– Unicorns are pure and innocent: Insights from a case study on nine teenagers' response to reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
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This case study is an in-depth look into nine students' responses to reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The study aimed to analyze and discuss what those responses might reveal about the book. Readers' response to the Harry Potter books have been greatly overlooked as scholars attempt to understand the series' massive success. Some have argued that the books are merely a marketing phenomenon, overlooking how the text is experienced by the readers. The data for the study was collected through participant-observation of literary conversations with a 10th grade English class and students' own reading logs. Four of these literary conversations and nine student logs were analyzed. The responses of the nine students revealed that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone concerns complex ethical, philosophical and moral issues that engaged the readers. The case illustrates how the students connected the story to their own lives, as well as to the world at large. The students exemplified the ability to understand and engage with abstract concepts. The responses of the nine students challenges critical perspectives on the characters and the book itself. This thesis proposes that the book can be used in English teaching in Norway to facilitate critical discussion and development of ethical awareness, central components of an all-round development (Bildung). The case study aims to be an addition to the understanding of the literary work but is not fit to generalize. The thesis suggests that further research on reader response to Harry Potter is needed.
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