Alchemy in Harry Potter

full name / name of organization: 
Anne Mamary and Christine Myers/Monmouth College

Call for papers for a multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary collection of essays on alchemy in the Harry Potter novels.

In a 1998 interview with The Herald, J.K. Rowling said, "I've never wanted to be a witch, but an alchemist, now that's a different matter. To invent this wizard world, I've learned a ridiculous amount about alchemy. . . . I [had] to know in detail what magic can and cannot do in order to set the parameters and establish the stories' internal logic."

We are seeking papers for a collection of new essays on alchemy, broadly conceived, in the Harry Potter series. We welcome essays on alchemy itself and the alchemical symbolism in the novels.

And we welcome essays on the other transformations the series suggests. For one example, Rowling challenges readers to rethink how we use words like power, so by the end of the series Voldemort's brute strength looks more like a weakness and Luna's encouragement, "we're still here, we're still fighting," sounds like strength. For another, there are gendered transformations and explorations of race and class and a reevaluation of what makes one "successful." Different models of education, too, seem relevant to the "literary alchemy" broad model.

We prefer a focus mainly on the novels themselves, but from there, an article could certainly look into the films and fan phenomena.

Papers should be no more than 25 pages, including references in 12-pt. type, Times New Roman or Calibri font. Any citation style is fine at this point, although accepted chapters will need to be converted to Chicago style. Please send papers to Anne Mamary (Philosophy) and Christine Myers (History) at by July 15, 2015.

We are in active conversation with Palgrave McMillan, which has expressed interest in the proposal and looks forward to sending it out for blind peer review.