The profs haven’t turned into wizards, and no one’s handing out wands to the students, but Champlain College goes, um, whole Hogwarts this semester with a nationally touring exhibit called “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine.”
Set up in the library, the exhibit includes such artifacts as a caged owl, a display of the J. K. Rowling series and other relevant tomes on subjects from alchemy to zoology. While this part will be open to the Potter-loving public, the programming around the exhibit is, sadly, for Champlain peeps only and may be guarded by basilisks. It kicks off September 8 with keynote speaker Lauren Nishikawa, a former CC student who’s now a game developer at the college’s Emergent Media Center. She’ll deliver remarks based on “the fantasy world of her childhood and teenage years.”
Other activities: visiting with “Hedwig” — aka Harry’s personal owl, but this presentation showcases a regular falcon, hawk and owl; a talk with Vermont-based, modern-day Druid Ivan McBeth; HP movies and readings; workshops in herbology, astrology, improv comedy and mystery theater; and, of course, a quidditch match.
If all this doesn’t sound very academic, librarian Marie Kascus suggests otherwise. “One reason the exhibit captured our attention is that we know Harry Potter resonates with young people and continues to generate interest and excitement,” she says. “The second reason,” Kascus adds, “is that there is a perfect marriage between the exhibit and our Core 210 course called Scientific Revolutions, where students learn to appreciate the development of scientific thought … and the impact of natural philosophy on Western civilization.”
(OK, children raised on Harry Potter books are now in college. Raise your hand if that makes you feel as old as Dumbledore.)
Anyway, Kascus notes that she and fellow librarian Paula Olsen submitted a proposal to the organizations behind the exhibit, the American Library Association and the National Library of Medicine, to be selected as one of its academic library hosts. The school put together its own programming. CC student Craig McKeon designed the accompanying website.
Heads up on Tuesday morning, September 14: That’s when faculty will “get in the spirit” and dress as their favorite HP character. Wonder if anyone will choose Lord Vol — er, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?