DiaCon Alley – A Fond Farewell to Harry Potter

The following post is written by Emily Roach, a continuing Distance Learning student on our Children’s Literature MA.

I had the pleasure of attending DiaCon Alley, an unofficial Harry Potter conference held amidst the wonderful backdrop of Canterbury at the University of Kent.  I was due to speak on queering the Hogwarts canon and applying certain queer and feminist theories to fanfiction written in the Harry Potter fandom.  The programme for the weekend included a mixture of fannish and academic panels, featuring talks on what counts as canon, an analysis of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and discussions relating to death, disability and the importance of irony in the Harry Potter canon, as well as a number of fannish panels and presentations exploring popular ‘ships’ (romantic pairings) in the fandom and discussions on various aspects of fannish activity such as writing fanfiction and creating fanart.  We also heard a paper on the film music tropes in the Harry Potter movies and were treated to a number of fanfic readings by active fanfiction writers in the Harry Potter fandom.

As a student on the distance learning MA at Roehampton about to enter my dissertation year with an intended dissertation focus on Harry Potter fanfiction, this conference was right up my (DiaCon) Alley, excuse the pun. Armed with my wand (Severus Snape replica, of course) and dressed in my finest Slytherin green and silver, I arrived at the conference on Thursday evening to enjoy a pub quiz, joining a team on my late arrival rather unfortunately named ‘Not Slytherin’ and for the first time I found myself wishing I had chosen to don Hufflepuff finery.  House rivalry was fortunately not an issue, however, and I was warmly welcomed by the non-Slytherins.  We may not have been Slytherin but sadly we didn’t display many Ravenclaw qualities either, coming second to last. Despite losing out on the prizes, good fun was had by all.

Following a couple of days of programming, the Victory Ball on Saturday was a welcome opportunity for conference attendees to let their hair down and dress in their very best wizarding finery to eat, drink and be merry and celebrate the release of the final film, the end of an era and of course, the defeat of Voldemort.  My turn to speak came on Sunday morning and although I had expected to be met by sore heads and a quiet lecture theatre, I was pleasantly surprised to have a good turnout and was pleased that my paper, and first MA related presentation, appeared to be well received. When closing down my Powerpoint presentation and revealing to my embarrasment my Severus Snape wallpaper, I received a second round of applause and a lot more laughter. At least I was in front of a sympathetic audience!

So for now, it is farewell to DiaCon Alley and farewell to the Harry Potter franchise. However, with the imminent arrival of Pottermore, fans who continue to get so much pleasure out of the books and films, and a fandom with very active artists and writers and academics who remain interested in writing about different aspects of the Potterverse, I suspect this is not the last we have heard of Harry. I, for one, will be dusting off my robes for Ascendio in 2012, the planning for which is already well underway.

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About Laura Atkins

I am a children's book author and editor who has worked in the children's book field for over twenty years. My published books include picture book SLED DOG DACHSHUND (illustrated by An Phan), and the middle grade biography FRED KOREMATSU SPEAKS UP (co-written with Stan Yogi, illustrated by Yutaka Houlette). This is the first in the Fighting for Justice series - the next book about Biddy Mason to be co-written with Arisa White will come out in July 2018. I spent seven years in editorial departments in the United States where I helped to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, among others. I continued to work as a freelance editor and as a Senior Lecturer at the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature (NCRCL) at Roehampton University in London. Now based in Berkeley, California, I work with clients all over the world. I have an MA in Children's Literature from Roehampton University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. My website is www.lauraatkins.com.

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