Opening reception: The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death

September 14, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Booth Library West Reading Room
Steve Brantley

This program is part of Booth Library’s fall exhibit and program series, “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon.” The exhibit will be on display at the library from Sept. 14 through Dec. 31, 2017.

For more information on this exhibit and program series, click here.

A special musical program, “An Evening at Hogwarts,” will be performed by the EIU Graduate/Faculty Brass Quintet, with members Jemmie Robertson, Andrew Cheetham, Ben Bruflat, Kevin Miescke, Eric Dawson and Jonathan Bowman. Light refreshments will be served. Suzie Park, professor of English, is the keynote speaker.

“The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter and the Culture of Death”

Twenty years ago, readers became acquainted with Harry Potter, whose fame rests largely on being “the boy who lived.” J. K. Rowling’s epic series has invited millions of readers to reflect upon what it means to live by considering what it means to die. The condition of mortality is not what Harry needs simply to outrun. In fact, the series appears to be a long meditation on what it means to embrace the condition of mortality. We live in a culture that tends to deny the reality of death at the same time that it luxuriates in ultra-violent imaginings of death. Without the benefit of contemporary Ars Moriendi (or advice on the art of dying), we can nevertheless turn to imaginative works like the Potter series for philosophical reflections on the connectedness of being in the world and leaving it.

Dr. Suzie Asha Park is a professor of English at EIU. She earned a Ph.D. in English at UC Berkeley and a B.A. in English and in African and Asian Languages and Literature at Duke University. While her undergraduate interests included pre-med studies, English, and music, her passion for literature won out in the end. Her areas of teaching and research interest include British romanticism, the novel, poetry, women writers, sentimental culture, literary theory, information theory, and the medical humanities.

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