Rita Skeeter uses the Daily Prophet, Xenophilius Lovegood uses the Quibbler, and the Psychology Department is here to use the Editorial Board blog to report today’s Potterhead Convention.(Okay, no, it wasn’t really a Potterhead Convention, it was a talk on the various themes and lessons found in the phenomenal Harry Potter series, but that’s still pretty awesome.)
The BDR club had been spamming WhatsApp groups with messages and pleas for attendance for a week—quite unnecessarily, since we were every bit as enthusiastic about it as these hardworking members! And they did not disappoint. With a table full of stunning props, and the walls of the Admin Gazebo plastered with various scrolls and quotes, the “Quibbling with the Quibbler” talk had us all fangirling before the session even began.
Ms Wafa Hamid, an associate professor in the English department, moderated the talk before inviting the audience to speak. She began by sharing her own experiences with the books and how she was introduced to them, before talking about the multitude of underlying themes present throughout the books. Ms Hamid guided our discussion towards the issues of representation in media, the subjective dichotomy between “good” and “evil”, how power can corrupt a person, the importance of a space safe for questioning ideas (with respect)—and how such heavy fare can be found in a so-called “children’s book”, and if it belongs there.
In the words of an English department student who attended the talk, “Wafa is love, Wafa is life”, and after today, we’re inclined to agree. Ms Hamid, who introduced herself as a hard-core fan of the books, was wonderfully insightful in her analyses. She really connected with everyone present, and when she opened the floor for discussion, the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
Now here’s the thing: in so many so-called “interactive discussions”, what really happens is that only two or three people speak while the rest act as if someone has silencio’d them. And that was nowhere near what happened today. As soon as Ms Hamid invited insights and opinions from the audience, the students exploded into passionate discussions about their beloved characters. (Who does Harry Potter think he is, anyway? Ron Weasley does not get enough love. Neville Longbottom is bae. Was Dumbledore really all that good? Does anyone like Snape? What about Draco Malfoy? The discussion was lively and never-ending.)
And it wasn’t limited to just the characters—was J K Rowling right in making Voldemort so inherently evil? Did the epilogue add to or subtract from the ending? What underlying universal themes can be found? Everything from the illusion of choice, to the role of education institutions in healthy debate, was extensively and enthusiastically debated—perhaps not the first thing that would come to mind when you think about Harry Potter!
The turnout was great, and the gazebo was packed with people. And it wasn’t just fans who were in attendance—even people who had never read the books were wearing “Certified Potterhead” badges (and walking away with promises of catching up!)
There was only one problem—it wasn’t enough! Just one talk for one hour isn’t enough to satisfy us; we still need to discuss the metaphors presented by Remus Lupin, or whether or not the concept of a “greater good” is for the best, or why Umbridge is so detested, and a whole host of other topics that went ignored because of the time constraint. It was a brilliant session, and we want more!
Harry Potter has been a true phenomenon; even after almost two decades since The Philosopher’s Stone came out, people are still reading and connecting with these books. An entire generation has grown up with them, and they continue to touch and influence lives across all ages—and today’s talk was a testament to their everlasting impact.
(After all this time? Always.)
Reported By – Tarang Kaur
Photo Credits – Abhilasha Mansata