HSU teaches students about all things ‘Potter’

By Savanna VandenHeuvel 
Flapjack Chronicle 

“One of the best days had to be the last,” Perla Contreras said. “We had a Harry Potter party [and] people brought in all sorts of fun wizard themed snacks like cauldron cakes with ‘potions’ in them, ice cream, candy, butterbeer, etc. and we ended it off with the final Potter Trivia game in which ‘Gryffindor never wins!’”

J.K Rowling’s; Harry Potter series is no longer just leisure read, it is now an educational read with the added bonus of English 104 credit. Over the past seven semesters, HSU has offered students needing to fulfill their GE English requirement the opportunity to enroll in an English class that is all things “Potter.”

This course is taught by Laurie Winter. Winter, like her students, has a true passion for the series. Being a mom of two boys, an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old, her children grew up with the series, so she grew a passion for it too.

In addition to Winter’s passion for the series, she allows the students enrolled in the course to express their knowledge of all seven books through different activities such as: plot or character analysis or book trivia that gets the whole class actively engaging. Perla Contreras, a sophomore, who took the course in the fall of 2012, gave great reviews of the class.

“We analyzed the book and pointed out the small things, like the literary devices, metaphors, symbolism and all the little details,” Contreras said. “It also helped that we were all so passionate about the series and went into depth about certain aspects of it such as the meaning of all the deaths or the translations of spells and potions.”

Not only is this course a good way for “Potter” fans to analyze the series and get a better understanding of the truth and meanings behind Rowling’s words, it also meets the GE English requirement.

One concern with this course is the writing portfolio. Winter made it clear that the students enrolled in this course write the same amount of essays and same topics as other English 104 class, but their essays have a little twist to them. And each essay written in this class meets the requirements for the end-of-semester writing portfolio.

“There is a course average of seven [students] receiving 12’s on their portfolios,” Winter said. “Compared to the average two [students] in other English 104 classes.”

Three essays are required for the course: a personal narrative, an analytical response of their choice in relation to the “Potter” series and finally, a research paper in which they write about parallels between the “Potter” series and the real world. The latter essay pulls from real world concepts such as the Freudian concept of the id, ego, and superego which sophomore, Catherine Cardenas wrote about in the fall of 2012.

“I wrote about how Ron, Harry and Hermione are like literary personifications of the Freudian concept of the id, ego, and superego,” Cardenas said.  “But you could have written about anything. I know one person wrote about how Luna could be diagnosed as someone with Aspergers Syndrome.”

This course is in its last semester at HSU, but starting in the fall of 2014, Winter will be teaching a new special topics English 104 class. This new class will focus not only on Harry Potter, but also on sci-fi and fantasy topics such as Doctor Who and Game of Thrones.


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