Episode 47: Harry Potter and the Path of Positive Disintegration

Chris Wells & Emma Nicholson with Guests Katy McDaniel and Emily Strand

Release date: November 5, 2023

In episode 47, Chris and Emma talked with Katy McDaniel and Emily Strand from the Potterversity podcast. Katy is a professor of history at Marietta College, and Emily is a professor of religious studies at Mt. Carmel College of Nursing. Emma is the technical director for Potterversity, so her worlds collide in this conversation.

We kicked off the discussion by learning more about how the Potterversity pod used to be called something else. It was renamed because of the comments made by the creator of Harry Potter in 2020, which led to the whole team rethinking and realigning their values. We talked about the difficulties of loving art while grappling with problematic artists and authors.

Values in the Harry Potter series were a major part of this episode, and we discussed multiple scenes and characters through the lens of positive disintegration. We engaged in a thought-provoking conversation about the significance of difficult emotions and their contribution to personal growth and transformation. We acknowledged the societal pressure to constantly pursue happiness and challenge the notion that something must be wrong if one is not always happy. Embracing powerful and challenging emotions is essential for personal development and transformation.

The Harry Potter books do not promise a life devoid of troubles or a fairy-tale ending. Instead, it presents a narrative of alchemical transformation, where characters undergo loss and face challenges, ultimately emerging as something greater. Positive disintegration was explored in this episode as the process of breaking down and reconstructing one's values and sense of self. This transformative journey often entails experiencing difficult emotions such as guilt, shame, ambivalence, and concern for others' opinions. By breaking free from societal scripts and expectations, akin to the characters in Harry Potter, individuals can foster personal growth and authenticity.

Overall, the episode underscores the importance of embracing difficult emotions and experiences as catalysts for personal growth and transformation. It challenges the societal expectation of constant happiness and highlights the value of navigating challenging periods to achieve personal development.

Emily's bio: Emily is an author, podcaster, teacher, speaker, award-winning singer-songwriter, and musician. She holds an MA in theology from the University of Dayton and has taught religion on the college level for nearly 20 years. Emily has published two books on Catholic sacraments and several peer-reviewed chapters and essays on the religious, symbolic and spiritual themes in popular fiction such as Harry Potter and Star Wars. With Dr. Kathryn N. McDaniel of Marietta College, Emily co-hosts Potterversity, a Potter Studies Podcast, a show in the MuggleNet family of podcasts. With McDaniel and with Amy H. Sturgis, Emily is co-editor of three scholarly books for academic presses on Star WarsStar Trek and Harry Potter.

Katy's bio: Dr. Katy McDaniel is Andrew U. Thomas Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. Although her specialty is early modern British history, she teaches a wide variety of courses in world history, modern European history, feminism, history of science, and historiography, and is the editor of Virtual Dark Tourism: Ghost Roads. In addition to teaching a course on Harry Potter and the Liberal Arts, she has published several articles on Harry Potter scholarship and pedagogy, hosts the MuggleNet podcast “Reading, Writing, Rowling,” and is the co-editor of Harry Potter for Nerds II.

Links from this episode

Potterversity podcast

Potterversity Episode 39: Considering Cockroach Clusters: Food in the Wizarding World – Part Two

Potterversity Episode 40: Unpacking Petunia

Emily’s website

Potterversity: Essays Exploring the World of Harry Potter (Pre-order now in stock!)

Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma