Kathleen Bonany

Kathleen Bonany
Mentor: Dr. Anastasia Ulanowicz
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"For my first two years as an English major, I didn't realize that the research I was doing "counted" as research; I always pictured the student in the lab. When I was in a children's literature class, I was astounded to find that I was, in fact, completing real research. The work that I was doing in my children's literature class was engrossing, and I found myself completely consumed with the desire to do more, so I decided that I would further pursue my research beyond the classroom."

Major

English; Telecommunications

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Children's Literature

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program

Organizations

  • UF English Society
  • Tea Literary Magazine

Volunteer

  • United Way Reading Pals

Hobbies and Interests

  • Reading
  • Music

Research Description

Hermione and the House Elves: A Look at Slavery and the Other in The Harry Potter Series

I will be investigating the role of the Other in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The inclusion of the Other in literature is generally a device to prompt a person or culture to examine itself. Placing a figure that occupies a role of the Other in children’s literature is fascinating because it invites the child reader to examine themselves and their culture, as well as brings up questions regarding the role of the Other in society. Through Hermione’s journey of discovering the institution of slavery in such an advanced society and trying to combat it, I plan on examining the overall themes that the Harry Potter series discusses and directs towards both the child and adult audiences about politics, slavery, and human rights. The inclusion of such a difficult and complicated issue in the Harry Potter series encourages the reader to begin asking questions about the text. The inclusion of the Other in a series that has such a global reach begs answers to the questions of what function the Other serves in contemporary cultures, and how it is detrimental to those same cultures. It also provides a discussion on what values and practices are widely accepted in a class-constructed society, and challenges both the younger and older readers to question major social and ideological constructs. While it may seem irrelevant that a children’s book brings up the question of the role of the Other in society, the medium of the theme is crucial; many parents read with their children or will review books before they allow their children to read them, and thus the questions are addressed not only to the child audience, but also to the adult audience. The Harry Potter series offers a new perspective on these issues by making them current and understandable to adults and children alike.