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Discovering Harry Potter: Does Age Matter?

This is a fairly personal topic I’d like to write myself, but will leave to more experienced Potterheads.

I was ten when the first Harry Potter book came out. I grew up in a moderate, but still observant Christian family who considered it too much of a risk to expose me and my then-six-year-old brother to a series that contained any form of witchcraft. I didn’t read the books then and later, got too busy with other books. Besides, I didn’t want to be labeled childish for carrying around HP paperbacks in, say, high school.

As an adult, I’ve finally gotten around to opening my Hogwarts letter and starting the series, and it’s been a lot of fun. However, I can’t escape this fact: I’m a thirty-something woman. I have a different HP experience than the average 11-year-old.

And so I’m curious to see an analysis of this phenomenon. Does age matter when you’re discovering HP for the first or two hundredth time? How do children and adults view the series differently? Are there less or more "mature" ways to interact with it? Or, as I suspect, has Harry Potter bridged age gaps in a way other book series can only dream about doing? If yes, how did J.K. and Harry do it?

  • Oh, this is a really good point. I grew up with HP and participated in fan culture while it was still going on, but recently met someone who never got involved until last year. We both love the series, but we have vastly different interpretations and relationships with the HP universe. Partly because of age, sure, but I think also because of our relationship to the fandom/culture surrounding it. – Emily Esten 5 months ago
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  • A nice idea for a topic, Stephanie. I have to confess to having a little bias in favour of the HP books as I was an extra on the last HP film, but having said that, I too discovered the books shortly afterwards. So, at the tender middle-age of 49 I started reading them. As an adult, what I discovered was a remarkably consistent form of storytelling that also matured and darkened in its subject matter as its young readers grew up. One thing I will credit Rowling with is encouraging a generation of children to do what successive UK governments had failed to do - namely to read for pleasure! I enjoyed discussing the stories with my nephew as he grew up and trying to solve the great puzzle, so in that respect alone it helped to connect the young and the not so young in a shared literary experience. It also opened up a few interesting discussions with other adults who saw me reading the books on the Tube; those who, perhaps under different circumstances, I might never have spoken to. – Amyus 5 months ago
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  • I grew up with the Harry Potter series so it's an important part of my childhood. I was actually too young when they first came out, so my mom would read them to me as bedtime stories instead. It turned into a bonding experience as my mom became almost equally immersed in the wizarding world as I was. I'm sure it was a different experience for her than it was for me. Since I was a child and the Harry Potter series involves a "coming of age" narrative, the human issues I was reading about were mostly on par with my own experiences growing up. The books and my life could co-exist side by side. For my mom, it perhaps provides a bit of nostalgia. It takes her back to when she was younger and makes her feel like a kid again. Feeling "like a kid" again while reading the books and actually being a kid while reading them is obviously a completely different perspective. Perhaps, for adults, it provides a mini-vacation from a world that seems to have lost a bit of its magic. It reminds you of an innate sense of curiosity and wonder we often lose as we get older. For kids reading them, there is perhaps less of a barrier between the wizarding world and our own. After all, Harry Potter incorporates our own (Muggle) world and the wizarding world within the same universe. The wizarding world seems like an undiscovered realm that we're too oblivious to realize is hidden right under our noses. The capacity for human ignorance can be astounding, so why can't there be a bit of magic we've failed to notice? Our entire existence is both a miracle and a mystery. Maybe J.K. Rowling is a witch herself! She certainly cast a spell on several generations worth of readers. As to how she did that so successfully, that's a more difficult question to answer. Audiences tend to like the ole' good versus evil storylines. Its voices aren't solely adolescent ones either, which separate it from YA that almost exclusively focus on kids' perspectives. I also greatly admire anything that's relegated to being mere "children's entertainment" which is instead handled with maturity and depth and acknowledges kids' capacities for awareness and intelligence that exist outside of adult comprehension. – aprosaicpintofpisces 5 months ago
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What is the purpose of Dystopian Literature?

