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The magic has come to the academy

At an international congress held at the beginning of the month, researchers discussed the connection between Harry Potter and Tolkien's stories and the medieval knights' plots

New York Times

Harry Potter. Heather Arden from the University of Cincinnati: "Many Arthurian elements can be identified in the books"

After millions of books that made him the most endearing wizard in the modern era, Harry Potter gets to enter the halls of the Academy as well. "If you look closely, you can identify many Arthurian elements in the books," says Heather Arden, a lecturer at the University of Cincinnati who has written about the parallels between JK Rowling's Harry Potter stories and classic medieval legends. "A very large part of Harry's plots reacts to ancient and wonderful patterns."

The lecture was at the center of the International Congress on Medieval Studies, which took place in early May at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and attracted about 3,000 researchers. Compared to the practice of academic conferences, this year's conference was surprisingly unbuttoned. There was no screening of articles presented there and almost anyone who was interested in it could find a vacant chair.

One of the main themes this year was the presence of archetypes from a period
The Middle Ages in contemporary popular culture. In addition to Harry Potter, we discussed
The researchers in JR Tolkien's Hobbit book series, which is commonly seen
including stories modeled after medieval literature, and
in the continuous and highly influential presence of figures from the Middle Ages - such as
Merlin or Thomas Aquinas - on contemporary culture. About a dozen articles dealt
In Joan of Arc and about half a dozen other women, no less extraordinary,
Hildergard of Bingen.

"We are talking about models and frames of reference," says Paul A.
Zermach, head of the Medieval Institute in Kalamazoo, who organized the congress.
"Apparently there are cultural patterns of the Middle Ages in the structure of understanding
the human We are taking ourselves back into the legends of King Arthur. It
Explaining its great popularity are won by writers such as Tolkien
and Rowling". In the eyes of experts, the perceptions and patterns that were coined during the Mymi period
The Middle Ages - which lasted from the end of the 5th century to the middle of the 15th century in Europe -
Still helping to understand the contemporary world.
Jonathan Jill Harris of Ithaca College, for example, gave a speech at the dinner
In which he compared Hannibal Lecter, the famous movie cannibal, to Titus
Andronicus, the Shakespearean warrior who had similar tendencies. "Shakespeare
He did not operate in a vacuum," says Harris. "Especially in his early plays, he
Use the conventions that characterized the drama of the Middle Ages. movies
Hannibal Lecter uses the same form that Shakespeare chose - pushing you all
Order something straight to your face until you say 'it's too much.'"

One of the popular topics at this year's convention was JR Tolkien,
who, in addition to his literary work, was also an expert on the Middle Ages, a philologist
from Oxford, who did not complete several research projects but was successful
To create one of the most beloved fantastic worlds of the readers of the century
The 20th came up with "Middle Earth", where hobbits and others ran around
magical creatures.
Jane Chance of Rice University talked about how experts compared the
Tolkien's first fantastic work, "The Hobbit", in the saga
"Beowulf", and his trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" to Spencer's work
and Mallory. "Tolkien cast the ancient epics of the Middle Ages into
Templates of what we now call fantastic literature," says Chance.
"He is the figure that bridges the two cultural periods and the present of
The fantasy genre. Harry Potter is steeped in the ethos of 'Middle Earth',
according to which the simple or small man wins, in the end
big".

In the spirit of the informal atmosphere that prevailed in the Congress, the lecturers who discussed appeared
Harry was fired as a witch from the teaching staff at Hogwarts, the school he attended
Harry learned the wizarding profession. In their lecture, the researchers made a comparison between
Hogwarts to King Arthur's court. The lecturers, Heather Arden and Catherine Lorenz,
Initially, they emphasized the physical points of similarity between the two worlds, such as
Invisible doors, magical animals and the use of parchment paper, seals
Wax and symbols of chivalry. Later they pointed out common thematic tricks,
such as the ease with which the characters are able to move between the natural worlds
to the supernatural.

"Like Arthur, Harry was meant to serve as an example and role model in his fight against the forces of evil
And the chaos," says Arden. "It is possible to link the incredible popularity of
Potter plots to the way they reflect the magic of the Arthurian world
that hide behind them. They unfold before the reader a picture of a wonderful community
which consists of exceptional people and which is centered around the hero, the leader
The superhuman, who is the most wonderful of all.

"This explains the fact that themes from the Middle Ages continue
to fascinate us", she adds. "The hero himself, whether it's Arthur
Or Percival or whether in Harry Potter, shows us an orphaned, normal child
Seemingly, can actually be an extraordinary person. Perhaps the most important feature
The most common thing between Harry and the Arthurian hero is that they both demonstrate
Before us is the power of the imagination to bring about transformations within the boundaries known between
things for humans, and show us the possibilities inherent in other worlds."

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