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The Appeal of Harry Potter

Harry Potter continues to be an endearing franchise. What thematic elements make it so loved years after the books and films have been completed?

  • I think it has to do a lot with the fact that the books were famous before it became a movie and the kids who grew up reading those books are now adults and thus, they encouraged their younger siblings to take interest in the movies and read the book. Not to mention that some of us read the books as adults, (like me) and encouraged our children to take an interest in the franchise (both in books and movies). (at least that is what I did). – Nilab Ferozan 8 months ago
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  • I have see how popular the topic is on the Artifice itself. – Munjeera 8 months ago
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  • This would be a super read! I think it's important to consider the books and the films as separate entities , but also compare their success at some point in the article – LilyaRider 8 months ago
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  • Harry Potter has this certain nostalgic appeal that leads to people feeling a connection with the series, and the desire to pass it on to younger traditions. Aside from fantasy, the series deals with issues of friendship, loss, families, hope, struggles, etc., which allows for a multitude of viewership. Due to these numerous facets, this series has the ability to reach readers/viewers in at least one area of human emotion. – danielle577 7 months ago
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  • It's the characters. There are so many characters or parts of characters that each of us can identify with or want to be. I started to read these books as a teenager, and yet older than the targeted audience. I wanted to get my letter telling me I was a wizard (or witch) and would be swept away into this magical world that exists alongside of our muggle world. Even as an adult it is wonderful to believe that somewhere there is magic or this alternate world that could exist. The core story of love and friendship endures past the books and films. And even as I re-read the series I laugh and cry at the same moments that I read in the first reading. And am sad when it's all over that I need to re-read and re-watch. It's one that shall continue to endure. – therachelralph 7 months ago
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  • I agree that it's the characters because the characters are thought out to such an extent and written in such detail that they can easily be imagined as real people instead of just imaginary people from a book. They also cover a wide range of types of people and do not stick to hard stereotypes. The good characters have flaws. The bad characters have good somewhere inside them or backstories explaining why they are how they are. The booksmart Hermione doesn't always have the answer and brought new depth to the 'nerd' and 'bookworm' characters. All the characters have an amazing depth to them that is actually surprising considering just how many characters there are. Even small characters that you hardly see or ones that didn't even make it into the movies have complete characters. None are hollow characters just there for the furthering of the plot, instead being fully-formed people. I would say that the characters are the main reason the series remains relevant. The magic doesn't hurt though. Essentially, the series creates a world perfect for the imagination of all ages to explore and young fans just get to know the world and the characters in new and deeper ways as they get older. It doesn't just fade away and get forgotten because there's always more to experience and enjoy. – AnisaCowan 7 months ago
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  • It's the appeal of the alternative reality: this rich and amazing world that is just around the corner, if only we know how to look for it. I'd also say it was how well Rowling constructed her universe and how rich and detailed it is. Just the care she put into naming her characters, it reminds me of Tolkien.I think another part of the appeal is that we can all imagine ourselves in that world. If not as students, then as teachers or at least as a denizen. In that respect, it reminds me of Star Trek. – LisaDee 7 months ago
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  • Someone please formulate what Rowling did. I need the money. – Tigey 5 months ago
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  • Many people have mentioned the characters and I agree that is a huge part of it. JKR has called them "character-driven" books and after reading that quote I was immediately like, oh, yeah. It got me thinking. Technically all books are driven by the actions of characters, but some plots don't require you to know the characters on a personal level to be entertaining. JKR takes character to a whole new level; as people have said, it's like you know them (not just the main characters--almost all of them) and could predict what they would do in any situation. And her dialogue is fun, witty, and personal to each of her characters. It makes her writing more fun and truly exceptional, and the story so much more dimensional than the plot of defeating Voldemort. That goes along with the idea of world creation. I hate comparing HP to things like Twilight and The Hunger Games because it blows them out of the water from a writing, literary, and overall goodness standpoint. But a comparison serves to make my point--Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins created worlds within or in the future of our world. They added new rules and created some creatures, devices, and spaces that are purely the products of imagination. But J.K. Rowling created a Wizarding world that, while occasionally intersecting with the muggle world, is a space all it's own. She doesn't even rely on the existence of technology. She invented hundreds of spells, animals, laws, backstories, places, histories. It's mind-blowing. – katybherman 2 months ago
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Taken by Sarah Swanigan (PM) 1 week ago.
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The Success of Herbert's Dune

Why was Dune so successful despite being largely inaccessible to a mainstream audience? How did Herbert manage to write the best-selling sci-fi novel of all time (surpassing classics such as the works of Asimov and Wells)? While rumors of its reboot arise, why might a major studio (Legendary Entertainment) take on such a sprawling project?

Overall, what is the appeal of Dune, and why has it been so enduring?

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    The Handmaid's Tale: The Intersection of Fiction and Reality

    Are we entering an era of lost rights for women? Are our futures as bleak as Margaret Atwood predicted in 1986? Analyze Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in its portrayal of women and its implications in modern day politics. Discuss the importance of the book as speculative fiction and the aspects of Gilead possible in modern society.