Analyse what a Dystopia is whilst describing distinctive characteristics of the typical dystopian story. Draw comparisons between today’s societal struggles, such as the epidemic of social rebellion and political disagreements, and the dystopian story – could the purpose of this literary genre be the author’s portrayal of modern day society? Perhaps the author wishes to enlighten the reader of such issues in society through story-telling, an appealing and engaging form of media. Dystopian literature also sheds light on philosophical questions which could be further explored such as ‘What does is mean to be human?’. Most literature leaves the reader asking questions, however does this genre more so than others by forcing us to accept humanity’s flaws? Use literary examples throughout this discussion.

  • I think I might do a post focusing on this subgenre. – ChrisKeene 2 years ago
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  • Remember when Dystopia wasn't just in young adult media? Those were the days. – Lazarinth 2 years ago
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  • Also explore the idea of why so many dystopian books are at the forefront of modern education. Animal Farm, 1984, A Brave New World etc. as well as the outburst of "teen" literature. – vforvangogh 2 years ago
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  • This is an awesome topic! I love the idea and question of dystopian literature. Orwell especially, is a person you have to mention/focus on in this topic! – SeanGadus 11 months ago
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  • Explore what was happening during the time of the publication of the previously mentioned modern education books such as Animal Farm, 1984, and A Brave New World to find any other sparks that could have created the desire to write a dystopia novel. – AnthonyWright 11 months ago
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  • Just to let people know, this one is already in circulation, I'm just waiting for people to approve it so it can be published. – Henry 4 weeks ago
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Guilty Pleasures

What are we saying when we claim the book we are reading is a "guilty pleasure"? Why do we assume we should feel ashamed for our choice of literature? Are we presuming that all literature can be qualitatively measured? Why should we, even with a tongue-in-cheek intent, associate reading with guilt of any kind? It can be argued that when applied to food there can be at least metrics for what define "good" and "bad" (even if it amounts to the same thing: unnecessary and self-inflicted shame). Who are we assuming judges us for books that we think we should not be reading?

  • Actually a really interesting topic that spans literature and psychology. It would be interesting to also look at the division of categories - women vs men, different age groups, cultural divisions (for instance reading 'The Satanic Verses' in India is a very different 'guilty pleasure' to reading a Mills & Boons in America), even looking at the period changes as different popular culture texts have been adopted into mainstream society. – SaraiMW 4 weeks ago
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Taken by MKLee (PM) 4 weeks ago.
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The beginnings of religious belief and science

Is there fine line where spiritual beliefs and the observable natural world can meet? Both are part of humanity and helps shape the world. There is an effect and many do not agree to have both combined or integrated. Religion may be in peoples blood and culture, based on the life that is build upon. It helps find meaning that people are not just organisms that evolve from an insect or a grain of sand. The science part of it brings the engineers of the physical world. Science helps people to learn about the world. Discovering that which can be observed and also build peoples lives by learning about every degree and inch of the universe. A higher power may have fine tuned the universe for human being to live here. After readings and studying there are scientists like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawkins, Nicola Copernicus that after they reach the limit of their studies, they believe of a higher intelligent mind. At a religious belief some say it is within people, God. Research shows that humans naturally want to know everything, that’s is why people question the world. There is a fine line where most people question a higher power. The world is a beautiful place and people are part of it. The belief of a greater power keeps many people grounded. Many scientists wish to fly within the clouds searching for something that is staring right back. Others are humble even within their intelligent minds to believe that someone or something is guiding the world. This is an important topic that sustains a mind to go within the parameters of people’s existence. The universe is an amazing puzzle and people are the chess of the world.

