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14 Fascinating College Courses for the Ultimate Potter Scholar

by Staff Writers

For fans, the upcoming release of the final installment of the Harry Potter movies is bittersweet. On one hand, the film is a much anticipated finale to the series that has been in production for almost ten years. On the other, it marks the end of the excitement and fanfare that goes along with the release of the films. Yet Potterheads need not despair. There are still plenty of ways to get your fix, even without new books or movies. How so, you ask? Colleges all over the nation are embracing Harry Potter mania, and many are offering courses that focus on the books and their characters. Potter fans young and old should look into signing up for these exciting college courses — not only are they educational, but fans of the series will get to learn more about the stories they love.

  1. Battling Against Voldemort, Swathmore College

    What compels us to want to read stories about battles against larger than life, inhuman evils? That’s the question that this course addresses, using the Harry Potter series — as well as Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials — to get students to think about modern myth-making and storytelling.

  2. Finding Your Patronus, Oregon State University

    Harry’s was a stag, Herminone’s an otter and Ron’s a terrier, but have you ever considered what your patronus might be? Cast to protect a person from Dementors and other dark creatures, these spells may not exist in real life, but the ideas that they represent certainly do — and students will get a chance to look inside and get inspired in this Oregon State course. Created to help students make the transition to college life, “Finding Your Patronus” enrollees are instructed on lessons from the books, which can be applied to their college lives, including skills in leadership and friendship.

  3. Christian Theology and Harry Potter, Yale University

    While Christian groups around the world may have protested the Harry Potter series, they perhaps should have taken this course before condemning the books for promoting witchcraft. The creator of the course, Danielle Tumminio, uses the class to bring out Christian ideas in the series, including forgiveness, salvation and grace, as well as the existence of god-like and Christ figures. The comparisons between Biblical theology and the books may surprise many, and provide a rich new way to look at the Harry Potter books.

  4. Harry Potter’s Library, Kansas State University

    While this course at Kansas State includes readings of other books from Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis and E. Nestbit, the core of the study focuses on the Harry Potter novels. Students take a critical look at the novels and will read and discuss them for class, comparing them to some of the other selections as well. Better yet, the course is being offered for the upcoming Fall 2011 semester, so fans of the series at Kansas State can get their Potter fix sooner rather than later.

  5. Knights of Old and Harry Potter, Georgetown University

    Much of Harry Potter‘s storylines take place in a charmingly medieval world, and one quite separate from the modern English landscape. In this course, taught by Professor Carol Dover, students will get a chance to examine this relationship, looking to some of the most famous works of medieval literature for comparisons as well as analyzing the ideas of coming of age and heroism.

  6. The Science of Harry Potter, Frostburg State University

    Perhaps one of the most well-known of the Potter courses, this class explores some of the science behind the magic in J.K. Rowling’s books. Students will get a chance to understand the physics of quidditch and the genetics of magical creatures through the semester-long science course. The cherry on top? Professor Plitnik, who teaches the course, is known for dressing up as Dumbledore from time to time.

  7. Harry Potter: Mystery and English Comedy, Ohio State University

    Taking a look at four novels in the Harry Potter series, this course will examine them in relation to popular English mystery shows, the American versions of the books as well as to the film adaptations. The running theme throughout the class is that the solutions to many of the mysteries presented is often contrary to first impressions — a topic with which any Potter fan who has read the books should already be familiar.

  8. Six Degrees of Harry Potter, St. Catherine University

    This 200-level lit course at St. Catherine’s was the result of a campus-wide survey asking students what their dream topic for a course would be. The school responded by adding this popular course to the schedule, during which students will read all seven of the hefty Harry Potter books. With the help of accompanying essays and class discussions, students will analyze the books and ultimately create their own research project related to them.

  9. Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion, Durham University

    Whether you are planning a career in education or just have an interest in learning more about it, this Harry Potter course could be a fun way to boost your education on education. The course aims to put the books in their social and cultural context, help students understand how the series has impacted 21st century education as well as exploring how education is depicted within the books in the series. Students will touch on big topics like bullying, school citizenship, intolerance and the commodification of education as they analyze Hogwarts and its students.

  10. The Ethics of Harry Potter, Bridgewater State College:

    Students in this philosophy course will get a chance to take a critical look at the philosophy and ethics presented by the series. Using Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics as a guide, the course looks at the choices characters make and the guidance they receive to understand ideas of courage, justice, morality, and temperance.

  11. The Wisdom of Harry Potter, Lawrence University

    The author of the Wisdom of Harry Potter book teaches this eponymous course at Lawrence University. The course addresses the books from a variety of angles, exploring them as a cultural phenomenon as well as addressing their relationship to myth, legend, and history and asking students to think critically about the moral and ethical lessons they contain. Enrollment for the course isn’t open to just anyone, however, and students who want to take it must have already read and possess in-depth knowledge of every book in the series.

  12. Preparing for Deathly Hallows, Augustana College

    This two-part summer course at Augustana gives students a chance to get out of the sun and spend time analyzing the final installment of the Harry Potter series. More fun than serious study, students will engage in a mock quidditch match, watch the accompanying film, discuss the books, and play a variety of fun games related to the series. Only three days long for each part, it can be a fun way for Potter fans to spend a weekend with like-minded individuals.

  13. The World of Harry Potter: A Critical Cross-Disciplinary Examination, James Madison University:

    One of the earliest courses in the Harry Potter trend, this class uses scholarly essays and mainstream media reviews as a means to help look at the books in the series more critically and understand their construction. The course can be a great asset to students in education, as one project requires students to create lesson plans based on the books that could be used to teach math, science, and English to grade school students.

  14. Rhetoric of Harry Potter, University of Texas, Austin

    Rhetoric is the use of language with persuasive effect, and the Potter novels are full of this kind of speech. In this course, students will take a look at some of the most effective uses of rhetoric in the novels and the political and social implications it may have. Additionally, students will examine major issues like race, violence, and propaganda in the books and write essays and final projects on a theme they’ve selected from the course.