    • This is a very relevant topic and I look forward to it being explored. We may not have reached Gilead just yet, but some people would certainly will us that direction. Is there a difference today because we have people fighting it? What about the people at the time of the novel's writing that were fighting this same thing? (Has the fight changed at all?) – Mariel Tishma 2 months ago
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    Evolution of the Elf in Fantasy Literature

    The tall, noble and beautiful elf has become almost a cliche in fantasy at this point, but this was not always so. As Tolkien traces in his landmark essay, "On Fairy Stories," from Spenser’s "The Faerie Queene" and Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" up to his time, elves had been diminutive creatures of mischief, cutesy and not worth taking seriously. Beginning with Tolkien, and his reliance on Northern European mythology to craft his legendarium, analyze this shift in the treatment of the Elf, and what it meant for fantasy as a genre. Also, compare Tolkien’s Elf with a more modern one, and look at recent deviations of the now archetypal elf.

    • Great topic! A portion of this article should definitely be devoted to the portrayal of Christmas elves, as a complete 180 deviation from the kind seen in Tolkein. How did the archetype of a tall, noble, immortal warrior turn into the short, subservient toy-makers (or tree-dwelling cookie-makers, or nocturnal shoe-makers, etc) that's become so ubiquitous in our contemporary lore? – ProtoCanon 2 months ago
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    • The writer could also stand to look into pixies/imps/brownies and other fae folk for this topic. More than a few of them have gotten mixed together. – Mariel Tishma 2 months ago
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    American Psycho: Political Rhetoric

    I started reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis during the final debate, and finished the novel shortly after the election. At the start of the novel, there is a particular quote that, I think, mimes the political rhetoric used during election season (well used frequently, but only recognized by a wider audience during election season). While watching a Milo Yiannopoulos talk (shameful–I know), a member of the audience referenced the same quote; which he refers to as the speech given during "the restaurant scene" in the film. The audience member argued that the monologue, performed by anti-hero, Patrick Bateman, mimics some of the language Clinton used during the campaign. I found it very interesting, especially since Bateman is obviously obsessed with Trump throughout the entire novel. While the novel was published in 1991, and the Clinton’s weren’t yet a household name, I found it very funny that both the audience member and I made that association (despite the fact that I found Bateman’s speech to be a satirical monologue that could be applied to Clinton, Trump, and media’s impression on the common person’s understanding of politics). I want to share this quote, let me know what you think:

    "We have to stop people from abusing the welfare system. We have to provide food and shelter for the homeless and oppose racial discrimination and promote civil rights while also promoting equal rights for women but change the abortion laws to protect the right to life yet still somehow maintain women’s freedom of choice. We also have to control the influx of illegal immigrants. We have to encourage a return to traditional moral values and curb graphic sex and violence on TV, in movies, in popular music, everywhere. Most importantly we have to promote general social concern and less materialism in young people."

    Ellis, Bret Easton, author. American Psycho : a Novel. New York :Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 1991. p.15. Print.

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      Why do we celebrate diversity in books, but are left with whitewashed movie versions?

      It’s always a monumental feat when a novel, especially in YA, gets recognized for having a diverse cast of characters, and even more impressive, if it has a diverse lead, and a diverse author writing it. So, what’s the middle man, per se, in getting us from being readers going through page-turners about characters of all types, only to end up with their more cliché, whitewashed, able-bodied counterparts?

      • The way you're using the word "diverse" is problematic. Human beings are not diverse. Populations are.To answer your suggestion, it's important for whoever wants to write this article to realize that films and novels function differently as artistic media. We can read both as narratives, but the audiovisual nature of film is really important towards the ways that directors envision a work. The reasons why movies continue to feature whitewashed casts is because most readers have a tendency to ignore these "diverse" descriptions when they read. The basic template for a human being in the American imagination is a white person, and therefore descriptions which deviate from this are easily ignored or taken with a grain of salt. It tends to be people of color who are disgruntled with whitewashing because it contributes to their historical erasure and because they are the most sensitive to these issues. – X 3 months ago
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      • The largest problem with this topic, as mentioned, is that both forms of media have different purposes. Novels have the simple job of entertaining an engaged reader, while film has the complex job of making money. If this topic is explored, the researcher would need to include this as one of the major reasons for the "whitewashing." Since producers and directors mostly care about making money instead of diversifying and representing the correct culture and racial groups, the topic would be unfortunately straightforward, I would think. – Steven Gonzales 2 months ago
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      • Like previous commenters have said, money is a big reason, but on the other hand it's audience's reactions to diverse content.In a lot of fandoms if you write a fanfic with a poc character, many fans will say that they can't "imagine" that character being a minority. For instance even though there are plenty of stories featuring your typical white, straight character, if you create one story featuring a minority character, some people will react by saying that you're taking stories away from white characters. – seouljustice 2 months ago
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      • To expand on what seouljustice said, I think that diversity is easy to ignore in a good book. Looks are not as important as values and motivations in books, but are much more important in more visual media, including films. Engaging with characters and projecting yourself onto them means finding similarities between yourself and them, while being able to ignore differences. Target audiences for most popular movies have large percentages of white viewers who would then have trouble empathizing with characters of different backgrounds, including (but not limited to) race and sexuality. – C8lin 2 months ago
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      "The Perks of Becoming a Wallflower" and the Theme of Identity

      Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel presents the theme of identity with a protagonist, Charlie, who struggles to find himself during freshmen year of high school. This article would demonstrate the protagonist’s lack of identity throughout the entire book and the revelation which made him learn about the dangers of lacking identity.

