Harry Potter’s mix of subgenres – Saxena

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Vandana Saxena also asserts that: “J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, as a mix of subgenres of young adult literature, becomes an ideal text to study; the heroic quest, the boarding-school fiction, fantasy, magic and adventure – the series brings together all these narratives of boyhood, portraying youthful subversion as well as cultural containment and an adolescent’s negotiations through these conflicting forces. Secondly, the charges leveled against the series – that it is formulaic, that its popularity rests on aggressive marketing strategies rather than content, and that, in guise of its engagements with difference, it foregrounds conventionality and conformity – rather than working against the series, as we shall see, make it a suitable representative text of postmodern children’s literature.” (p.7)

“To an extent,” Saxena goes on to note, “the charges ring true. Harry Potter is after all a conventional hero of a late capitalist world. He is an orphan but belongs to an ancient powerful family of wizards. His Cinderella-like transformation from rags to riches is an oft-repeated fairy tale. Surrounded by aides and by virtue of owning some unique magical objects, the White English boy overcomes all evil to save the world. As a school story, Harry’s relationship with his friends and teachers eventually reassert the boundaries of gender and race that are inherent to the culture from which the text emerges.” (p.7)

Ref: Vandana Saxena (2012) The Subversive Harry Potter: Adolescent Rebellion and Containment in the J.K. Rowling Novels. McFarland & Company: Jefferson, NC and London.

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