Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wasted Wednesday: Mugglenet Academia Reflection Post

This past Sunday, I had an amazing opportunity to have a Skype call with Keith Hawk, John Granger, and Professor Kate Behr to discuss narrative transformation in the Harry Potter books.  Keith Hawk is a staff member of, one of the most famous Harry Potter fan sites in the world.  He and John Granger host a podcast called Mugglenet Academia and always have two guest speakers on the show - a professor and a student.  From day one I have always loved the podcast because I have always felt that the Harry Potter books needed to be studied academically and taken as serious literature.  I've read the books five times now and feel pretty confident in my knowledge and understanding of the book series.  When the podcast first began, I decided to submit my name to be a student guest on the show.  I wasn't quite sure if I was up to doing it or not since I have such bad stage presence but I love Harry Potter so much and thought that it would be a great opportunity if I did get a chance to be a student guest.
The opportunity to be on the show came very unexpectedly when I was on vacation on Ocean City, Maryland with my family.  I saw an email in my inbox about "Mugglenet Academia Lesson 22" and assumed that since I was a website subscriber, I was getting an update on the upcoming podcast.  Because of this, I didn't actually read the email right away but read it a few hours later.  In the email, Keith Hawk was inviting me to be a student guest on the upcoming podcast because my interests seemed to fit with the topic at hand - narrative transformation in the Harry Potter series with a focus on the books shift from pagan to Christian beliefs and a focus on Ring Composition.  I was so nervous and about to say no but then talked myself out of it.  I knew this was an amazing opportunity for me and I knew that I had no reason to be afraid.  As I said before, I have read the books 5 times.  I feel like I know them like the back of my hand.
The day finally came to record and I prepared and prepared, and had been preparing for the past week, but still came up nervous.  By the end of the podcast, I knew that I wasn't at my best.  This wasn't a shock to me.  Many a time I have been called upon to make a presentation or be put on the spot and I always seem to mess these situations up.  I struggle with speaking my opinions.  Maybe that is why I have chosen to pursue a career in writing.  Despite the disappointment I feel in myself, I am trying to have no regrets and I know that I did my best.  Keith made me aware that student guests don't get much talking room so when opportunities rise, make sure to say what you want.  Unfortunately, me being me, whenever such opportunities did arise I was still trying to get my thoughts in check about what we were discussing and by the time they were fully formed, we were on another subject.  That is just how I am.  I also seemed to trip over my words a lot and forget key names and scenes from the books that I should know.  Although I am being a bit hard on myself for not speaking up more, I am trying to think positive and instead of focusing on what I didn't say I'm trying to focus on what I did say and what I did say mattered.  Everything we say matters.  Keith, John, and Professor Kate Behr were all awesome people and I am so grateful to have been on Skype call with them to talk about the series and be a small part of the discussion though.  It was really humbling to be included in the podcast because each one of them respected what I had to say and I also learned that while I think I know lots, I still have A LOT to learn - not just about Harry Potter and academics. 
The podcast topic mainly was focused on Professor Behr's chapter from Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter titled Philsopher's Stone to Resurrection Stone: Narrative transformations and intersecting cultures across the Harry Potter series.  John Granger sent us this piece before recording the show and I loved reading it!  It was so fascinating and Professor Behr seemed to be forming words out of thoughts I had never known how to express about the Harry Potter books!
In this reflection post I wanted to quickly post a few more thoughts on the topic discussed in the podcast that I didn't say in the podcast.  First, Professor Behr's point about the Sorcerer's Stone being a pagan representation of death and the Resurrection Stone being a Christian representation of death is spot on.  I never ever thought of the stones in those terms.  I believe this is a viewpoint of Harry and shows that these books definitely carry a theme of the coming of age narrative.  However, the book series as a whole seems to hold onto a Christian message throughout - specifically since Dumbledore constantly reminds us that love conquers all.  I also loved Professor Behr's point that Harry was the author of his own story the moment he told the sorting hat he wanted to be in Gryffindor.  When I first read her article, I actually wrote my own thoughts on that point and said that Harry became the author of his story when he found out about the prophecy between him and Voldemort.  After hearing Professor Behr's opinion, I can't agree with her more!  What a great observation! 
Growing up with Harry Potter has been a blast to say the least.  What I failed to say on the podcast is that Harry Potter has exposed me to more literature and complex themes than I could have ever imagined.  I seriously think that if I hadn't read the Harry Potter books I would be a Nicholas Sparks fan girl and a Gossip Girl collector.  Harry Potter is what got me into buying nonfiction for the first time - specifically Greg Garrett's One Fine Potion.  What I learned in English class I have applied to the books and because of this, I have fun applying this knowledge to all other books I come to read.  I also have learned a great deal about my faith from Harry Potter.  I grew up constantly seeing Christians speak out about the books - book burnings, a documentary titled Jesus Camp where they claim Harry Potter is an evil warlock - and I wish that they would actually read the books before condemning them because they have taught me so much. 
Overall, this was a great experience.  Although I didn't perform as best as I had hoped, I know this is only practice because I still want to work on podcasts and speak my opinion on literature and writing!  To listen to the podcast, check out the links below!  Thanks!
Direct Link to Podcast:
iTunes direct feed:


  1. Danielle, I thought you did really well and, having read what you wrote above, I wish you had had the chance (and it wasn't you, you really didn't get the chance) to express your thoughts more fully, so that we could have had a wider discussion. I am going to suggest to John Granger that it would be nice to have a Mugglenet session where all the guests are students. If he does that, I hope you'll be one of them--I shall certainly listen in!

  2. Thank you both. I really did have a fantastic time and I look forward to talking to you both in the future. I can never get bored of discussing Harry Potter :)