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS by J.K. Rowling defined a generation of young readers. Now those readers are defining academic discourse on the Potter phenomenon.
A Wizard of Their Age: Critical Essays From the Harry Potter Generation (SUNY Press) began three years ago when students in “Six Degrees of Harry Potter,” St. Kate’s most popular literature course, kept finding errors in the available scholarship. On a whim, Professor Cecilia Konchar Farr and six of her students — Rachel Armstrong ’12, Kate Glassman ’10, Evan Gaydos ’12, Jenny McDougal ’08, Tréza Rosado ’11 and Sarah Wente ’13 — decided to test a “we can do better than this” hypothesis.
They issued a nationwide call for contributions. A Wizard of Their Age is a collection of scholarly and personal essays that analyze the Harry Potter books from a range of disciplines, including genetics, mathematics, theology and psychology. There is even a nursing care plan for Tom Riddle.
As they compiled the book, the St. Kate’s students also learned how to work with authors on rounds of revisions. The book concludes with a lively conversation among the editors, with insights on how the Harry Potter novels have affected them.
“The novels provide a space for us, individually, to work through death and loss, but they also open a dialogue, a shared space — with our parents and with other people,” writes Glassman, who read her first Harry Potter book at 11. “I know there are people I never would have met if I hadn’t wandered into the hallway yelling, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe Cedric Diggory…’
And someone would peek out and say, ‘Oh, Harry Potter? What page are you on?’ Instant connection.”
A Wizard of Their Age sells for $29.95 (paperback; ebook) and $90 (hardcover).