Discover how teachers have used the series to teach medieval studies, classics, mythology, writing, literature, history, philosophy, and even science! by the editor of the book Teaching with Harry Potter.
G E N R E S C L A S S E S A N D T O P I C S
Teaching with Harry Potter
Fun activities and references
Cooking (Potter themed treats)
Crafts (wands, art, costumes)
Psychology (Patronus and Boggart)
Good moral choices
Getting girls into STEM
English Class: Writing
Composition: concepts like third-person limited
narration or cross-genre fiction.
Easy reads for ELD students
Creative writing: Hero’s journey, plot diagramming,
foreshadowing, surprise twists, worldbuilding
Writing bestsellers, self-publishing and transmedia:
Online, Rowling is pioneering the web as a new kind
of author: Pottermore, a virtual community and
computer game in one, teaches readers a new way to
interact. Readers are creating fan fiction, fan art,
video mash-ups and more.
Children’s literature (of course)
Basic analysis (themes, metaphors, symbolism)
Name meanings and associated symbolism
The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary
Phenomenon, edited by Lana Whited, 2002
Reading Harry Potter: Critical Essays, edited by Giselle Liza Anatol, 2003
Harry Potter’s World: Multidisciplinary Critical Perspectives, edited by
Elizabeth E. Heilman, 2003
Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter (2nd ed.) edited by Elizabeth E.
Reading Harry Potter Again: New Critical Essays, edited by Giselle Liza
Classics like Harry Potter
These are all adult fantasy or semi-fantasy novels, but
ones not too graphic for older kids and young teens.
Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Folklore and myth from around the world
Inspiring the Classics
Chaucer, whose “Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale” concerns alchemy,
and “Pardoner’s Tale” inspired the Tale of the Three Brothers.
Ben Johnson, whose comedy The Alchemist explores alchemy
and the legend of the philosopher’s stone.
Harry Potter’s Bookshelf by John Granger examines
Rowling’s inspirations: Dante Alighieri, Jane Austen, Bram
Stoker, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte,
William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Geoffrey Chaucer, and
C. S. Lewis.
College students found elements of fairy tales and the
monomyth present in texts like Great Expectations, Pride and
Prejudice, etc., or magical symbolism in a text like The Faerie
English Vocabulary or Romance Languages
There are so many simple, well-known Potter spells that
offer memory aids for Latin roots. “Lumos” (the light
spell) contains the root “lum,” meaning light (illuminate,
luminous, luminescent). The Fidelius Charm (also known
as the Secret-Keeper charm of book three) has a “fid,”
Latin for trust or faithful (fidelity, confide, perfidy).
Imperio, the curse of commanding, gives us the Latin
root “imper”: to govern or command (emperor,
imperative, imperious). Crucio is Latin for torture
(crucible, crucify, excruciating).
Introductory freshman classes focus on Harry Potter as a
fun transition class, welcoming students to university
with a taste of the familiar.
Education majors construct lesson plans for the K-8
curriculum using the series.
Marketing and branding
Religion: considering the Potter question
Harry Potter and International Relations, edited by
Daniel H. Nexon and Ivar B. Neumann, 2006
The Law and Harry Potter, edited by Jeffrey E. Thomas
and Franklin G. Snyder, 2010
More Social Science
Jungian archetypes shine in all seven books, producing fodder
Philosophy or theology: concepts of good and evil, the soul,
the afterlife, and true righteousness.
Sociology, Gender Studies, Disability Studies, etc: issues of
race, gender, class, marginalization, and stereotypes
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts,
edited by David Baggett and Shawn E. Klein, 2004
The Psychology of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized
Examination of the Boy Who Lived, edited by Neil
The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for
Muggles, edited by Gregory Bassham, 2010
Alchemy, magical recipes
Culpeper’s Complete Herbal
Mandrakes, bezoars, cauldrons, and love potions
Culture: feasting, disease segregation, maps
Architecture: the fourteenth-century Gloucester Cathedral
Cloisters features in the first film, while the Great Hall at
Christ Church College, Oxford, serves as the model for the
dining hall at Hogwarts. Other film locations include Lacock
Abbey, Alnwick Castle, and Durham Cathedral.
WWII: the blood purity laws and ghettos of Deathly
Hallows, false propaganda and racism
Civil rights, suffrage, class differences, racial
profiling, LGBT Rights, and more
Harry Potter and History by Nancy R. Reagin
Hermione’s fascination with logic, arithmancy, and
astronomy can provide a theme for events.
Science professors speculate whether antigravity
research could someday create the brooms and flying
cars of Harry’s world.
“Harry Potter and Genetics,” taught at Sun Yat-sen
University in China, clarifies that the series is
stretching far beyond its origin as a work of
Roger Highfield’s The Science of Harry Potter: How
Magic Really Works
The key here is word problems: two trains coming
toward each other could be the Hogwarts Express
and a hippogriff. Calculating variables can decide
which house someone will be sorted into. If one is
multiplying and dividing money, knuts and galleons
can be used. This all works quite well for kids or for a
One can make computer programs using all these
variables as well.