At a prestigious Indian law school, the Harry Potter franchise is more than a work of fiction. Applying the legal conflicts of the story to real life situations, the National University of Judicial Sciences’ course hopes to encourage creative thinking in aspiring lawyers. The course, entitled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse,” is not the first university-level course to cover the popular book series, but it is one of the first in a law school setting. India has an enormous Harry Potter fanbase, and in fact, the only other Harry Potter law course is the brainchild of an NUJS alumni.
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NUJS Kolkata’s own professor, Shouvik Kumar Guha, designed the course to prevent student boredom in what can be a dry and repetitive law school curriculum, a program that lasts for five (sometimes very long) years. Though he considered using real political situations as the practical basis for the course, Guha realized that “it is not necessary that all my students will share my political leanings.” A fantasy world was the perfect solution, enabling political discussion without the controversy and heated emotions of real political debates.
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While none of the following are law schools, a number of American universities also have Harry Potter themed courses analyzing the societal and political implications of J.K. Rowling‘s magical universe. Appalachian State University offers a course studying the ways in which gender, race, and multiculturalism in popular fiction relate to the historical context of the real world. Lawrence University also offers a course analyzing the political implications of the series. Though other British and American universities teach Harry Potter material, most do so from a literary perspective not extending past the confines of the book.
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