Concurrent Panel Session Seven

Abstract Title

Friendship and the Reconceptualization of Family in Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Start Date

7-4-2018 4:00 PM

End Date

7-4-2018 4:50 PM

Abstract

In the years following the AIDS panic and the rise of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister, 1990s Great Britain saw hints of an emerging shift from the “traditional” family life characteristic of the conservative decade prior as marriage rates fell and divorce rates soared. Originally published in 1999 by single parent J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban continues to fascinate millions, transcending boundaries of age, race, class, and nationality. To date, however, little scholarship has been done to examine the novel as representative of the shifting familial values at work during the time in which it was penned. Set in the 1980s, Prisoner of Azkaban functions as a critical reflection upon the patriarchal, heteronormative family values and anti-homosexuality sentiments characteristic of the conservative decade. Though the novel begins with Harry in the traditional, heteronormative home of his blood relatives, he does not fit into this setting and faces abuse at the hands of individuals who would ideally protect him. Upon entering the world of magic, however, Harry rejects the traditional family structure and finds affection, as well as guidance, from friends, teachers, and an individual who functions as a surrogate parental figure. From an approach informed by research in non-nuclear family structures, prevalent discourses of the ’80s–’90s, and relationship dynamics, this study argues that Rowling’s text provides an alternative example of a functional family unit — ultimately suggesting “family” is a choice and, consequently, does not always resemble the traditional nuclear, heteronormative structure historically accepted as standard.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 7th, 4:00 PM Apr 7th, 4:50 PM

Friendship and the Reconceptualization of Family in Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In the years following the AIDS panic and the rise of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister, 1990s Great Britain saw hints of an emerging shift from the “traditional” family life characteristic of the conservative decade prior as marriage rates fell and divorce rates soared. Originally published in 1999 by single parent J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban continues to fascinate millions, transcending boundaries of age, race, class, and nationality. To date, however, little scholarship has been done to examine the novel as representative of the shifting familial values at work during the time in which it was penned. Set in the 1980s, Prisoner of Azkaban functions as a critical reflection upon the patriarchal, heteronormative family values and anti-homosexuality sentiments characteristic of the conservative decade. Though the novel begins with Harry in the traditional, heteronormative home of his blood relatives, he does not fit into this setting and faces abuse at the hands of individuals who would ideally protect him. Upon entering the world of magic, however, Harry rejects the traditional family structure and finds affection, as well as guidance, from friends, teachers, and an individual who functions as a surrogate parental figure. From an approach informed by research in non-nuclear family structures, prevalent discourses of the ’80s–’90s, and relationship dynamics, this study argues that Rowling’s text provides an alternative example of a functional family unit — ultimately suggesting “family” is a choice and, consequently, does not always resemble the traditional nuclear, heteronormative structure historically accepted as standard.