English 1102, Harry Potter and the Material Object
Professor: Courtney Hoffman
This exhibit presents books created by students in Dr. Courtney Hoffman’s first year writing class. This project brought art into the classroom by asking students to design, create, and make their own books with the topic centered on the Harry Potter world. The course, titled “Harry
Potter and the Material Object,” considered how the objects in J.K. Rowling’s series interact with the human characters, take on personalities, and influence events in subtle and intricate ways. Students considered how objects in their own lives often become part of
themselves, engaging with the materiality of the world around them and their own subject formations. From the conception of their text’s topic to the design of its contents, including“engravings”, the material process of making a book allowed students to be immersively engaged with a physical text, one that emerged as a piece of art.
Students worked closely with the Robert C Williams Paper Museum, Jerushia Graham and Virginia Howell on book construction and binding. Concurrently, students produced a digital narrative of their artistic
process, chronicling their journey from idea to material text through photographs, ultimately
submitting a video documentary. Librarian Alison Valk worked with the students on crafting their
story through imagery and the basics of video editing. The short films acted as digital artist statements
documenting the creative process, thus enriching the experience for both students and audience.
Sample Documentary Videos
This assignment asks students to design and create a book that could be a holding in a witch or wizard’s library –
possibly even Hogwarts’s library.