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The Teaching of Magic and Other Subjects Arcane in Children´s Fantasy: An analysis of schools and their values in J.K. Rowling´s Harry Potter and the Philosopher´s Stone; Tamora Pierce´s Alanna: the First Adventure; and The Earthsea Trilogy, by Ursula K. Le Guin.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay analyses how magic is presented and how the schools teaching it are structured in three series of children's fantasy literature: J.K. Rowling´s Harry Potter and the Philosopher´s Stone; Tamora Pierce´s Lioness Quartet books; and The Earthsea Trilogy, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It focuses on the boarding school story genre and uses Foucault´s view of institutions and discipline to analyse how the child characters are taught, and what they are taught at the schools, as well how the books themselves relate to these teachings and methods.The analysis shows that magic is treated in a similar fashion in all series: that it is seen as just another form of power, which is intrinsically neither good nor bad. Rather, that distinction lies in how it is used. In all the books the schools teach the child characters similar values: duty, honesty, friendship and courage are common themes, but above all the books stress responsibility, and the need to use magic responsibly. Also, as is the norm in boarding school stories, the schools themselves are portrayed in a positive manner, and the students submit to the institutions and their values. In all the series, the children internalise the values of their schools, and pass it on to other students.The essay explores whether or not the power of magic in the hands of children can upset the student-teacher hierarchy, and comes to the conclusion that it does not in these novels. The schools teach magic in such a way that they first teach their students basic, harmless magic, and by the time students learn dangerous magic, they will have internalised much of the values of the institution. That this is necessary to ensure the survival of the institution or the world itself, is shown by the threat that some antagonists pose.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 34 p.
Keyword [en]
Humanities Theology
Keyword [sv]
Humaniora, Teologi, children's literature, fantasy, Foucault, boarding school story, Harry Potter, Song of the Lioness, Earthsea
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-45293Local ID: 30087c6b-b003-42cb-bc42-ea4a2e6b1a61OAI: diva2:1018580
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 15 credits
Educational program
English, master's level
Validerat; 20121108 (anonymous)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

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