Nimbus 2003

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Name: Nimbus 2003
Dates: July 17–20, 2003
Location: Orlando, FL
Type: fan con/academic conference
Focus: Harry Potter
Organization: presented by HP Education Fanon, Inc., a Texas nonprofit founded, in large part, by Harry Potter for Grownups
Founding Date:
URL: Website, also info and photos, also "Nimbus 2003: A Harry Potter Symposium". Archived from the original on 2007-12-11.
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Nimbus 2003 was a fan-run Harry Potter Symposium that was held at the Swan & Dolphin hotel (a convention hotel at Disney World) in the summer of 2003. More than 600 fans and academics attended.[1]

"As grown-up fans of Harry Potter, we love the books and, having discussed them for several years online, we want to hold a real-world Symposium to meet each other, discuss the books and the fandom, fanfiction, fanart, and everything that goes with it!

Fans of the books and universe will come together to discuss, dispute and learn. To have fun. To allow fans to commune with professionals whose jobs also interact with the Harry Potter phenomenon and to gain new understandings, both of HP and of the world we live in. To shop. We're aiming for a cross between an academic symposium and a fan convention. We fervently believe that such a cross is not only possible but desirable." [2]

Minister of Magic: Gwendolyn Grace

Special Guests & Keynote Speakers: Judith Krug, Ari Rapkin, John Granger, Connie Neal, Roger Highfield, Philip Nel

Cassandra Claire was one of the many panelists ("Can Draco Malfoy Be Redeemed?"), as was Madeline Klink ("Once Upon a Time-Turner: A History of the Harry Potter Fandom").

Madeline Klink was one of the many moderators ("Slytherins, Smoke and Shadows: The Secret Life of Severus Snape"), as was Aja Romano ("Can Draco Malfoy Be Redeemed?").

Penny Linsenmayer was one of the many co-presenters ("The Geography of Harry Potter").

Part of a Series

See Harry Potter Symposiums.

Con Com/Organizers

Read their bios at: "CAST OF ORGANIZERS". Archived from the original on 2007-08-12.


Programming was a mix of academic presentations and fannish discussion, along more traditional SF-convention lines of a panel (consisting of one to several people) providing the bulk of the discussion/information with occasional audience participation.

See programing: "DAYTIME PROGRAM OFFERINGS BY TRACK". Archived from the original on 2007-08-12.

See schedule of events: "Schedule of Events". Archived from the original on 2007-08-07.

Broad topics included:

  • Legal
  • Education & Library Science
  • Academic
    • Mythology and Magical Systems
    • Gender, Identity, Race and Class
    • Moral Development-Philosophy and Religious Studies
  • Muggle Studies: Where Fandom Culture and Academia Intersect
  • Fandom Culture
  • Featured Luncheons, an evening party, etc.

Muggle Studies

  • Canon, Interpretation and the Alternate Universe: Navigating the Fandom Safely (Panel Discussion, Debra Duncan (Moderator), Peg Kerr, Barbara Purdom and Steve Vander Ark) - What is the Harry Potter canon? Whether you're an armchair Auror, a writer of fan fiction, or critically analyzing the books, you must confront this question. The panelists will discuss these questions and more, including: Should the U.S. editions, the schoolbooks, interviews or the movies qualify as canon? What makes a particular interpretation worthy of serious consideration? Can fan fiction be analyzed as an interpretation of canon? Why are some fans concerned that reading fanfiction *taints* the canon?
  • What Makes a Professor Behave Like Snape?: Literature, Marketing and the Critical Backlash Against Harry Potter (Dr. Philip Nel) - This presentation will take up the question of why so many who specialize in children's literature have found fault with the series, and will in particular answer Jack Zipes' question, "How is it possible to evaluate a work of literature like a Harry Potter novel when it is so dependent on the market conditions of the culture industry?" The answer, this paper proposes, lies at the intersection of three competing discourses: the law, capitalism, and aesthetics.
  • Scriptwriting for Pleasure and Profit: The Power of the Written Word in Harry Potter (Bonnie May) - The protagonist of Don Quixote is a man who, after reading dozens of chivalric novels, decides to take on a new identity based on the conventions of these novels. In Madame Bovary, the protagonist imagines that her life is, or ought to be, patterned after the novels she reads. Many classic novels have used this same technique—the characters in a book mimic the roles that they read in books or see in the theater. The world of Harry Potter is replete with books as well, yet none of them are novels. None of the characters, least of all Harry himself, attempts to assume a role from a story written by someone outside the Potterverse. However, the characters nevertheless find themselves manipulated into taking on roles written by other characters in the Potterverse. From the Hogwarts acceptance letter to the scrap of parchment from the Goblet of Fire, Harry and Potterverse populace are continually handed fragments of a "script" that their fellow characters have devised for them.
  • Publishing on Potter: Dodging the Bludgers (Dr. Katherine Grimes (Moderator); Dr. Giselle Anatol, John Granger, Dr. Edmund Kern, Connie Neal, Dr. Philip Nel, Dr. Lana Whited) - Five years into the Harry Potter phenomenon, it is abundantly clear that, for writers assembling books about J. K. Rowling’s work, the path to publication is both as unusual and as potentially dangerous as Dorothy’s journey to Oz. In an e-mail to Lana Whited in March 2002, a representative of the Christopher Little Agency wrote, “For your information, we do not approve companion books based on the [Harry Potter] series.” It is unlikely that authors of any other secondary sources have experienced such unusual interaction with the copyright holders of the primary material. Nevertheless, authors and editors have persisted in analyzing J. K. Rowling’s work in books of several kinds, including reader’s or teacher’s guides, volumes of critical essays, biographies of Rowling, and discussions of morality and theology in the series. Nearly all these books bear on their covers a stamp declaring them “Not approved or authorized by J. K. Rowling or Warner Brothers.” Authors or editors will discuss their own experiences publishing on Potter, with particular attention to any “bludgers” they had to dodge due to the resistance of Rowling’s official representatives. The focus of the discussion will be on two questions: To what extent can the copyright holders of literary works control published discussion of those works? What is the effect of such attempts to control the published discussion of Harry Potter?


