Exploring the Real and the Imaginary: The Parallel Worlds of Harry Potter


Primary Participant:

Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig, Health Sciences Library

JK Rowling provides a highly creative vision of another, parallel and infinitely believable world that succeeds in part because it draws on both old and new. Mythology and persistent visions of heroism; Renaissance medicine, chemistry, and alchemy; language and recognizable ancient beliefs represent the old, quirky and amusing games, relationships, names, and technology the new. This juxtaposition provides a world familiar and comforting, but at the same time one that continually explores new and exciting territory, and provides a mirror for understanding moral and social dilemmas and perhaps even for resolving personal issues and taking positive action in times of crisis.
So far reaching is the influence of Harry Potter that the series has sparked the imaginations at the National Library of Medicine, which created a traveling exhibition on this Renaissance world. This exhibition will be hosted by the Health Science Center Library and will serve as a focal point for a series of events, including lectures featuring UF and national experts. In addition, an (Un)Common Read Class will be taught in the fall, with students reflecting on the activist message of Harry Potter. We are seeking funding through Catalyst to augment these events, through additional creative, interactive and engaging means, including film-making and essay contests. These events will facilitate a deeper understanding of the role of literature in shaping lives, behavior and the nature of science (and magic) and actively engage participants in the creative process. Film screenings, some held in the Digital Worlds Institute, will include introductions that highlight salient points in the film. Together these activities will provide significant opportunities to create a nexus for creative expression at the University of Florida.