Harry Potter and Christian Thought

HOUSECS 59.07

Fall 2016

Mondays, 7:00 - 9:00 pm, Few FF 101

Since the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer;s Stone in 1997, the Harry Potter series has consistently topped lists of banned and challenged books (American Library Association). The most outcry has come from Christians, who have called the books "anti-Christian,"sinful," and "luring children towardsthe occult." Christian leaders, including Dr. James Dobson of the organization Focus on the Family, and even Pope Benedict XVI, urged parents not to let their children read the books. In spite of these attacks, J.K. Rowling has onsistently reminded readers that she is a practicing Christian and that her books have profound Christian messages.

Jesus Christ and Harry Potter are arguably two of the most popular literary heroes of all time, and their stories have impacted and continue to impact people all over the world. This course will explore Christian themes in the Harry Potter books, including ideas about good, evil, sin, grace, salvation, and justice. It will explore a variety of questions, including: Is Harry Potter a Christ figure? Should Harry Potter be read as an explicit Christian allegory? What does Harry Potter say about death, resurrection, and salvation? Did J.K. Rowling intentionally include Christian messages in her novels? Does authorial intent matter? What is the impact of Christian messages in Harry Potter? Can Christian themes helps explain the wild sucess of the eries? Why have the books been called heretical? Our analysis will draw on writings by influential Christian theologians, relevant scripture passages, and, or course, the Harry Potter books and films.

Prerequisite: Familiarity with the Harry Potter series. The course is designed to be accessible to students of all faith backgrounds and academic disciplines.

 

Instructor(s): 
  • Zachary Heater, zdh2@duke.edu
  • Katie Becker, kmb70@duke.edu
Sponsor/Department: 
  • Mark Goodacre, Religious Studies
Class Limit: 
18