Keynote speaker talks morality in Harry Potter

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Keynote speaker talks morality in Harry Potter

English professor Suzie Asha Park  gives the keynote presentation “The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death” at the opening reception for “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” Park said she first became acquainted with the Harry Potter books five years ago.

English professor Suzie Asha Park gives the keynote presentation “The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death” at the opening reception for “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” Park said she first became acquainted with the Harry Potter books five years ago.

Kristen Ed

English professor Suzie Asha Park gives the keynote presentation “The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death” at the opening reception for “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” Park said she first became acquainted with the Harry Potter books five years ago.

Kristen Ed

Kristen Ed

English professor Suzie Asha Park gives the keynote presentation “The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death” at the opening reception for “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” Park said she first became acquainted with the Harry Potter books five years ago.

Brooke Schwartz, Staff Reporter

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The opening reception of the Booth Library’s Harry Potter exhibit saw students and community members alike gathered together in their shared adoration of J. K. Rowling’s popular book series.

People of all ages were in attendance, proving Harry Potter’s multi-generational appeal, which Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department, said is one of the reasons for the series’ success.

“I think it’s a great story that appeals to all ages,” DePetro said.

Bradley Tolppanen, interim dean of Library Services, draws a name to win a scarf during the opening reception to the Harry Potter Exhibit “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” Stacey Knight-Davis, head of Library Technology Services, dressed as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series.

Kristen Ed
Bradley Tolppanen, interim dean of Library Services, draws a name to win a scarf during the opening reception to the Harry Potter Exhibit “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” Stacey Knight-Davis, head of Library Technology Services, dressed as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series.

Jordan Armes, a local high school student, said his appeal had more to do with Harry’s unwavering loyalty to Hermione and Ron.

“It’s like a whole big symbol of friendship,” Armes said.

No matter what connection readers have made with these stories, they have inspired adoration from young and old alike.

English professor Suzie Park gave her keynote presentation entitled “The Boy Who Lives: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death.”

Park took a different look at Rowling’s series by examining how the series has made considering one’s own morality a more public and common thing.

Park said instead of living “carpe diem”, people have started living “carpe mortem” or “seize the death.”

She spoke of how the Harry Potter series paved the road for this “mainstreaming of death.”

Park also pointed out how death is never far away from Harry Potter or his friends in the books; from his beginning near-death experience with Voldemort to his last one, Harry is not new to the constant fear of the end.

“Harry Potter teaches us how to accept that we are going to die,” Parks said.

Park’s speech also stressed the real world importance this fantasy novel has had.

emmie Robertson, associate professor of trombone and euphonium, plays “Harry’s Wondrous World” with other members of the EIU Graduate/Faculty Brass Quintet. The song was one of six played by the quintet on Thursday night during their performance “An Evening at Hogwarts,” which was part of the opening reception of the Harry Potter exhibit in Booth Library.

Kristen Ed
Jemmie Robertson, associate professor of trombone and euphonium, plays “Harry’s Wondrous World” with other members of the EIU Graduate/Faculty Brass Quintet. The song was one of six played by the quintet on Thursday night during their performance “An Evening at Hogwarts,” which was part of the opening reception of the Harry Potter exhibit in Booth Library.

Jake Armes, a senior at a local high school, also likes this aspect of the novels.

“Harry Potter hits on real world issues in a way that’s enjoyable as a story,” Armes said.

The reality aspect in turn influenced the novels themselves, Park said.

“I think Harry Potter is very much a product of our own time,” she added.

Audience members grab a snack at the opening speech of the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Booth Library.

Kristen Ed
Audience members grab a snack at the opening speech of the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Booth Library.

Despite its lack of an age limit, the lessons found within the novels are sometimes difficult for anyone to deal with, which is one of the points Park was hoping to make.

“Harry Potter … reminds us that without death, there is no life,” Park said.

Marita Metzke, the director of the Academy of Lifelong Learning, partnered with the library for this program.

The connection between the series and human morality is what makes Harry Potter a timeless novel that all ages can relate to, Metzke said.

“I think it’s the message of morality that we all face,” Metzke said.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]