  • Interesting and always relevant topic, but it might be too broad. Perhaps you could narrow it down, discussing certain fields or aspects of science and religion? – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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  • Generally I would agree with Stephanie's comments, as your topic suggestion reads a little like a mini-article in itself. Nevertheless it's an topical suggestion for a topic (excuse the pun), considering how crazy the human world is right now. I'd be careful about the Anthropic principle angle though as the assumption that we live in a universe fine tuned for humans is very one-sided. We could, just as easily, have evolved and adapted to the universe as it is - we are, after all, a highly adaptable species. Good luck with your science and religion class. – Amyus 3 months ago
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  • Updated and made corrections. – rghtin2be 2 months ago
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Taken by Opaline (PM) 1 month ago.
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Is Learning Another Language a Waste of Time?

Some say that being able to speak another language allows you to process your native language better and increases memory. Others say that the existence of translators already, and the rise of artificial translators are making this knowledge redundant. Some that learning another language is a trivial hobby unless you intend to live in the country of the language they speak. Is it worth the time and brainpower? Should some languages be prioritized over others? What is the worth of a second language?

  • Absolutely not. In my experience, there is nothing more valuable than learning another language. According to the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, the language influences your thoughts and cognitive processes. I know learning a second and third language has made me very aware of how the hypothesis can be true – pennypun 2 months ago
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  • The politics of language learning is all about lingua franca. It may be worth looking at how economics affect language learning, specifically ESL. – Munjeera 2 months ago
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  • Interesting thought, but I'm honestly not sure that in our global society, you're going to find a lot of people who eloquently argue that learning a second language is a waste of time. *However*, some ways of learning definitely work better than others, and I can see discussing and comparing those. – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
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  • There is a saying, which I paraphrase here: "To understand a man you must walk a mile in his shoes". Much the same can be said about learning another language for it acts as a gateway into another culture as well helping to develop one's own cognitive capacity. For me, the sheer delight of being able to watch a film in its native language and catch those nuances of speech so often excised by clumsy subtitles or mangled by a poor quality dub, is beyond comparison. – Amyus 1 month ago
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  • It would also be worth considering the body of research around the cognitive effects of bilingualism, especially in how it may influence ageing. – BarryMW 3 weeks ago
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Adrienne Kennedy's "Funnyhouse of a Negro" and the Importance of Absurdist Theater

Analyse the usage of absurdist elements in Adrienne Kennedy’s "Funnyhouse of a Negro" and how they functioned in the course of the play.

  • I would add for whoever picks this up to analyze the "importance" of the use of absurdist theatre in Funnyhouse rather than just "analyze" it. There is a very specific political reason African American theatre of this time, utilizes absurdism. Whoever writes this will likely need to provide background on absurdism, the Black Arts Movement and Kennedy's relationship with that movment. Also taking a look at Kennedy's other works provides insights into how she specifically uses it. Looking forward to reading this. I hope someone picks this up. – Christen Mandracchia 2 months ago
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The Depiction of Alternative Subcultures in Literature

In literature, stereotypes of alternative subcultures are rampant. Analyse the possible bases for such stereotypical depictions.

  • Oh, the potential! I love analyzing subcultures and the controversy they create. I think for others reading your topic, you should give them a little more detail. Unless you intentionally left this introduction vague. In that case, I understand. – Emily 2 months ago
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The Debate of Diagnosis in "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"

In Joanne Greensberg’s "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden", the protagonist, who is based on Greensberg, is diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, in a 1981 New York Times article, two psychiatrists challenge this diagnosis using the diagnosis criteria in the DSM-3. Using the DSM-5’s diagnosis criteria, can it be argued that the protagonist suffers from schizophrenia?

  • I love Joanne Greenberg's work. I am so unqualified to write this topic but my fingers are crossed someone is ready to get their hands dirty in research. This has the potential to be a major analysis which could bring up other literature characters and the way mental illness is represented. However, if you were hoping to solely focus on Greenberg's novel, I think who writes this topic should include the film adaptation and speak on how it helps or hurts the diagnosis. – Emily 2 months ago
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  • I think the first point of research would be comparing the DSM-3 and DSM 5's diagnosis criteria for schizophrenia to the criteria used when Greenberg's protagonist was institutionalized in the late 1940's. – EvelynBlack1994 2 months ago
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