  • Will Cease and Desist Cease to Exist? The Effects of Eldred v. Ashcroft on Harry Potter Fansites (Sarah Kelman)
  • Tanya Grotter: A Harry-Potter Knock-off or Parody? (Mark Hooker)
  • Justice in the Wizarding World (Susan Hall) - Although the magical society depicted in the Harry Potter novels has certain elements and institutions that have close parallels in contemporary UK society (for example, the Ministry, the school examinations system, the press), the justice system (if it can be called that at all) applicable to wizards does not in any real sense parallel its Muggle equivalent. So notable are the divergences between the justice system in the wizard world and that which applies in contemporary England that it can only be seen as a deliberate theme. Through the characters of Ron, Harry and Hermione, the relevant differences are highlighted, and the nature of justice explored. The paper will draw specific attention to the treatment of justice, crime and punishment in the world of Harry Potter and contrast it to the contemporary English equivalents (with consideration of European law to the extent relevant). It will go on to consider the societal pressures which could have created such a divergence. In particular, the existence of a system of bastard client/patronage networks in the Wizard World (loosely corresponding to the model from the later Roman Republic) is in itself inimical to the development of a legal system based on the principles of equality before the law. Furthermore, the successive states of emergency through which the wizard world seems to have passed during the course of the second half of the twentieth century, and the historic and ongoing need for secrecy as to the world's very existence, are likely both to have strengthened the client/patron system and, independently, contributed to the repressive, partial and arbitrary regime which passes for a justice system for witches and wizards.
  • Censorship, Book Banning and the First Amendment (Panel Discussion, Judith Krug, Dr. Eliza Dresang and Amy Tenbrink) - Ever since the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, people have tried to have the Harry Potter books banned, usually from educational institutions such as schools and libraries. The increase in the books' popularity has only heightened this controversy. As more and more children read the books through their school or library, more and more groups—most notably some conservative Christians in the United States and some religious groups in other countries who object to J.K. Rowling's discussion of witchcraft and wizardry—seek to have the books banned, claiming the subject matter is inappropriate. This panel will discuss the legal issues surrounding book banning, with particular reference to Harry Potter, including the recent District Court case striking a school's restriction on its students' access to the Harry Potter series.
  • Prisoner of Azkaban: A Case Against the Death Penalty (Dr. Joy Morgenstern) - In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, in an action atypical for the standard hero of myth, does not kill Sirius Black, his supposed enemy, to avenge the death of his loved ones when provided with an opportunity to do so. In addition, he later refuses the allow Black and Remus Lupin to kill his true enemy, Peter Pettigrew. Nevertheless, his actions are presented as heroic, and Harry is portrayed as moral because he will not let Lupin and Black become killers. This paper interprets the plot of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a political argument against the death penalty, and examines the ways in which J.K. Rowling uses Harry's feelings and decisions (and, to a lesser extent, Lupin's and Black's) as metaphors for the various political arguments surrounding the death penalty debate.
  • Parseltongue for Non-Native Speakers: A Legal Tutorial for Fanfic Writers, Fan Artists and Website Hosters (Amy Tenbrink, Rebecca Tushnet, Heidi Tandy, and Meredith McCardle, by Huffle, Puff & Blather, Attorneys at Law) - It has recently come to our attention that the denizens of the Harry Potter fandom hold little more than a rudimentary grasp of the language of Parseltongue. It is our humble opinion that a smattering of Parseltongue never hurt anyone, and that a modicum of familiarity with this unique patois can only aid all members of the fandom in their daily endeavors. In an attempt to remedy this situation, we respectfully offer our assistance. We hereby and herewith announce our presentation on deciphering the proud, yet mysterious, language of Parseltongue. Our presentation shall be addressed to two decidedly distinct segments of fandom members – first, those fan fiction writers and fan artists who, in the course of their unique creative process, may find themselves in need of assistance with Parseltongue, and second, the web site hosters, who face their own singular set of challenges. We legal scholars, fluent in the United States dialect of Parseltongue, are duly interested in imparting pertinent knowledge to non-native speakers through beneficial discussion. On behalf of interested fan fiction writers and fan artists, we will address the following poisonous topics, to wit: Copyrights; Trademarks; the First Amendment (including, ahem, obscenity); Rights of Privacy and Publicity; Defamation; and Plagiarism and Ethics. We will also impart a small lesson in Expecto Patronum (that is, in those not-too-rare occasions when a fandom member is confronted by a Dementor cloaked as a cease and desist letter). Web site hosters will be instructed in the areas detailed above, but they will also be introduced to their own set of venomous themes: Patents and Trade Secrets; Incorporation and Limited Liability; Charitable Organizations; Solicitation; and the most odious of all – Taxes! We again stress that this tutorial will impart beginning Parseltongue for non-native speakers. Those fandom members already fluent in the language could possibly find much of this subject matter, well, shall we say, a bit. . .dull. If we have piqued your curiosity and invited your notice, we, the authorized, qualified, certified representatives of the most notable firm of Huffle, Puff & Blather, kindly thank you in advance for your valued interest and attention.

