Talk Delves into Harry Potter, Christianity

Dr. Carrie Birmingham

Dr. Carrie Birmingham

Carrie Birmingham, associate professor of teacher education at Pepperdine University, will explore symbols, patterns and allegories in the Harry Potter series that reflect the essence of the Christian story on Wednesday, March 20, at 3:30 p.m. in Hieronymus Lounge at Westmont’s Kerrwood Hall. The talk, “Harry Potter and the Baptism of the Imagination,” is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Heather Bergthold at (805) 565-6165 or hbergthold@westmont.edu.

“Just under the surface of the narrative, the heart of Christian faith — victorious resurrection through the sacrifice of love — is experienced time and time again,” Birmingham says. “For millions of readers, the Harry Potter series is a compelling introduction to Christianity.”

Birmingham, who earned her doctorate in educational psychology from UC Santa Barbara, teaches literacy theory and methods, and culture language and learning. She earned a Seaver College Fellow in Education from 2003-2005. Her research has been published in Journal of Teacher Education, Theory into Practice, American Educational Research Journal and International Journal of Teaching and Teacher Education.

Andrew Mullen, who chairs the Westmont Education and Liberal Studies Departments, says he appreciates Birmingham’s deep faith and independent, outside-the-box thinking. “So often in academic circles, everyone starts to say the same fashionable things,” he says. “Carrie has her own distinctive voice and isn’t afraid to use it.”

Mullen discovered Birmingham’s long-standing interest and expertise on Harry Potter just about the time he belatedly got excited about the series. “Carrie will be able to reach both Harry Potter nuts and those forbidden as children ever to touch the series on the library shelf,” he says.”