Prof JBH interviewed on Dumbbells & Dragons

Prof JBH, aka, Dr Joel Hunter, was interviewed by Mr Kenneth Rotter of the fantasy podcast Dumbbells & Dragons this month.

dumbbells-dragons-podcastThe topics they discuss on the show include:

  • how Prof JBH got interested in reading the Hogwarts saga
  • the books vs the movies
  • The Lord of the Rings and the importance of Sam Gamgee
  • homebrewing, choral singing, and Coachella
  • the superpower he would like to have
  • working out
  • his favorite character in Harry Potter (can you guess?)
  • the portrayal of Snape by Alan Rickman
  • the upcoming Leviosa conference
  • Ravenclaw Reader
  • parting advice for D&D listeners

Enjoy, and do support D&D by subscribing on iTunes and giving them a review! Roll a D6, gang.

St Andrews Conference Talk: Folktale Structure in Harry Potter

(Cross-posted at Joel Hunter PhD)

Unlocking Press, the publisher of Ravenclaw Reader, has posted the audio and slides of my presentation on the folktale structure in the Harry Potter series at the international conference on Harry Potter at the University of St Andrews in May 2012. I’m looking forward to participating in the upcoming webinar!


It starts slow as some house elves were helping me get the projector set up in the meeting room.

One point that I underplayed in this presentation was how well the entire series, taken as a single tale, conformed to Propp’s fairy tale structure. It is this fact together with the different responses to the particular books in the series that supports my hypothesis in answer to the question “Why do we love Harry Potter?”

Also, I attached three additional slides at the end that were part of an updated presentation of the research that I gave at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association meeting in February 2013. The content of these slides is a direct result of the discussions I had at St Andrews with colleagues and attendees of the conference. It’s a great example of how a good conference challenges and sharpens one’s scholarship.

Dumbledore is Death

Dumbledore, by Mary GrandpréA theory that…wait for it…this is the Holy Graal…J. K. Rowling herself has said, “It’s a beautiful theory and it fits.”

Mugglenet captures JKR’s tweets. Read about it at Time, Hypable, and The Daily Dot.


  • He had possessed all three Hallows.
  • At King’s Cross he welcomes Harry with open arms.
  • He is the only wizard Voldemort fears. What does the name Voldemort mean again?

Well done, Harry Potter readers (do you doubt that it was a reader who noodled this out?). Go canon.

Time to explore the implications of this identity and write a few lines of parchment…

Alchemy in the Harry Potter Series

Lily-smallJ. K. Rowling has confirmed that alchemical symbols are (at least one) key to understanding the characters in the Harry Potter series, their relationships with one another, and their actions.

In an entry entitled “Alchemy,” she explained that [Hagrid and Dumbledore] take on a symbolic position in Harry’s life, and it’s all to do with ancient beliefs around colour.

See more on Pottermore. The Hogwarts Professor is vindicated, as are those who have studied and analyzed Harry’s saga with these literary and metaphysical tools.