Education and Library Science

  • Perceptions of Childhood and Adult-Child Relations in Harry Potter (Liz O’Reilly) - This paper will concentrate on the nineteenth-century polarisation of children as either 'Angels' or 'Devils', and how these ideas can be related to the Harry Potter novels. In particular, it will explore the attitudes of adult characters towards the children in their care. The Dursleys view Harry as a 'devil' and their own child, Dudley, as an 'angel'. Their attitude towards Harry embodies the view of a child as something evil - their treatment of him can be seen to stem from fear. This fear centres on his magical powers - therefore, could the magical world be seen, in some ways, to represent childhood itself, with its potential to expose adult fallibility and threaten the social order? However, if the Dursleys fear childhood itself, why do they not view Dudley as evil? Dudley is the idolised 'angel' child - yet this can also be seen as a (more subtle) form of repression and control. Therefore, the sentimentalisation of Dudley may stem from the same fear of disruption which causes the Dursleys' harsh treatment of Harry. The Weasleys, in contrast, can be seen to provide a middle-ground between the two extremes, viewing their children as a 'normal' combination of good and bad. These children are neither sentimentalised nor treated harshly, and consequently are able to develop in their own individual ways.
  • Harry Potter: Are They Children's Books? (Carlisle Elizabeth Kraft, Evelyn Browne, Mai Pucik)
  • The Geography of Harry Potter (Penny Linsenmayer, Steve Vander Ark)
  • Pottermania Brag and Swap Meet (Mary Shearer)
  • Online Writing Workshops: Fanfiction as a Springboard into Improving Technique & Original Creative Writing (Catherine Schaff-Stump)
  • Ophelia's Quill Pen: How Writing Fanfiction Empowers Women and Girls (Catherine Danielson)
  • Harry Potter Library Events Workshop (Nancy Carstensen) - Want to put on a successful Harry Potter event at your library or business? Find out how to choose special guests, find local talent, and cultivate media connections and sponsors? From small parties to multi-day extravaganzas, Children’s Librarian Nancy Carstensen shows you the key elements to a winning program. Lots of handouts, ideas and a special ‘make & take’ craft!
  • Examining Writing Style: Learning from J.K. Rowling’s Writing Style (Kimberly Lowe) - This presentation will examine writing style using JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels as a benchmark. Writing well is more than just piecing together grammatically correct sentences; well written prose reflects the choices a writer makes with respect to point of view, characterization, tone and even sentence structure. This presentation will include: (1) a discussion of the various aspects of writing style, including tone, pacing, plot, structure, language usage, point of view, narrative voice, characterization, style and intentional departures from the rules of grammar for stylistic impact; (2) a discussion of how JK Rowling utilizes these fundamental tools of writing in her body of work; and (3) a critical review of selected fan fiction to illustrate how the elements of writing style have been or can be better used by writers of fan fiction.
  • Education at Hogwarts: A Closer Look (Peter Gow) - In many ways the novels in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series reflect the conventions of schoolboy (and –girl) novels dating back to the Victorian era, but the setting, Hogwarts School, is also a highly specialized institution serving a distinct community with unusual and particular needs. For educators, the essential questions about Hogwarts revolve around the nature of the educational program as it is designed to educate children for all conditions of life in the wizarding world. This study will address the nature and efficacy of that program. In other words, what makes Hogwarts, as Rubeus Hagrid asserts, “the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world,” and what makes Albus Dumbledore “the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had”? Based loosely on evaluative methodologies drawn from independent secondary school accreditation guidelines from both the United Kingdom and the United States, this inquiry will focus on three aspects of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: School Culture, Curriculum and Instruction, and Administration and Governance. A fourth category, “Unanswered Questions,” will include questions and concerns relating to the education of young witches and wizards in general, looking at issues not specifically addressed in the Rowling oeuvre. The exploration of these questions and issues will illuminate not only the special circumstances of education in the wizarding world but may also offer some clues as to the nature of life and work in that world. An understanding of the program at Hogwarts may even provide a framework for speculating on the future of Harry Potter himself and the ways in which his Hogwarts experiences—and those of his teachers and peers—may shape the future of the extraordinary world of Rowling’s creation.

