On October 19-20, Chestnut Hill College hosts its seventh annual Harry Potter Academic Conference — the country’s only interdisciplinary academic symposium where faculty, students and community members present scholarly papers and works of art based on J.K. Rowling’s world-renowned book series.
The nonprofit conference, held over the course of two days at the College, seeks to create a dialogue that goes beyond the books. Presentations and panel discussions cover numerous topics, including ethics, politics and the ways Harry Potter can be interpreted through and employed by multiple academic disciplines. The conference features presenters who span across multiple fields, such as science and philosophy, and range from Ph.Ds. to high school students. The event also features a concert and a book signing.
Among the guests is plenary speaker Christopher Bell, Ph.D., director of graduate studies and associate professor of media studies in the department of communication at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Bell is the recipient of the 2017 Denver Comic Con Popular Culture Educator of the Year Award, and he is a TED speaker and a 2017 David Letterman Award-winning media scholar. He has also authored two children’s books.
Continuing into its fifth year is the conference’s special section for high school students, titled “Harry Potter Conference for the Scholarship of High School Students.” Students are invited to submit a short essay that either analyzes themes or characters from the series or discusses elements of the series, explaining how they extend into an academic discipline. Chestnut Hill College will consider students’ papers for an essay contest in which the grand prize is a $10,000 scholarship to the College.
The conference, the only one of its kind in the United States, originated from a CHC interdisciplinary honors course, which was taught by professors Patrick McCauley, Ph.D., an associate professor of religious studies and philosophy, and Karen Wendling, Ph.D., an associate professor of chemistry. This course used the Harry Potter series as an example of Bildungsroman literature to study the often competing influences of science and philosophy/religion on the development of personal truth and meaning.
“The annual conference has grown over the past six years to be one of the most fertile opportunities to meet and seriously discuss the Wizarding World of J. K. Rowling, as well as its cultural impact,” said McCauley and Wendling. “The conference draws people from around the country. The willingness of people to come and participate is the conference’s most precious asset.”
The conference — held in the rotunda and adjoining rooms at St. Joseph Hall — begins on Friday, Oct. 19 and runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 20, it begins at 9:20 a.m. and ends approximately around 1-1:30 p.m. It is open to the public, although registration donation is required.
The conference is open to the public and registration is available online.
Held in conjunction with the conference is Chestnut Hill College’s 9th annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament. The tournament will be held on Saturday, October 20th. Athletes from 10 schools and communities come together to participate in exciting rounds of fun and frenetic quidditch play.
The student-run tournament takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the college’s softball field. The event, which is open to the public, pits athletes from numerous schools and communities across the Northeast U.S. — such as Drexel University, Syracuse University and Lafayette College — against one another in games of fast-paced quidditch play. Quidditch is a combination of rugby, dodgeball and basketball.
Along with the quidditch tournament, the Brotherly Love Cup will feature merchandise, food and beautiful scenery. There is no admission fee for the event; however, food, merchandise and games are pay as you go. Parking is $10 per vehicle. Find complete details on the tournament here.
Photos: Chestnut Hill College