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Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies hosts Harry Potter event

Emma Watson, left, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe star in Warner Bros. Pictures’ family adventure film, “”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”” Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The wizarding world of Harry Potter will be brought to campus.

Ohio State’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies will hold a Harry Potter conference and celebration this weekend. This is the fourth year the center has hosted a series of events under the topic “Popular Culture and the Deep Past.” Previous themes include Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.

Scholars around the country and world are welcome to analyze the text from various angles at the conference. Professors and students from Ohio, California, Florida, England, Iceland and other states and nations will give speeches about topics including magic, music, medieval medicine and characters.

There will also be roundtable discussion, stage magic show and Harry Potter trivia competition. The Medieval and Renaissance Performers Guild will give interactive dance show, song show and stage fight demo at the second day of the conference.

Graeme Boone, the director of the CMRS and a professor in the School of Music who founded the event, said his goal is to bring different people and different parts of the community together. Scholars, professors, students, artisans, calligraphers, dancers and musicians will gather together at this event, he said.

“You want to break down walls between different people,” Boone said. “The very obvious way to do it would be to hold a conference that is on popular culture, something people are very excited about right now — all over the place. And the celebration would be a part of the conference.”

This year is the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K.Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel. Using Harry Potter, CMRS is trying to connect current pop culture and traditions of the past, allowing academic scholars to think about the medieval roots of current culture, Boone said.

In the world of Harry Potter, students write with quills on parchment and use candles. Rowling incorporated many different medieval and renaissance elements in the novel, such as the educational systems and architecture style, said Daniel Knapper, a third-year Ph.D. student studying English. Knapper, who helped organize the conference, said the series was not completely dominated by traditions, but it was strongly influenced by medieval culture.

“This is a good series to explore from medieval and renaissance perspectives,” Knapper said. “On the one hand, Harry Potter and his friends seem like they live in present day, (they) live among us. On the other hand, the costumes they wear, the educational system suggest elements of early England. They are deeply rooted in medieval and renaissance past.”

Elizabeth Kirkendoll, a fourth year Ph.D. student in the School of Music, will give a speech at the conference. For her second time participating in “Popular Culture and the Deep Past” event, she will talk about Hedwig’s theme and how it relates to the movie’s plot.

“I really hope undergraduate students come toward our conference, and also the public,” Kirkendoll said. “I hope they come out and have something they are interested in, and maybe have some new perspective.”

The event is set to take place on Friday from noon to 9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in various rooms of the Ohio Union.

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