November 8, 2012

The magic of Harry Potter comes to U of L

By Genevieve Mills–

Sometimes even fantasy is rooted in fact. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, seven books about a magical world of wizards and witches, seems to be entirely fiction. However, many of the monsters, potions and even wizards mentioned in the books are based on real things, or things that were once believed to be real. U of L’s Kornhauser library is hosting “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine” from Oct. 26 through Nov. 29, an exhibit that displays some of the facts behind the magic.

“Although a fantasy story, the magic in the ‘Harry Potter’ books is partially based on renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology and natural philosophy,” reads the first of seven posters in the Kornhauser library. These posters show pictures of medieval philosophers and alchemists, along with drawings of some of the mythological creatures found in both ancient mythology and “Harry Potter,” complete with information on both. You don’t have to be well-acquainted with the books to enjoy the exhibit, but fans will certainly appreciate knowing some of the wizards on their chocolate frog cards were real alchemists.

This exhibit started with U of L teachers and staff dressed up as wizards in the Kornhauser library, U of L’s medical library located near the hospitals downtown, on the evening of Oct. 25. There were refreshments and games for those involved, in what librarian technician Paul Matteningly said was a fun start, although he isn’t a “Harry Potter” fan. Of the exhibit, Matteningly said they’ve had a “good reception so far.”

The “Harry Potter” events go beyond the exhibit, with a lecture on Nov. 2nd on “Harnessing Nature’s Power: Witches, Magic and Science in the Renaissance” given by U of L’ s Professor Genevieve Carlton. There will be another two lectures, titled “Is it magic? A demonstration of the ‘magic’ of chemistry” given by Professor Thomas Crawford, a U of L chemistry teacher, on Nov. 9th, noon to 1 p.m. and Nov. 10th, 11 a.m. to noon. For more information just go to

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Photo: Ryan Considine/The Louisville Cardinal

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