The second session I attended is actually the one on which I chose to write my response paper for Professor Attebery, “Female Tricksters and Transformers.” Really what set it apart was the fantastic discussion afterward, but the papers themselves covered Mary Poppins, Nurse Matilda, Coraline, The Tricksters by Margaret Mayh, and Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness This last presenter was an undergrad, which was humbling and comforting at once.
Afterwards I went to a talk on “The Shifting Grounds of Fantasy,” using Ender’s Game and how orientation and disorientation and reorientation and the writing style itself work for the text, two Canadian dystopias that no one else in the room had heard of–Janet McNaughton’s The Raintree Rebellion and Dennis Foon’s Longlight Trilogy–then a Diane Wynne Jones book that I’ve not heard of but now really want to read called The Game, which involves the Greek gods and the astronomical bodies (Haley’s Comet is the main protagonist) and the struggle with prophecy and choice.
Next was “When Harry Met Chris,” which was enjoyable because I finally knew–and knew well–all the texts being discussed. This session focused only on Harry Potter and Christopher Chant (of Diane Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series), but discussion was not as exciting as I could have hoped for, nor were these the best HP papers I heard all conference. Most of these were talking about the subversive natures of the books, but the first, interestingly, challenged the prophecy/choice ideas from the pervious session. I’m a fan of having choices. And this author found some new choices for Harry. She was arguing that he had to learn to be a different type of hero, which now reminds me of Achilles vs Odysseus (Bronze Age vs post-Bronze Age) from Mythology class. She thinks Harry’s frustrated Bronze Age heroism might account for that “rapidly becoming obsessed with Draco Malfoy” (HBP).**
Then I attended a panel on “Resistance and Education: What Children’s Literature Teaches Us About Schooling.” I was burnt out. I didn’t enjoy this one all that much, but I woke up for the last paper on “Schooling Violence: Representations of Teachers in Matilda,” and actually need to contact that author to ask to cite her paper, if she’ll let me have it, for the HP paper I’m considering for Professor Attebery. This makes me glad I didn’t go to the session on Twilight that I was considering attending, though I think railing against Twilight and/or trying to understand it, might have kept me more awake.
Friday opened with Harriet the Spy as a subversive text, which was interesting, especially as I did my Pfeiffer paper on Harriet, then a paper that brought up forgotten cross-dressers in fairy tales, then a book maybe all of us should read, Jade by Sally Watson, about a girl pirate who goes off with the Revenge.
Then there was an editors’ round table that was helpful because I learned ways to get into scholarly publishing, if not book editing.
Then there was “Myth and Magical Beasts” that began with a history of the dragon and the dragon as a symbol of woman power (snake-goddesses), then a comparison of the book and film How to Train Your Dragon, and lastly Percy Jackson and Requiem for a Beast as pro-Western and anti-Western books.
**When I’m reading through this myself and can’t think what the heck I was referencing, it’s time to edit. So yes, this post will now go beyond 550 words. My apologies.
Harry is a frustrated Bronze Age hero, a man of action, a warrior, not a man to fight with diplomacy. In Half-Blood Prince, there is much that Harry could be out there fighting in his Bronze Age way, but he can’t; he’s in school, where he forced to think, to reason, and to study; he’s a Bronze Age hero/warrior, stuck in a post-Bronze Age world. Unwilling or unable to become the post-Bronze Age hero in Half-Blood Prince, he seeks a Bronze Age opponent, and finds Draco, the most nefarious person, at Hogwarts, and yes, hewas up to something, so well done, Harry, on catching that. I think that’s what the presenter meant, or that’s what I picked up. It was either that or Harry was becoming, post-OotP debacle, a post-Bronze Age hero and wanted to thwart Draco, who was unwilling to move beyond the Bronze Age. It might’ve been the second. But I think I could make both arguments, and I’m curious about fleshing that out… and talking to the presenter to make sure it’s different enough… if I even saved that program…. –Oct 10, 2011