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Harry Potter, Superhero

Is Harry Potter a superhero?

That is the question that the folks at Mugglenet, which bills itself as the world’s No. 1 Harry Potter website, posed to Washington and Lee English professor–and superhero chronicler–Chris Gavaler.

Chris is the second member of the W&L English faculty to appear on the Mugglenet Academia podcast, following in the pathbreaking footsteps of Suzanne Keen, the Thomas Broadus Professor of English and interim dean of the College at W&L. Suzanne was the first guest on the podcast when it began last April.

A visiting assistant professor of English, Chris was a natural choice to explore the superhero question. He has been studying the genre for years and teaches a Spring Term course on the early development of the superhero character and narrative form.

And the answer to the question? In Chris’ view, Harry Potter qualifies as a superhero on several counts. Among the questions to consider: Does Harry Potter have traditional qualifications of a comic book superhero? Is he a vigilante? Is he more like Bruce Wayne than Oliver Twist?

You can listen to the podcast here. And then you can read Chris’s views on the subject at his blog, “The Patron Saint of Superheroes.” Chris also has written the novels “School for Tricksters” (Southern Methodist University Press) and “Pretend I’m Not Here” (HarperCollins).

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