Q&A: Harry Potter teacher Donna Parsons

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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Instructor of the University of Iowa Honors course "Harry Potter and the Quest for Enlightenment."

Daily Iowan: What do you think of the UI Lecture Committee's effort to bring J.K. Rowling to campus?

Donna Parsons: The Lecture Committee reached out to the Honors Program and me about getting involved in the letter writing campaign. It is a wonderful idea to invite Rowling, and I like how the Lecture Committee is giving the entire Iowa City community the opportunity to take an active role in the invitation process. 

Presenting Rowling with a huge box of letters that show appreciation for her work and the influence the Harry Potter series has had on people's lives highlights the University of Iowa and Iowa City's support of creative work.

DI: Why have readers responded so positively to Rowling's work?

Parsons: Just as the Beatles provided the soundtrack of people's lives during the 1960s, the Harry Potter series is the narrative of the millennials. Rowling interweaves literary, historical, and political references within a narrative rich with characters, landscapes, and thematic elements.

DI: If you were trying to persuade Rowling to visit, how would you "sell" her on Iowa City?

Parsons: The University of Iowa … is a place where creative ideas are formulated, honed, and even celebrated.  Having the opportunity to hear J.K. Rowling speak allows students to share a unique moment with the writer who helped them realize that their goals and dreams can be accomplished. 

DI: What would you ask Rowling, if you had the chance?

Parsons: I would ask Rowling what she learned about writing from her reading of Jane Austen's novels. 

DI: If you could invite a speaker to campus, who would it be?

Parsons: I want to invite Anthony De Curtis, Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone to campus. Last spring he gave a mesmerizing talk at a Beatles symposium in Philadelphia about his experiences interviewing Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Yoko Ono.  He has interviewed everyone who is anyone in popular music and is one of the leading music critics of our day.

—By Emma McClatchey

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