But it’s not exactly local…
The National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata (that’s in India, unfortunately) will be launching a new course on Harry Potter, which aims to encourage students to explore legal aspects of J.K Rowling’s fictional world and its many real life lessons.
The course titled ‘An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse’ will be offered as an elective to the students of the B.A LL.B (Hons) programme by faculty member Mr. Shouvik Kumar Guha and will commence in December.
The course will cover the following areas:
• Legal Traditions and Institutions in Potterverse (including role of law and rule of law in a magical society, moral choice and liberty in Potterverse and the role of bureaucracy in the Ministry of Magic)
• Crimes and Punishments in Potterverse (including Unforgivable Curses, Wizengamot Trials, Innocence of Sirius Black and Persecution of Tom Riddle)
• Morality, Social Values, Identity and Class Rights in Potterverse (including (human?) dignity and enslavement of House Elves, marginalization of Werewolves, Giants, Centaurs and Merpeople, Mudbloods and Squibs, militant literacy and misuse of texts)
• The Potterverse Economy (including Gringotts, the magic of money and economic growth and entrepreneurship)
• Politics in Potterverse (including bases of authority, terror and counterterror, resistance, intelligence and secret societies)
• Contracts and Agency in Potterverse (including Unbreakable Vows, Agents of Good or Servants of Evil, express will and loyalty, Snape and the Order of Phoenix, Dumbledore’s Man through and through)
• Family in Potterverse (including blood relationship, familial ties, testamentary law)
• Miscellaneous (including Quidditch and sports law, religion and destiny, Rowling’s legal battles and reflections, philosophical significance of Potterverse characters, technological anarchism & the hi-tech, low-tech wizarding world, archetypes and stereotypes, from ‘Mars is Bright Tonight’ to Horcruxes in Faerie Land and ‘Just behind the Veil’: Influences of Dante, Edmund Spenser and George MacDonald on Potterverse)
A spokesman for NUJS said the significance of the course lies in the fact that the young minds who have grown up reading and experiencing the excitement and the plot twists of Harry Potter also represent the future. They are the ones who will take up the role of future leaders, thinkers and bringers of change, having been exposed to the wealth of social values found within the Potter series.
The spokesman said:
“It is important for students to reflect on the picture that Rowling paints of the government and how it resonates with the readers, as they could compare the situations with their own governments.”
“The literary work vividly exposes the limitations of laws and institutions that allow a government to use its representatives to torture children for lying (or even for daring to tell the truth), that imprisons or even executes its citizens without the benefit of due process of law, that designs its prisons in a manner that is intended to drive the inmates to despair and suicide without any hope of reformation, that offers little in the way of democratic law-making process, that allows the wealthy to control and influence government policy, that curtails the freedom of the Press and uses it to spread its propaganda and that does not flinch before putting all its citizens under surveillance.”
The module has been causing a stir around the world and Manchester Universtiy Law Professor Claire McGourlay said she wishes she’d come up with the course herself.
“I have not had the benefit of studying the reading list for the course, but I can only assume it is not just about reading chapters of Harry Potter! On the face of it, the course looks innovative, and the Harry Potter fan in me wishes I had created it myself! It seems to deal with many areas of law by using the books as a platform to inform discussion. I hope it achieves what Shouvik Kumar Guha hopes it will, and that it encourage creative thinking in his law students and gets them thinking outside the box.”
Where do we register?