Narratives Are Us — I have a longstanding interest in story-based amusement parks and literary playgrounds, so it was with great anticipation that I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this past weekend. One of the star attractions of Universal Orlando, this totally immersive world truly provides visitors with a sense that they have somehow magically entered the pages of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. My wife, son, and I are all great admirers of Rowling’s fantasy books as well as the movies based on the books. For us, exploring this world brought back memories of reading the books aloud as a family. I think that for many Harry Potter fans, playing in this world augments the experience of reading Rowling’s books. Visitors feel as if they are actually attending Hogwarts or shopping for wands in Diagon Alley, or riding Hogwarts Express. After we explored the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we spent an hour checking out Seuss Landing, which is devoted to the Dr. Seuss’s books. The architecture and rides in this part of the park look like three-dimensional Seuss illustrations with their bold colors, curvy lines and whimsical representations of real-world objects.
I am currently working on a book about how narrative elements are embedded in such places. I am also interested in how interacting with and in these places is like playing in stories. As I see it, my research on this topic relates to the ever-expanding field of narrative studies.
I am by no means the only person in our English Department who is pushing the boundaries of narrative studies. Balaka Basu is currently doing research on how Harry Potter fans respond in creative ways to Rowling’s narratives.
Pilar Blitvich is interested in how aggressive language comes into play in the narratives that are presented on reality television programs.
Jen Munroe is conducting research in the ways in which women from the early modern period told narratives about their lives through the writing of recipes.
Greg Wickliff is studying the ways that 19th-century scientists used photographs to help tell scientific narratives. As these few examples indicate, narrative studies has become one of pillars of our English Department.
It was 20 years ago today [plus ten] Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play — My wife and I got married exactly thirty years ago today. I remember inviting every person in the English Department to the wedding. Almost everybody showed that Saturday morning and wished us well as we set out for our honeymoon adventure in San Francisco. There are just a few people who were in the department then who are still in the department today, but many things have not changed. Nancy and I (and Gavin) still enjoy having adventures together, and we still feel that that interaction with members of the English Department is an important thread woven through our lives.
Quirky Quiz Question — One of the rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter takes visitors on a wild ride into the underground vaults beneath a bank. What is the name of this bank?
Last week’s answer: textile mill
Bookout Blooms is located in Atherton Market. Does anybody know the original purpose of this facility before it became a market?