Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine at MHC

Mount Holyoke College to Host the Exhibit:
Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine
January 28 – February 26, 2010

Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine is a traveling exhibit which focuses on Harry Potter’s magical world and its connections to Renaissance thinkers, lore and practices. Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA will explore this history by looking at primary sources from the Renaissance, performing Renaissance music, lectures and book discussions.

In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals, and perfects his magical abilities. Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy.

Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power. This exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world and its roots in Renaissance magic, science, and medicine.


Mount Holyoke College Williston Library is one of only 12 libraries selected to host Harry Potter’s World by the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The National Library of Medicine partnered with the American Library Association to create a traveling version of the Harry Potter’s World exhibition. – The Williston Library is located at 50 College Street (directions).  Click HERE for hours. For more info, email harrypotter-exhibit@mtholyoke.edu.

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

More information about the exhibit, Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine, including educational resources, is available at the National Library of Medicine web site.  There you will find lessons and educational activities to supplement this exhibit, including:

  • Desire for Knowledge and Different Perspectives are guided online activities that navigate parts of Harry Potter’s World with a specific interpretive plan.
  • Boggart and Fear in Harry Potter, a language lesson plan, and Genetic Traits in Harry Potter, a science lesson plan, are two lesson plans prepared for middle- and high-school teachers. Each lesson plan contains background information and resources related to Harry Potter or academic topics, national standards, learning outcomes, step-by-step procedures, and all classroom materials.

Harry Potter: The Exhibit

Harry Potter: The Exhibition, created by Warner Brothers and Exhibit group/Giltspur is entirely separate and unrelated to this library exhibition. Harry Potter: The Exhibition is currently on display at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA until February 21, 2010.

2 Comments

  1. January 11, 2010 at 10:43 am

    “HARRY POTTER’S WORLD: RENAISSANCE SCIENCE, MAGIC, AND MEDICINE” CONFERENCE AT THE UMASS RENAISSANCE CENTER

    Amherst – The Renaissance Center’s 2010 Annual High School Teachers’ Institute will present Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine in the Classroom on Saturday, January 30. The Institute runs from 9 am to 4 pm, with a light breakfast and lunch provided. This conference, providing ideas for teachers and their classes, is being held in conjunction with Mount Holyoke College which is hosting the traveling Harry Potter’s World exhibition from the National Library of Medicine of the National Institute of Health from January 28-February 26.

    Following the morning sessions at the Renaissance Center at 650 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, participants will travel to Mount Holyoke to view the exhibit and meet with the education director of the Williston Library where it is housed. Tailored to the needs of practicing teachers, the conference is open to all interested participants. The fee for the day-long conference is $30; teachers may receive professional development points with district permission. Register by calling 413-577-3600, or write renaissance@english.umass.edu.

    Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy. Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power. This exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world and its roots in Renaissance magic, science, and medicine.

    Papers at the conference will focus on the topics covered in the exhibition: Mount Holyoke chemistry professor Donald Cotter will discuss Alchemy and the Progressive Imagination. Caveat Lector: Ambroise Pare and the Original Monster Book of Monsters will be UMass Boston professor Scott Maisano?s topic. Brian Ogilvie, UMass Amherst history of science professor, will talk on “Mandrake Roots, Vegetable Lambs, and Barnacle Trees: Strange Plants in Renaissance Herbals.” And medieval history specialist Anna Taylor, also from UMass Amherst, will discuss Monster Theory.

    The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies is a research facility of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Center supports the research, teaching, and dissemination of all aspects of literature and culture in the Early Modern Period (ca. 1400-ca. 1700). The Center welcomes all qualified scholars and students to do specialized research with our unique collection of manuscripts, rare books, and secondary monographs. The Center also provides a vibrant calendar of events during the academic year, offering graduate classes, community classes, lectures, concerts, play readings, and more to our community members. For more information about the Center, visit our web site at http://www.umass.edu/renaissance.

  2. January 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

    HARRY POTTER’S WORLD ON STAGE! CHILDREN’S THEATER VACATION WORKSHOP OFFERED BY RENAISSANCE CENTER

    The UMass Renaissance Center announces HARRY POTTER?S WORLD ON STAGE!, a week-long children’s theater workshop for 8-12 year olds during the February school vacation week, Feb 15-19. Meeting daily from 9 am to 1 pm at Mount Holyoke College’s Williston Memorial Library, participants will draw inspiration from the Harry Potter’s World exhibition and its themes to create their own play which will be performed to their friends, family and the general public at noon on the last day of class.

    The class will be under the direction of veteran actor Steve Henderson ? best known as Jerry Atric for his one-man shows at the Majestic Theater in Springfield. In addition to being a popular stand-up comic, Steve is an actor, director and theater educator, and is Education Director for Hampshire Shakespeare Company.

    Enrollment for HARRY POTTER’S WORLD ON STAGE is limited to 12; the fee for the program is $120. Pre-registration and a non-refundable deposit of $20 is required by Feb. 5. For further information and registration, e-mail renaissance@english.umass.edu, or call 413-577-3600.


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