We have all heard of universities like Yale and Georgetown offering Harry Potter courses and we get excited and say, “I wish this were at our school.” Well after hearing her students say that very same thing, one sociology assistant professor in Bowling Green, KY decided that she would do just that.
As a result, Bertena Varney, Assistant Professor of Sociology will be taking her Soc 235 Inequality in Society class and develop a fully immersed Harry Potter themed class this fall at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College.
In the course, students will use the following books, The Sociology of Harry Potter, The Harry Potter Series, Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Tales of Beetle the Bard. They will be expected to read one book every 2 weeks, 1-3 articles a week and the other books as directed. She is stressing to her students that this class will be book focused and not movie focused.
The course will begin with a Sorting Hat Ceremony where each student will take their results fromPottermore.com and then work with their houses on group projects, presentations, and social campaigns to earn house points to win the house cup that will be awarded Finals Week during the End of Year Feast.
There are other professors and staff that have volunteered to play the parts of the Heads of Houses and to be mentors to these students when they are working on their projects and campaigns. Thus far there is David Jones, Assistant Professor of Art who will oversee the Gryffindor House, Librarian, Kathryne LeFevre will help the Hufflepuff House, Claudean Ellis, Assistant Professor of Math will be leading the Slytherin House and Assistant Professor of Science, Maggie Hook serve as the Ravenclaw Head of House.
The course will focus on the inequalities that are found in the Harry Potter series that mirror those inequalities in the “real” world. These will range from social status, racism, feminism, child abuse, education, poverty, government corruption, and more. The students will then take these inequalities and examine how J. K Rowling explained and at times resolved these issues in the series and then as a discussion the students will find a solution as to how they can help take this issue and make the world a better place. The students will also find a local social organization that will allow them to volunteer their time and see how they can make a change in their world.
This is what Librarian, Kathryne LeFevre had to say about the class:
Great literature provides both a mirror and a window for the reader. The mirror provides readers with the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences and how they relate to the characters of the story. This self-reflection can then become a window to the real world and help readers better understand their place in the world and help them be more empathetic to those who are different than themselves. Ms. Varney’s use of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series in her Social Inequality class will provide her students with the opportunity to explore the inequalities in Rowling’s fantasy world and connect them to the inequalities they see in their own communities and throughout the world. By reflecting on these inequalities, these students will gain a better understanding of themselves and others, and, hopefully, be motivated to fight for equality and pursue positive change. Plus, they will experience the joy of reading some really great books! ~ Kathryne LeFevre Librarian
The class will also have the option to collaborate with The Fandom of the Phoenix, a local non profit chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance with book discussions, trivia nights, and campaigns dealing with animal rights that will coincide with the release of “Fantastic Beasts” in November and The Get Out and Vote Campaign and more. Ms. Varney’s students helped with the organization’s book drive, Accio! Books which resulted in over 1100 books that are being donated to local schools and libraries this semester.
The Harry Potter Alliance is a non profit that is recognized by JK Rowling and helps make “fans into heroes” by creating social awareness campaigns that local community chapters like Fandom of the Phoenix can participate in and bring awareness to social inequality issues. A few of the upcoming students as well as Ms. Varney and the school librarian, Kathryne LeFevre are also members of the Fandom of the Phoenix.
When asked about what she thought about the upcoming class, student and Fandom of the Phoenix Vice President Jackie Travis said,
I am so excited about the new Social Inequities class this fall. I am really excited that we are g to be able to look at different inequities in the world through the world of Harry Potter. Since we are probably going to be covering topics that most people don’t like to talk about I think this is going to be a good way to bring light to these sort of issues. Yes, we are going to be having fun in this class but we will also be covering some serious topics too. I can’t wait what Ms. Varney have planned for us in the fall! ~ Jackie Travis, student
The class will also be collaborating with the schools Movie Club by attending the opening weekend of “Fantastic Beasts” for a evening of movies and food. Another opportunity they will have for collaboration is to present a project at the school’s Banned Book Week Event and the Comic Book Art Show both organized by Ms. Varney’s Mass Media class and David Jones’ Art Classes.
This fall semester looks to be an eye opening one for these students and a chance for them to experience what Dumbledore said to Harry in “The Goblet of Fire”
It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be. ~ JK Rowling
If you are interested in learning more about this course please check out the Harry Potter in the Classroom Facebook page here.