UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Harry Potter phenomenon and its implications for literacy education Novosel, Jadranka


According to Nielsen BookScan, an independent book trade monitoring service, 2,652,656 copies of the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Rowling, 2007), were sold across the United Kingdom within the first 24 hours of sales. The book thus became the fastest selling in history, in doing so overtaking the sales record of its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling, 2005), which sold 2,009,574 copies in the UK in the first 24 hours. With yearly releases beginning in 1997, at one point Harry Potter novels occupied the top four spots on The New York Times Bestseller List, prompting the addition of a children’s bestseller list so popular literary fiction intended for adults might be represented. Considering this scenario, questions that arise for literary educators are as follows: What forces were at play behind this literary phenomenon and what are the implications for literacy and literary education? This thesis examines the success of Harry Potter as a literary and commercial phenomenon, considering in particular the literary features of the novels that might have contributed to their success, the marketing of the texts and the rise of the Harry Potter "brand," the timing of the emergence of the series alongside the rise of social media, and the implications of all of this for the future of literary reading and literary education.

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