Have you ever had something in your life that you just totally geeked-out over? Music? Sports? Cooking? The possibilities are truly as diverse as each individual. For me, it was always books. Specifically, Harry Potter books.

Growing up, my family took road trips. Not just little day trips, but looonng ones all over the country. Confining five individuals in a car for very extended periods of time can be dangerous, but it wasn’t. Because I have a dad who read Harry Potter to us, special voices and all. Ever since the first book came out, I grew up alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione. When I was eight, I tried writing a story about some dragons who became students at Hogwarts. As unbelievably awful as I’m sure it was, that’s what I wanted — to be in that world.

When I studied abroad in London, it was the Harry Potter dream come true. I toured the Warner Brothers’ studios, where I got to walk through the Great Hall, climb aboard the Knight Bus, try some butterbeer, and learn how to duel with wands. I also went to Scotland, where I sat in the coffee shop that was the birthplace of Harry Potter (and Jo was there that morning right before us — so close!), took pictures with the gravestone of the original Tom Riddle, and saw the Hogwarts Express train move through the Highlands.

So, suffice it to say, I am a fan. And it turns out that DePaul has classes that are suited to those of us who get passionate and geeky about topics like this.

Introducing, the Topics in Popular Literature Class! During certain quarters a year, the English department will pick some crazy fun topics that they think students will be interested in and offer them as courses. Luckily for me, this winter quarter they decided to do two topics classes based on popular series: Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. I bet you can’t guess which one I signed up for.

Many people thought I was crazy to take a class on a series that I knew so much about. I admit to owning all the movies, having read through the books multiple times, and having an embarrassingly large Harry Potter board on Pinterest. But to all of the haters out there who take regular, boring classes, I say “There’s always more to learn.”

This class is fun, but it is not just for fun. It takes work. We cover a book a week, and although reading through the Harry Potter book is not required, the supplemental reading that corresponds to that book sure is. These outside sources are books about the Harry Potter books — where we learn more about the political, historical, and social situations that are presented in these novels. Have you ever thought about the social distinction between magical humans and all other magical creatures in the wizarding world? Did you know that the associations between Voldemort’s reign and Hitler’s are more coincidental than intentional? Have you realized that the trio of friends represent the three blood statuses in the wizarding world (Ron — pure blood, Harry — half-blood, Hermione –Muggle born) and their friendship can serve as an ideal representation of wizard relations? These questions are important, not only to the series but also to life and how we, in our muggle world, experience it.

To make the class more realistic, my professor sorted us into houses. Well, we drew the name of our house out of a pursue and just sit with our house everyday in class. Funny enough, the hat got it right. Even if some individuals didn’t get put into the houses that they really belong in (go to Pottermore to find out where you belong!), the houses are pretty true to form. I’m in Ravenclaw, and so far we are winning the House Cup. Gryffindor is outspoken, Hufflepuff is so nice and considering, and Slytherin mostly keeps to itself. The added competition between the houses has proved to be very beneficial to a realistic experience. Points are earned for quiz scores, attendance, participation, papers, and group work. We all work hard for our house. Mostly because the prize for the House Cup is being exempt from the final. I’m sure Ron would say approvingly, “bloody hell!”

Because this is a class that I am so invested in, going the extra mile doesn’t seem like work. I’m sure many of you have experienced the Harry Potter overload on social media. Whether scrolling through Facebook, Tumblr, Buzzfeed, or Pinterest, it’s pretty often that Harry Potter pops up, whether it is trivia, quizzes, interviews, or photos. And when it does, I now have an excuse to look into it — it’s for homework! The other day, I came across a Buzzfeed post that analyzed Harry’s net worth.  Someone had developed geometric equations to calculate the total amount of gold that resides in his vault in Gringotts. After reading through it and finding it interesting, I sent the link to my professor. At the beginning of the next class, she shared my finding with the class. She normally does this with videos of the series being retold by another character, spin-offs of the series that are being released (did you hear about the play? Did you hear there’s going to be another book!?), or footage of Muggle Quidditch matches at universities. It’s not really research when it’s this fun and easy, is it?

As this quarter starts coming to an end, I am sad to say that this class is as well. It’s been fun learning more about something that I thought I already knew so much about. The books and movies have even more meaning than I thought they did. But most importantly, I learned that it is important to find something you are passionate and pursue opportunities that allow you to be engaged in that. Whether it is a class for credit on Harry Potter or absolutely anything else, go do that. What are you passionate about? Share in the comments below!

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  • Maggie J. says:

    I love love LOVE that we have classes here at DePaul to talk about our geeky hobbies/interests for a grade!! For my philosophy requirement, I had the opportunity to take an “Ethics in Video Games and Cinema” class, which was a dream come true for me. I got to gush over some of my favorite games at the time; I even did an entire paper about the Ezio Trilogy from Assassin’s Creed for one of my projects, which is one of my favorite papers I have ever written. Unfortunately, I don’t have much room in my schedule to do open electives. However, if I ever get the chance to do an open elective in the future, I’m definitely going to take a video game-based class so I can rattle on about my new video game obsessions 🙂