Mythology and Magical Systems

  • Harry Potter: A Universal Hero? (Michele Fry)
  • Lord Voldemort’s Gift for Spreading Discord and Enmity: The Rise of Evil in Harry Potter (Dr. Richard Burke) - The Harry Potter books confront the hero with a potent and relentless evil force: Lord Voldemort. But part of the dramatic power of these novels comes from the presence of various other evils in addition to Voldemort. Read in order, the books grow increasingly compelling as the evil within them spreads and deepens. While the presentation of evil is only part of these books' great appeal, it is essential to their power to affect the readers as powerfully as they do. Besides the elemental evil of Voldemort, the books contain the mundane evils of the Dursleys, Malfoy, and Snape, whose worst behaviors result from the contemptuous willingness to make others suffer, which is at the core of evil. The selfishness of the Dursleys, the prejudice of Malfoy, and the spitefulness of Snape all hurt Harry, create challenges he must cope with, and help to shape his character. Voldemort's murderous evil also has these effects, and it creates suspense and drama; more importantly, it helps to define the extent of evil in the world in which Harry, Dumbledore, Hogwarts, and all the rest exist. Rowling uses athletics in all four books as a revealing parallel to Harry's confrontation with evil. The Quidditch matches that are so prominent in the first three novels provide a safe sort of surrogate for the battle with evil: one's favored team struggles to vanquish an enemy in controlled circumstances where little besides emotion is at stake. But in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Voldemort's evil is spreading, Quidditch is replaced by the Tri-Wizard Tournament, which Voldemort manipulates into a truly deadly competition. The power and extent of evil increase over the course of the four books, adding to their suspense and to the complexity of their visions. At the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the forces of good are embattled as never before.
  • Platform 9 ¾ and Sundry Barriers: Ontological Displacements in the Harry Potter Series (Sidharth Jaggi, proxy presenter for Dr. Sudha Shastri) - This paper looks at the operation of boundaries in the 'Harry Potter' series; the ways in which these limits are transgressed; and to what effects they unsettle ontological margins. This presentation will primarily describe the various means and tools that Rowling deploys to distort ontological stability. Examples, ranging across the first four books of the series - and if possible also the fifth - include (among others) the moving photographs and portraits that amaze Harry in Book One, his journey back to the past with Hermione in Book Three, and his entry into the memory of Dumbledore through the Pensieve in Book Four. This motif is conveyed as a process of overcoming (rather than violating) barriers in the pursuit of knowledge and experience, and is anticipated right at the entry-point to the world of magic, when Harry is required to walk through a wall in order to reach the platform from where he will take the Hogwarts Express. This paper will also raise questions regarding the effect of such boundary-crossings, and if and how they contribute to the definition of magic in the Harry Potter books.
  • Within the Pantheon: Harry Potter and the Epic Question (Dr. Mary Pharr) - The question of Harry Potter's place in the literary pantheon is a query not easily answered. Defined by many critics as a Bildingsroman, Rowling's schooldays series may actually be extending itself into something larger—but only if it can prove its seriousness, its ability to make its readers meditate on the universe beyond its narrative. If it does so prove itself, the Potter books may end as not just a child's version of old mythology but as a postmodern version of epic heroism, its title character a fitting figure for our time and culture.
  • The Great Tradition and Harry Potter (Paige Byam)
  • The Heroic Journey and Harry Potter (Antoinette Winstead)
  • The Danger of Dynamics: Transport in the Harry Potter Series (Steven J. Gores, Northern Kentucky University)
  • The Historical Occult in the World of Harry Potter (Kiri Morgan)
  • Technology Meets Magic (Diana Patterson, Mount Royal College)
  • Narratorial Control: Harry Potter Joins the Three Investigators (Dr. Ernelle Fife)
