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From Silence to Silencing (and Beyond?): The Absence of Queer Representation in the Harry Potter Universe
Linnéuniversitetet, Fakulteten för konst och humaniora (FKH), Institutionen för film och litteratur (IFL). (CHILLL)
2019 (Engelska)Ingår i: 24th Biennial Congress of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL), Silence and Silencing in Children’s Literature: Stockholm, Sweden 14-18 August 2019, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books , 2019Konferensbidrag, Muntlig presentation med publicerat abstract (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

When J. K. Rowling announced that she has always seen Professor Albus Dumbledore as gay after the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), the previous silence on the topic of queer sexuality within the Harry Potter universe came to an end. However, as Jim Daems clarifies in “‘I Knew a Girl Once, whose Hair…’: Dumbledore and the Closet” (2012), many academics and fans were upset that Rowling did not represent Dumbledore’s sexuality in the book series. For a book series that explicitly and repeatedly explores and problematises race, gender, ethnicity, age, nationality and class, the silence regarding diverse sexualities is not only surprising but problematic, as it suggests that there is no room for queer characters in the Wizarding World. I argue that the silence on this topic in the seven Harry Potter novels and the eight movies that are based on them undermines some of the didactic potential of the series to address human rights and equality. By silencing a queer character’s sexuality, the explicit ideology about everyone’s equal rights to exist and thrive is counteracted by an implicit ideology about queers’ sexualities being too deviant to represent within books and movies.

The stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) and the movies Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) were all published after Rowling’s announcement about Dumbledore’s sexuality. I argue that they are examples of silencing queer characters, since they do not explicitly represent Dumbledore as queer, and since Cursed Child portrays a relationship between Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy that is coded as romantic throughout the play, but ends up reaffirming heteronormativity when the boys discuss who will get a girlfriend first at the end of the narrative. In my paper I explore the consequences of the silencing of the queer for the overall didactic potential of the Harry Potter universe regarding human rights and equality, by defining explicit and implicit ideologies about sexuality in the Harry Potter novels, movies and Cursed Child. I also clarify in what ways Cursed Child and The Crimes of Grindelwald can be seen as examples of queerbaiting, expanding Emily Roach’s argument about Cursed Child in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Closet: Queerbaiting, Slash-Shipping and the Cursed Child” (2018) to the most recent addition in the Harry Potter franchise.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books , 2019.
Nationell ämneskategori
Litteraturvetenskap
Forskningsämne
Humaniora, Litteraturvetenskap
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-89795OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-89795DiVA, id: diva2:1365532
Konferens
24th Biennial Congress of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL), Silence and Silencing in Children’s Literature. Stockholm, Sweden 14-18 August 2019
Tillgänglig från: 2019-10-25 Skapad: 2019-10-25 Senast uppdaterad: 2020-01-28Bibliografiskt granskad

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