Thursday, September 13, 2007

Harry Potter and the King's Cross

Inspired by the release of the final installment of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, the Center held a panel discussion on September 12, 2007, entitled “Harry Potter and the King’s Cross.” The panel consisted of John O’Callaghan, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Rebecca DeYoung, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, and Emerson Spartz, a Notre Dame undergraduate and the founder of, the most popular Harry Potter fan site.

Professor DeYoung opened the discussion with a brief talk entitled “Love Bears All Things: Harry Potter, Thomas Aquinas, and the Virtue of Courage.” In this talk, Professor DeYoung compared three different models of courage: the American Action Hero, Lord Voldemort, and Harry Potter. In the end, Professor DeYoung determined that Harry Potter was the figure which most embodied Aquinas’ view of courage because his courage comes from his love for others rather than his desire for self-preservation.

Professor John O’Callaghan followed this talk with a presentation entitled “Harry Potter and the Cross of Christ,” in which he argued that, despite protestations to the contrary, Harry Potter is a distinctly Christian work. He primarily focused on the use of medieval symbols in the Harry Potter series, and showed the way in which these symbols give the Harry Potter stories a deeply Christian meaning.

Next, Emerson Spartz related a series of anecdotes abouthis experiences with Harry Potter fans and his interview with J.K. Rowling, the books’ author.

The presentations were followed by a lively question and answer segment, and a streaming video of the evening’s panel discussion is available on the Center’s website.