Leviosa – It’s On!

The big Harry Potter news this summer is that the Leviosa conference has begun! Hogwarts Prep is pleased to have Prof JBH in attendance and representing the school. Here’s a link and short blurb for his presentation on Saturday, July 9:

Magic, Technology, and Power: The Wizarding World’s Problem with Justice

Magic in the wizarding world of Harry Potter and technology in our ordinary Muggle world are two sides of the same coin. Both magic and technology enhance our natural powers. Their uses also shape our natural and social worlds. We will examine and seek to understand the socio-political effects of magic in Harry Potter – in particular, the wizarding world’s profound and systemic injustices.

Check out the full schedule to see all of the amazing programming the organizers have put together!

Dr. Hunter’s talk picks up from an earlier theme–magic and technology–and examines the social and political implications on the Wizarding World (and allegorically, on ours). He’ll be building on the presentation and essay published in Harry Potter for Nerds with new insights and analysis. Hope to see you there!Harry Potter for Nerds book cover

Two Hunger Games Presentations

I can’t help comparing The Hunger Games to the two landmark, but very different, dystopias, Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. This is in large part because of Neil Postman, who examined the effects of television on American society in his oft-cited work, Amusing Ourselves to Death. (A 1985 interview with Postman is well worth your time; it’s in two parts.) Like Postman, I think Huxley rather than Orwell has us pegged, and I think Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is an interesting case study of Postman’s thesis because THG has strong Orwellian and Huxleyian themes, and I argue that there is an narrative struggle between the two.

My first presentation was a TEDx Full Spectrum talk given in Feb 2012 at Barrett Honors College at ASU. I examined THG in light of Ellul’s critique of the technological society. In one of his last works, The Technological Bluff, Ellul uses the provocative phrase “terrorism in the velvet glove of technology.” I explained and applied this concept to a reading of THG. The presentation visuals are scant (it was a 20-minute talk), and unfortunately the video is inaccessible, though some may be able to scare it up from Vimeo. In due time I will append some written notes to accompany the slides.

The second presentation, however, is accompanied by my speaker’s notes. This talk was given at Barrett Honors College at the premiere of the Catching Fire movie. Here I jump back and forth between Orwell and Huxley to show how both elements are present in the film and in the marketing of the movie franchise. I’ve expanded this second presentation into a conference paper that may be coming to a venue near you next year.

Click on the slide to download the corresponding Powerpoint file:





And my speakers notes (pdf) to accompany “Weapons of Mass Diversion.”