Why?!?! - An Author's note

For a final project in Fantasy Fiction (check out sf@sf- its a great resource for everything fantasy and sci-fi) I decided to do a timeline. But I couldn't do any ordinary timeline, right? I mean, that would be entirely too easy.

So for your pleasure, and my pain, this is a timeline showing the progression of magical education since A Wizard of Earthsea was published in 1968-- to see if apprenticeships have died in the wake of the magic school phenomenon... or if they're coming back. Or even more interesting, if they never left in the first place.

And even though this is for a class, I plan on working on it for.. well, forever. So any and all feedback is welcome, and appreciated.

Enjoy the journey through time, my weary travelers. Because here... we... go!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Research Concerning Magic in the Literary World

This post provides research to be discussed in further posts, but it seemed appropriate to slap them all here. It's going to serve as my jumping off point. All of the books I use in the blog connect not only to each other through magical education, but they also comment on the ideologies concerning education in our real/nonmagical world, which I will address for  each of the novels. How do these trends in the way magical education is presented affect how we think about our own education systems? What are the benefits? The consequences? How do our own ideas change how we view magical education? 

Below, I have a whole slew of quotes that I will be referring to throughout the blog, to support and explain the passages and ideas that I pull from each book.

"if children meddle with knowledge beyond their years, they may regret it"- Pat Pinsent (paragraph 1, Apprenticeship in Magic)

This idea is consistent throughout Fantasy Fiction, in Harry Potter, The Wizard of Earthsea, The Magicians, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Eragon (The Inheritance Trilogy), Wise Child, and more. Pinsent argues that Rowling was well versed in the convention of magical boarding schools and its different forms, but that it doesn't detract from her text-- it adds to it, enhances it, and comes from a long line of magical literature (paragraph 2). 

This post will provide research to be discussed in further posts, but it seemed appropriate to slap them all here. It's going to serve as my jumping off point. 

"While several fairly recent books have depicted magic education taking place in a school, an earlier tradition is that of the apprentice in magic who worked with an accomplished master in what we might today describe as an individual tutorial situation" - Pat Pinsent (paragraph 1, Apprenticeship in Magic)
"Texts concerned with education in magic by means of a pupil's apprenticeship to a competent magician inevitably reflect the conscious or implicit ideology of the writer." - Pat Pinsent (paragraph 5, Apprenticeship in Magic)

 "He also learns that 'magic consists in this, the true naming of a thing' and 'is worked only by those beings who speak ... the Old Speech.' However, there are limits to the power of a Mage; the Master Namer tells the pupils that a Mage 'can control only what is near him, what he can name exactly and wholly. And this is well. If it were not so, the wickedness of the powerful or the folly of the wise would long ago have sought to change what cannot be changed and Equilibrium would fail.'" -Pat Pinsent (paragraph 1, The Earthsea School For Wizards)

"In Rowling's books, too, the idea of transformation is handled with care, even though there is no evidence of a concern with the question of balance in the universe. Spells inevitably occur, though unlike Le Guin and Furlong, Rowling does not suggest a totally private language for them."- Pat Pinsent (paragraph 2, The Earthsea School For Wizards)
"The Worst Witch begins,

Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches stood at the top of a high mountain surrounded by a pine forest. It looked more like a prison than a school, with its gloomy grey walls and turrets. Sometimes you could see the pupils on their broomsticks flitting like bats above the playground wall, but usually the place was half hidden in mist, so that if you glanced up at the mountain you would probably not notice the building was there at all.Everything about the school was dark and shadowy: long, narrow corridors and winding staircases ...9
The initial description of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1997) has a good deal in common with this. " -Pat Pinsent (paragraph 1, Location)

"The typical schoolgirl scrapes in which Mildred gets involved are inevitably adapted to this environment; the first of these occurs early on when she responds to the taunts of her archenemy Ethel: "Mildred muttered the spell under her breath--and Ethel vanished. In her place stood a small pink and grey pig." Ethel retains her power of speech, so the authorities soon discover Mildred's prank; Mildred is ordered to learn how to turn Ethel back to human shape, but the incident does not seem to be taken too seriously by the school authorities. A less frivolous situation arises a little later when Mildred discovers a large group of hostile witches who are planning to take over the school and to turn everyone there into frogs; Mildred rushes off for her book of spells and finds how to transform the enemies into snails before they can act against the school: "I know it's against the Witches' Code ... but they don't seem to follow any rules."13 On this occasion, Mildred is honored by the whole school."- Pat Pinsent (paragraph 2, Relationships and Spells)

Harry Potter's casting of spells is generally performed either in situations that have a function in the overall plot, such as the Triwizard Tournament, or for his own self-preservation or the rescue of other characters; additionally, as part of his continual struggle against the Dursleys, he sometimes defies the strict prohibitions that magic should not be used against Muggles. The obnoxious Aunt Marge, for instance, is blown up like a balloon when she insults Harry's parents: "Aunt Marge ... was entirely round, now, like a vast life buoy with piggy eyes, and her hands and feet stuck out weirdly as she drifted up into the air, making apoplectic popping noises" (Prisoner of Azkaban, 27). Harry knows he has broken wizard law by doing this, but to his relief he is told by Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, "We don't send people to Azkaban just for blowing up their aunts!" (Prisoner of Azkaban, 39). Nevertheless the potential threat of a serious, possibly fatal, punishment for such behavior remains.- Pat Pinsent (paragraph 3, Relationships and Spells)

"At the end of the book we learn that David and Jill "would both be taking their first 'O' levels in the summer: Telepathy, Weather Control, Wax Modelling and (the trickiest of the four) Advanced Blood Sacrifice," while Latin, reminding us of its importance in Hogwarts spells (based, presumably, on the actual history of witchcraft), figures prominently on the curriculum.25 We recall both the Hogwarts curriculum (Divination, Potions, History of Magic, and the rest) and the importance attached to O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels); both authors seem to be making use of the examination, O or Ordinary Levels, which for many years marked the end of British pupils' compulsory schooling." - Pat Pinsent (paragraph 1, Curriculum) 

"By combining stock material from the genre of magic fantasy such as the enchanted castle and the casting of spells, all ultimately emanating from the fairy tale tradition, with equally stereotypical elements from the boarding school story such as the trio of friends foiling the unpleasant teacher, Rowling is making use of several varieties of intertextuality; from the list given by Stephens we might select: specific earlier texts; well-known stories existing in several versions; archetypes; genres and conventions; and occasionally other discourses.35 Equally, since her own work is clearly going to be encountered by many readers before they meet some of these earlier texts, it will serve as a pre-text to them" - Pat Pinsent (paragraph 2, Conclusion)

Work Cited: 

Pinsent, Pat. "Education of a Wizard." The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter. Ed. Lana A. Whited. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 2002. 27-50. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 217. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

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