Appelbaum Referenced for Expertise in Harry Potter Studies

By schwartzsa | June 9, 2011

Harry Potter’s World: Magic, Technoculture, and Becoming Human (RoutledgeFalmer) by Dr. Peter Appelbaum, Professor of Education, Coordinator of Graduate Mathematics Education and Curriculum Studies Program and Director-at-Large of Undergraduate Curriculum, was recently referenced in an essay which originally appeared in the Triple Helix Online. Harry Potter: Why Do Muggles Hate Magic? addresses the topics of consumerism and technology in the popular fantasy book series.

Appelbaum recommends that when analyzing this sort of literature we ask not “What is it about J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books that has made them so popular?” but rather “What is it about our culture that embraces the Harry Potter books and has turned Harry Potter into such a phenomenon?” [5] As readers we embrace literature that conforms to our particular biases. That is, books become popular only if the readers identify aspects of their literary worlds that resemble our own. In the Harry Potter series, we recognize the wizards’ obsession with technology, along with its larger consumerist culture, as realistic. Furthermore, the readers do not find it implausible that wizards would restrict their own powers for the sake of integrity, nor do they doubt that Muggles would deplore a culture that is not their own and is simply too peculiar to them. These observations compel us to critique our own consumerist culture, and also to consider whether the mostly domineering attitude with which we handle technology should rather be marked with restraint.