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Student Research Projects

MUDBLOODS! SCUM! CREATURES OF DIRT! or The Nature of Racism in Harry Potter

Student Laura Fitrer ‘14
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Stephen Hock
Dr. Susan Larkin
Department English
Course English 489: Senior Thesis Workshop

Abstract

This research project revolves around J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Through close textual analysis and heavy research on classism, essentialism, racism, and other prejudices, I demonstrate that despite the good objectives of this antiracist series, the antiracism in the Harry Potter books ultimately fails to overcome the racism in them. Rather, many of the species of characters, both magic and non-magic, are segregated into different groups based on genetic inferiorities which define each individual based on traits that are inherently essential to each and which lead to their group classification as a race. Furthermore, my explication of similar events from year to year in the series shows a progression of prejudice from both the characters who are generally regarded as evil and those who are the most beloved. Finally, my research concludes that the protagonists’ words and actions show that they see other magical creatures as well as muggles as belonging to inferior races and that even Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter condone segregation and discrimination so long as they do not reach the level of genocide. Ultimately, the Harry Potter books do teach a lesson in favor of equality, but it is conveyed more through their lack of antiracism than because of their representation of antiracist morals.

Awards

Project took 2nd place at VWC's annual 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Division of the Humanities.

 

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