Update: here's the programme. Looks fascinating. Lots of seminars on death, myth and morality.
Hot on the heels of the Journal of U2 Studies, Harry Potter is the latest popular phenomenon to gain academic interest. A 2 day conference at St. Andrews University starts today, with 50 lectures covereing different aspects of the Potter saga:
Topics include the role of paganism, British national identity and how death is dealt with in the book series. An anthology based on the conference is planned for publication in 2013.
The conference has been organised by Prof John Patrick Pazdziora from the University's School of English and Father Micah Snell from the University's Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts (ITIA).
The ITIA's aims are:
to advance and enrich an active conversation between Christian theology and the arts — bringing rigorous theological thinking to the arts, and bringing the resources of the arts to the enterprise of theology. As part of this, it seeks to explore the role of the imagination in the arts, as part of a wider theological interest in the imaginative aspects of our humanity.
So I'm guessing there'll be some theological lectures in amongst the 50, though the full programme isn't available online. More details from St. Andrews here.
In an intense series of almost 50 lectures over two days, experts on the series will discuss how they deal with death, the role of empathy and the influence of writers such as CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Other papers will deal with paganism, magic and the use of food and British National Identity.
I'd love to be a fly on the wall, though there's always the chance Hermione would spot me and trap me in a jar. There are strong Christian themes, amongst all the others, in the Potter series, and you couldn't really get a more overtly Easter finale than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.