This may sound like a fib engineered to make Piers Morgan explode, but students can now study the magical world of Harry Potter as part of their degree.
And – bear with me on this one – it sounds like this could well be a positive addition to their legal education; bringing fresh perspectives to how they discuss government policies and legal ethics.
The course can be taken as an elective from December onwards by senior students of law at Kolkata’s National University of Juridical Sciences in India.
The elective – entitled An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse – has unsurprisingly reached its 40 student capacity, with plenty of requests to boost the class size.
This course – which is expected to include 45 hours of discussion-based learning – will look at how law is used within the books; drawing comparisons between the novels and real-life scenarios.
For example, India’s social and class rights will reportedly be discussed alongside the ‘enslavement of house-elves and the marginalisation of werewolves’.
As reported by BBC News, Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha – who designed the course – has described it as an ‘experiment’ to ‘encourage creative thinking’.
Professor Guha told the BBC:
In our current system, we simply tell students the black letter of law.
Will they be able to apply pre-existing laws to situations that have never come up before?
You can also see so many examples of how media is subverted by political institutions in the Potter books and see parallels in the real world.
[Harry Potter author JK] Rowling’s universe talks a lot about how legal institutions are failing in some scenarios.
Much like a real Hogwarts syllabus, this course will span a breadth of topics; allowing students to examine magical society from various academic perspectives.
Students will of course look at legal traditions and institutions, which are a running theme throughout the books. This will encompass liberty and the rule of law in the wizarding world, as well as bureaucracy in the – often corruptible – Ministry of Magic (M.o.M.).
Those who once read Harry Potter long into the night were no doubt frightened by the harsh justice dealt out in the books; with the unforgiving Azkaban prison guarded by Dementors. Students on the course will look at examples such as unforgivable curses, Wizengamot trials and Sirius Black’s innocence (spoiler alert).
Contracts and agency will be discussed in regards to unbreakable vows and Snape, as well as the order of Phoenix. Students will even get the chance to study the wizarding sport of Quidditch and sports law at Hogwarts.
Through her imaginative body of work, J.K. Rowling helped to shape the moral conscious of a generation; warning us of the decidedly non-magical evils of fascism, totalitarianism and social inequalities.
That her novels are now being analysed by future legal minds is a perfect compliment to Rowling’s compassionate political beliefs as well as her enduring storytelling abilities.
Of course, whether or not the students in question will be sorted into houses using a sorting hat still remains to be seen…
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