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CAS offers Harry Potter class

TAMPA, Fla. – The University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences offers the Culture Studies and Popular Arts “Harry Potter” Mirrors, Doubles and Twins as an English class for juniors and seniors in need of Gordon rule communications or writing intensive credit.

This class is focused on the study of cultures represented in the “Harry Potter” film and fiction series. The “Harry Potter” book series is a pop-culture phenomenon that this class examines as a literary work. Ann Basso, Ph.D. from the Department of English teaches this class.

“Harry Potter is just like any other literary work to be analyzed in an English class,” Basso said.

She explained that on the first day she gives out a survey to see who has read the books and how many times they read each book. Most students have read the books at least two or three times, but there are others who have not read the books at all, she said.

Students are required to read all seven books of the Harry Potter series, a total of 4,100 pages, for the class. Courtney Combs, a senior majoring in mass communications, was one of the few students who did not read the book series before the class. She explained how her experience with this class has been different from students who had read the books before the class.

Combs said she always has wanted to read all of the books and, “this class allows me to do that while maintaining my cover as a successful member of grown-up society.”

She is about to finish the fifth book. Combs explained that because she is a bit older than most first-time “Harry Potter” readers, she has related to the stories in a different way with a few more years of experience, as well as tempting Internet spoilers.

Basso uses reader response theory, feminist criticism, psychoanalytical criticism and Marxist criticism to analyze the books in the class. The students are split up into the four houses in Harry Potter: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin based on the Pottermore website as a fun activity and a way to divide up assignments.

They talk about the character and the stories. They discuss the subtle symbolism and themes as well as the effects the books have had on pop culture. In addition, they address the writers and works that influenced author, J.K. Rowling such as Shakespeare and Chaucer.

Basso said the class is titled Mirrors, Doubles and Twins because of the mirrors in different characters, situations and moments that are doubled throughout the series. There are also analogs and literary twins to the Harry Potter series that influenced the author. The Harry Potter series is studied as more than just children’s books, but as a work of literature.

Although the class covers the books in great detail, they also briefly discuss the movie adaptations toward the end of the semester. Basso said there are perhaps two or three students per class who are new to Harry Potter.

Combs said she enjoys discussing the books in the class because perspectives from students who have read the books multiple times are enlightening.

For students who want to take this class in the future, Basso said students, “will work hard, but they will have fun.”


Filed under:Arts and Sciences English    
Author:Jasmin Lankford