“Potterheads” of the Knox College campus have created a place for students to express their admiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Meeting on a weekly basis, the Harry Potter Club shares their admiration for the renowned series through a myriad of activities from games and trivia to movie viewings. Although the club’s origin can be attributed to the popularity of the recent movies, Harry Potter Club president and sophomore Jenny Murphy believes that Harry Potter’s influence on today’s generation is one that transcends its prevalence in popular culture.
“It’s a very welcoming fan base and it’s very vast,” she said. “Harry Potter for me has always been something I could return to and it’s a way for me to make friends. The characters you sort of grow up with them.”
Murphy had the idea to start Harry Potter Club after noticing an affinity across the population of Knox for the Harry Potter franchise as well as campus-wide excitement for Harry Potter-themed events, such as Alpha Phi Omega’s upcoming Triwizard Run-a-Thon. Alongside the audience for Harry Potter Club across campus, Harry Potter has had a profound impact on Murphy, a classics major. Murphy likens reading the books to a literary scavenger hunt for influences from Greek mythological and ancient texts.
“I think I wouldn’t have the interest to read old books if I had not read Harry Potter,” Murphy said. “Yes, I’m a fan, but I also think it’s become my way of life.”
Each member has their own relation to the series some through reading and writing about it while others have enjoyed watching the movies. The club is all-encompassing, from students with even the slightest familiarity, to students who have found the novels deeply impactful in their individual lives. Sophomore Lauren Gray thinks that elements of Harry Potter, such as the sorting into houses at Hogwarts, have warranted the same cultural significance in identification as other personality indicators such as Meyer-Briggs or astrology signs. She believes the particular series has certain elements which justify its cultural impact.
“The world that J.K. Rowling built is so big that you can just imagine yourself in it,” Gray said. “She spent so much time connecting all the details, you notice every time you reread it. I think a lot of other series or franchises don’t have that.”
Secretary of Harry Potter Club and sophomore Plautilla Guatelli believes that J.K. Rowling was thorough in exploring human identity, including promoting international recognition of the franchise. Coming from Italy, Guatelli grew up watching the movies in Italian. She feels that Rowling revolutionized children’s and young adult literature by making important themes such as self-acceptance, unconditional love and sacrifice accessible to a wide audience. Among the most important themes she conveyed through Harry Potter is that growth is a process.
“[Harry Potter] doesn’t stay a kid forever,” Guatelli said. “Neither does he immediately at 11 acknowlede‘Okay, I’m the chosen one, I’m super responsible.’ It’s a progression.”
The club seeks to be a space where people can ditch their responsibilities for a short hour, relax and enjoy the company of peers with an interest in the series. Guatelli feels that Harry Potter appeals to students from a variety of majors and backgrounds. All of the members are excited to welcome newcomers to their meetings on Saturdays at 4 p.m. in GDH 104.
“[Harry Potter Club is] not just exclusive toward people who have read all the books or seen all the movies,” Guatelli said. “It’s a common space, like the common room in the [books]. It’s one big common room for all the houses.”