Imagine writing 12,000 words on Harry Potter. That’s right, you heard me, a whole dissertation on everyone’s favourite wizard.
Titled ‘Classical Mythology in Harry Potter: Fantastic Beasts and Why We Write Them’, is the fruit of Ancient History & Archaeology finalist Bethan le Masurier’s genius.
“I chose Harry Potter because I’m a massive Harry Potter nerd,” Bethan told us. “So, if I could spend my actual degree writing about it that was always going to be amazing!”
With the rest of us sat in front of our laptops desperately seeking inspiration in the library, the third year student spent her final year researching her favourite topic. She decided to research the mythical creatures found in the books and films, comparing them to other instances of the beasts in literature.
“I’m writing about classical mythology in HP,” she explained. “I’m looking at centaurs, basilisks and phoenixes and how the symbolic roles they play in Harry Potter are similar to the ones they play in classical literature.”
To do so, she’s spent over 100 hours researching JK’s creation. Truly committed to the cause, she’s re-read all of the books and says she’s not sick of them just yet.
Most people can’t wait to see the back of their dissertation reading material, but Bethan said: “I will definitely read and watch Harry Potter again but it might be some time!”
Most people opt for more traditional historical topics, from World Wars and dictatorships to political theories and despots, Bethan’s choice has sparked serious interest within the department.
How exactly did the academics react to her proposed thesis, though? “My dissertation tutor was really supportive and helped me develop it, and other lecturers have taken interest too”, Bethan added.
Bethan says her parents think the whole project is “hilarious”, and her friends say they actually want to sit down and read 12,000 words of her university work. “I’m not sure they do really!” she commented.
After nine months of thorough research scouring the library, Bethan concluded the creatures found in the Harry Potter books are similar to those found in classical mythology.
“Rowling’s creatures are heavily derived from the ones in classical mythology (probably partially because she studied classics at Exeter),” she said. “They actually play really similar allegorical roles in the narrative.”
Now the historian is a bona fide HP don, what’s her academic and expert opinion on the books and films?
“The fifth film is easily my least favourite, but he sixth book is my favourite.”
Hand the girl a first, now!