      • I'm not quite sure what you mean. Can you be more specific about what you mean about "the dangers of lacking identity?" To my understanding, and I realize my reading of the novel is different from others' readings, Charlie has an identity, but that identity is changing throughout the novel. Now whether we view that identity as being distinct, that is up to an interpretation, but I would like to see this article nonetheless. – Matt Sautman 3 months ago
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      Absurdism 101: Albert Camus' Philosophy

      Albert Camus is one of the fathers of Absurdist philosophy and one of the greatest writers of all time; his philosophical works The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel have defined his ideas, while his novels such as The Stranger and The Plague have actualized them. Examine and breakdown the fundamentals of absurdism.

      • I get the desire to discuss Camus (as he's one of my favourite writers as well), but this retrospective of his life and works doesn't seem overly suitable to the here and now. I could maybe understand it if he had died recently - you may have noticed that one of our fellow contributors did so when Elie Wiesel passed, but the article has been pending for so long that it'll be hardly still relevant by the time its published, and Wiesel died 56 years AFTER Camus - but I cannot imagine anything in this article that could not be found in his many biographies or critical studies of his work. I'm not rejecting this, but I won't approve it either. – ProtoCanon 6 months ago
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      • Could Campus work be linked to a more current theme in media? I will leave it up to you Camus experts to make a more relevant link. – Munjeera 6 months ago
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      • What might be interesting is to compare Sartre with Camus.Many had mistakenly grouped Camus as an existentialist, most consistently, with the ideological thogouht processes of Sartre. Ironically, they were very good friends, but due to their ideological differences--Sartre is an existentialist--they ended up having an epic feud that ended their friendship. In a bittersweet form of a forgiveness, Sartre wrote a tribute to Camus after his death. – danielle577 5 months ago
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      • The challenge here, with such a broad topic, is to write it succinctly, but I agree with TKing that it's relevant today. – Tigey 5 months ago
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      • The issue isn't that it's not "relevant" -- I only brought up relevance because it was a facet of why this topic struck me as unsuitable for the Artifice -- but rather that scores of books have been written on precisely this topic. Even to narrow the subject matter to something more succinct would just be to focus on one chapter of those many books. For example's sake, Danielle's suggestion to compare Sartre and Camus, in addition to being something that is thoroughly discussed in every biography of either of them, is already the subject of a fantastic book (Camus & Satre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It, by Ronald Aronson) from 2004, which has subsequently been followed by a whole slew of other articles (http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/camus-and-sartre-friendship-troubled-by-ideological-feud-a-931969.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-j-stone/albert-vs-jeanpaul-why-ca_b_7699530.html, etc) and even another book (The Boxer and the Goal Keeper: Sartre Versus Camus, by Andy Martin).My response to anyone who chooses to write this article is this: "Why should I read this article when I can just read the book (which, let's be honest, is undoubtedly better written and more thoroughly research)? What can you add that hasn't been stated already?" I really don't see the point in regurgitating other peoples' research, simply because it has yet to be done on this specific online platform. We should be striving for originality, critical thought, and sparking debate via new contributions (to topics old and new alike). – ProtoCanon 5 months ago
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      • True, protocannon, it's been done, but has it been exhausted? I trust your judgment on that, but won't squelch someone's attempt to find a "new wrinkle." – Tigey 5 months ago
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      • I'd argue that it's been exhausted beyond the point to which it merit's Artifice-level discussion. Maybe a "new wrinkle" can be found, to the extent that discovering previously unstudied letters or dairies of Camus would warrant writing a new or revised biography, but if such a discovery were made, it would belong in a genuine academic journal. And there are no lack of those to which it would appropriately correspond, most centrally in The Journal of Camus Studies (http://www.camus-society.com/camus-society-journal.html), or more broadly in relevant philosophically-leaning periodicals like PhaenEx (http://phaenex.uwindsor.ca/ojs/leddy/index.php/phaenex), The Reed (http://pages.stolaf.edu/thereed/), or Existential Analysis (http://existentialanalysis.org.uk/journal/) to French literary and cultural journals like French Cultural Studies (http://frc.sagepub.com/) or the Journal of French Language Studies (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=JFL). As much as we love the Artifice, it's not really the best platform for great strides in research; it's better suited for discussing why the time loop ended in Groundhog Day. – ProtoCanon 5 months ago
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      • Makes sense. Thanks for your insight, ProtoCanon.. – Tigey 5 months ago
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