Harry Potter Scholar Gives Lecture on Literary Alchemy

By Mary Van Jura

John Granger, the “dean of Harry Potter scholars,” will deliver a lecture about literary alchemy on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in the DeBartolo Hall auditorium at Youngstown State University.

This lecture is in conjunction with the “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine” exhibit displayed on campus. Granger is speaking about the elements that give series like “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” so much success.

“Working to explain the artistry and meaning of the seven novels for those who love them turned me into a ‘Potter Pundit,’” Granger said.

Granger’s favorite part about giving lectures is getting to talk to thoughtful people who understand the magic of the series.

“Tuesday I hope they get the ‘what,’ the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of literary alchemy,” Granger said.

He will focus his lecture on the structure, symbolism and popularity of the series.

Angela Messenger, the director of the YSU Writing Center, and Cassie Nespor, the curator of the Melnick Medical Museum, arranged for Granger to host the event since he is such an energetic national speaker.

Messenger said that the lecture will not only be directed toward Harry Potter fans, but also fans of many works of young adult literature and classic titles by C.S Lewis and Charles Dickens.

After the lecture, Messenger says there will be an opportunity to discuss theories with Granger. Guests are invited from schools that participate in the YSU English Festival, and fliers are posted around campus welcoming anyone to come.

“We will have some refreshments with a magical twist and some activities for any younger guests who may be attending,” Messenger said.

Messenger is also the adviser of Room of Requirement, a YSU campus organization that pays tribute to Harry Potter by playing Quidditch matches, throwing Halloween parties, hosting a Yule Ball as an end of semester dance and becoming involved with social issues.

Amanda Dradt, the president of Room of Requirement, is a junior at YSU. She says that they are more than just a Harry Potter club and that they invite all fandoms like “Doctor Who,” “Supernatural” and “The Walking Dead.”

“We hang out at meetings and play games like old friends,” Dradt said.

From the lecture, Dradt hopes to get an inside look on what J.K. Rowling was thinking about when she was writing the books, so she can have a better understanding of why the series is such a page-turner.