Females and Harry Potter: Not All That Empowering (Reverberations: Contemporary Curriculum and Pedagogy)

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0742537798
ISBN-10: 074253779X
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Editorial Reviews


This book is an interesting and thorough analysis for academic and feminist collections. (VOYA, February 2008)

This is a long-awaited volume which weaves feminist theory with the importance of the Harry Potter books. Mayes-Elma has created a new genre in which to explore both the teaching of literature and social theory. Following Rowling's females and their actions, this book has established a new way to view character roles within literature. (Shirley R. Steinberg, associate professor Series Editor and associate professor, Mcgill University Faculty of Education)

About the Author

Ruthann Mayes-Elma is a writer, researcher, and educator whose research centers on the intersections of children's literature, social justice, and media literacy. She has contributed chapters to various published and upcoming books, as well as a a book of her own: Readings in Sociocultural Studies in Education (2002). She has presented at various national and international conferences and has held the office of delegate to Ohio Education Association (OEA).

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Product Details

  • Series: Reverberations: Contemporary Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (August 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074253779X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742537798
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,927,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By DK on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
This reads like a doctoral dissertation, and not a terribly interesting one at that. Two thirds of the book is spent on a literature review of the theory and methodology used to critique the book, with only one chapter actually analyzing Harry Potter (plus the requisite dissertation conclusion chapter, "Where do we go from here?"). The author goes into way too much detail about theory and methodology to be of use or interest to anyone. For scholars interested in the theoretical perspectives, her summaries are simplistic and unoriginal, and for HP fans new to theory, they are too long-winded and tedious to maintain interest until the one chapter that actually applies the theory to HP.

And what's with the lame titles? "Not all that empowering" -"You've got to have theory" - "Method to my madness"? Too cutesy for my taste. Throughout the book, the writing style flip-flops from incredibly dull exposition in the form of literature review (perhaps intended for a "scholarly" audience?) to this patronizing cutesy tone (perhaps intended for children/Harry Potter fans? It sort of reminds me of Bellatrix Lestrange and her penchant for baby-talking to Harry and Neville). Perhaps the book is intended for both audiences, but the final product is worthy of neither one.

Plus, although this was published in 2006, the author only discusses Sorcerer's Stone. Much happens with female characters in the next five books that is worth discussing from a gender perspective, some of which refutes or at least better frames some of the female characters and their agency within the texts.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chloe on October 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a feminist who grew up loving the Harry Potter books, the idea of critiquing the series from a feminist perspective was intriguing to me, and, despite the threat of having my childhood heroes lampooned as sexist, I tried to go into the book with an open mind. The result was that I began to consider gender roles in a very different way, yet most of my opinions were in opposition to those of Mayes-Elma's. Frankly, this was a very poorly constructed book. As the previous reviewer noted, most of the book was about theory, with little application to the novels themselves.

When at last, in chapter four, Mayes-Elma finally started talking about Harry Potter, I was disgusted to see that the majority of her analysis was ridiculous or just plain false. Despite the fact that six of the seven books were published at this time, the author predominately refers to the first book. That is like only reading the first chapter in Oliver Twist and condemning it based on such little analysis. It is downright silly.

It seems as though she spent all her time researching critical theory and glanced over the Harry Potter books maybe once or twice. She'll cite a different feminist every other sentence (does she have any ideas of her own?) and yet consistently presents false information. At one point, she describes Quidditch as a male-dominated sport, in which females may score points but never win the game, as this is the role of a Seeker who "would also be a boy." Any casual reader of the series could tell you that this simply is not true. Cho Chang played as a very skilled Seeker in the third book, while Ginny Weasley took over for Harry as Seeker when he was banned -- and she won the Quidditch Cup.
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4 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Harry Potter Fan on April 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have never seen this wonderful series of books make a woman feel inferior. They are constantly showing strong women who don't rely on men to take care of them. An example of this is Ginny Weasley, you deffinintly don't want to annoy her because you'll get a bat bogie hex sent at your face. minerva mcgonagall is acomplished at transfiguration and is an anamagus which very few witches and wizards were able to accomplish in the 20th century. Another powerful woman, although she is evil, is Bellatrix, a death eater, one of voldemorts fateful servents, has amazing amounts of power and strength, you wouldn't want to be in a wizards duel with her. Hermione Granger, one of the trio a very important character, always has a very important role. She saved the day in the first book by knowing about devils snare and solving a very complicated riddle. In the second book she figures out that the bassalisk is attacking the students and using the school's plumbing to do so. In the third she helps research a case for Hagrid and slaps Draco Malfoy. In the fourth she helps harry with the triwizard tasks. In the 5th she realizes that rita skeeter is an unregestered anamagus and captures her and helps harry form the DA and puts red x's on the doors in the department of mysteries to help harry and the others move on the the battle. In the 6th she discusses the lessons harry has with dumbledore to try and figure them out and does large amounts of research on Horcruxes. It is obvious that this author hasen't read the Harry Potter books (which are written by a woman, so why would she make women inferior to men?) or couldn't understand them because the women in harry potter are smart and strong and don't depend on men.
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