Effective Date of this Description/Syllabus: Spring 2008

Prepared by: Dr. Rhonda Wilcox

Office: Fine Arts 202

Phone: (770)358-5296

email: rhonda_w@gordonstate.edu

Spring Office hours:__________________




Course Designation: English 2991

Humanities Colloquium: A colloquium on selected topics in the humanities emphasizing the development of critical thinking skills.

Section C

Course Title: Harry Potter and Folk Tale Patterns

Class hours per week: 2

Credit hours: 2

Division offering course: Humanities

Prerequisite for the course: A C or better in English 1101.


Course description for college bulletin:Students will discuss J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels in light of standard folktale patterns, using Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale. The course will also explore social and psychological implications of the text..


Teacher’s Course objectives:

To help students

See the underlying structures within narrative;

Recognize the variations of such structures in various stories;

Understand that these choices help explain the psychological and social significance of the stories;

And enjoy the aesthetic variations provided by a master of narrative.

The overall purpose is to learn from each other (teacher and students alike) by reading and discussing Rowling’s work.


Course Content:

Students will focus on one of the seminal works of narratological theory, Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale, and learn to apply it to the highly popular series of Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. Students will thus learn to see underlying structures within narrative and comprehend that such structures can be found in other narratives as well as the Potter books. Furthermore, the class will discuss the social and psychological implications of the particular variations of the folktale pattern presented by Rowling. The class will also consider the expansion and maturation of the pattern as Rowling developed the series. With this in mind, the entire class will be required to read the first through the fourth book in the series because of the increasing level of seriousness. For the end of the series, the class will be divided up into thirds (approximately), with each third reading and reporting on one of the last three books in the seven-book series for the benefit of the rest of the class. This plan should make the heavy reading load manageable during the course of the semester.


Required Texts:

Propp, V[ladimir]. Morphology of the Folktale. Trans. Laurence Scott. Austin: University Texas Press, 1968. ISBN 0 292 78376 0

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1997. ISBN 0 590 35342 X

---. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, 1998. ISBN 0 439 06487 2

---. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999. ISBN 0 439 13636 9

---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2000. ISBN 0 439 13960 0

And at least one of the following (as specified by the instructor):

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic, 2003. ISBN 0439358078

---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic, 2005. ISBN 0 439 78596 0

---. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Scholastic, 2007. ISBN-10 0 545 01022 5

Grading:                Quizzes:                                                                                                                                 20%

                                Participation (including a report on one of the last three books)                                 20%

Midterm Exam:                                                                                                                      20%

Term Paper  (planning conference required)                                                                   20%

Final Exam:                                                                                                                            20%


Standards: A=90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69


Attendance policy: The word colloquium refers to the idea of conversation. Class participation is essential to a colloquium, as the percentage of the grade accorded it above would suggest. You will find that experiencing a group’s reaction to a piece of writing is something that cannot be recreated through merely reading class notes. Furthermore, specific in-class activities will be used to help establish your participation grade, and in most cases these activities must be carried out during a particular class period. I do understand that some absences are unavoidable; if you must miss a class, let me know beforehand if you can (or leave a phone or email message even during class if need be); ask me or a classmate about assignments so you can prepare in case there is a pop quiz when you return to class. If you miss more than four classes you should not expect to pass the class. My home phone number is (404)373-5328. If you cannot contact me or a classmate, then read the next assignment listed on the syllabus. If you are in class, you will be expected to take the quiz. And in any case, I doubt you will want to miss this class!



Week 1 (1/7-11) Introductory material; Propp Ch. 3: “The Functions of Dramatis Personae”


Week 2 (1/14-18) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: application of Propp’s functions


Week 3 (1/21-25) Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Monday; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Week 4 (1/28-2/1) Propp’s Ch. 6: “The Distribution of Functions”; Chamber of Secrets cont’d: variations


Week 5 (2/4-8) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Propp’s Ch. 8: “On the Attributes of Dramatis Personae and Their Significance”


Week 6 (2/11-15) Prisoner of Azkaban cont’d: The seeker; the search for the father


Week 7 (2/18-22) Propp’s Ch. 4: “Assimilations. . . Double  Morphological Meaning”; Prisoner cont’d


Week 8 (2/25-29) Midterm; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [Feb. 28: last day to drop classes without WF]

Spring Break (3/3-7)

Week 9 (3/10-14) Goblet of Fire continued; Propp’s Ch. 5: “Some Other Elements of the Tale”


Week 10 (3/17-21) Goblet of Fire continued: elements of maturation: Propp’s Ch. 9: “Tale as a Whole”


Week 11 (3/24-28) Term paper conferences; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: reports, responses


Week 12 (3/31-4/4) Order of the Phoenix cont’d: political corruption, personal guilt


Week 13 (4/7-11) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: reports, responses


Week 14 (4/14-18) Half-Blood Prince cont’d: flawed heroes, changing perspectives


Week 15 (4/21-25) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: reports, responses; introspection and adulthood


Week 16 (4/28) Last day of regular class for M, MW, and MWF classes: Term Paper due (Monday)