  • Harry Potter and Popular Culture: From the Italian Renaissance to Star Wars (Dr. James Inman, Kathleen Robinson and E. Stone Shiflet) - In this panel, three presenters will explore the intersections of Harry Potter, both in books and films, and popular culture texts as old as the Italian Renaissance and as contemporary as the Star Wars film series. The presenters will focus on discourse and imagery in Harry Potter adventures, emphasizing the way connections can be forged that help scholars understand more about the scholarly capital of J.K. Rowling's works. After detailed presentations, each featuring handouts and resources for attendees, the presenters will invite attendees to join them in an interactive discussion about other popular culture influences.
  • The Pain and the Pleasure of the Scar: Harry Potter as a Popular Culture Icon (Anne Frances N. Sangil) - Harry Potter as a cultural text is a site of struggle. One the one hand there is the ever ubiquitous dominance and power of a capitalistic bloc determined to continually lure the consumers into consuming everything and anything HP-related: books, films, soundtracks, PlayStation games, calendars, even apparel in the form of round spectacles held together by Scotch tape. This is the political economy of Harry Potter. The commodities are produced and distributed by a profit-motivated industry that follows only its own economic interests. But on the other hand, there is also Harry Potter within the realm of popular culture. Amidst the seeming ‘pain’ imposed by the capitalists to the consumers in the former’s relentless campaign towards an enormous return of investment, the latter, from being a commodified, homogenized entity now becomes a producer, a producer of meanings and pleasures. These consumers turned producers create the Icon that is Harry Potter.
  • Harry Potter versus Other Fantasy Tales (Dr. Andrew Seeger) - With the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter novels and films, there have been a number of new books aimed at the same core audience. Some of these are by well-established children's authors, some by new writers, and some by authors best known for adult-oriented fare who are now taking their shot at a new market. Furthermore, there have been changes in the market and reception of such works, with fancier (and more expensive) versions of books being published and with changes made to the established bestseller lists. This presentation will examine these phenomena and some of the recent books that have appeared in the wake of J. K. Rowling's novels, including Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series, Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" books, Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord, Michael Chabon's Summerland, as well as books by Clive Barker, Alice Hoffmann, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and others—not only as novels, but also the editions that have come out and how they have been marketed.
  • The Hero’s Progress: Harry Potter’s Discovery of Identity in J.K. Rowling’s Hierarchical World (Dr. Alice Trupe) - At first glance, Harry Potter seems to be a likable, average boy whose pleasant exterior conceals some traditional English qualities and values that raise him to the status of hero in the face of extraordinary challenges: courage, resourcefulness, honor, fairness. He epitomizes the good, opposed to the evil epitomized in Voldemort, in a classic epic conflict between good and evil. Yet closer examination of the conditions that shape Harry's choices and actions reveal that he, like other characters, is severely constrained by a history of which he is largely ignorant, replete with class prejudices, racism, and economic disparity and exploitation. The hierarchical world of Hogwarts reproduces the values of the hierarchical magical realm in which it exists. Ultimately, the conflict at the heart of the series may be read as a class conflict between a dominant privileged wizarding class and all other races and classes.
  • The Heroic Quest: Harry Potter and Myth (Dr. Jeff Morgan) - Levi-Strauss claims that meaning in myth, as in language, depends on the combination of the elements, or the points of similarity we may find. An analysis of plot structure and characterization in heroic quests from Greek myth to Arthurian legend and extending into more modern myth such as Tolkien's The Hobbit will reveal a similarity in the combinations of elements which comprise the plots and characterizations of these stories. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has certain similarities with other heroic quests in mythology, allowing her first novel to take the stand with them in the arena of mythology and the heroic quest.

Gender, Identity, Race, Class

  • Emeric Switch on Gender: Harry and Hermione's Transgendered Heroism (Emily Katherine Anderson)
  • Greenhouses are for Girls, Beasts are for Boys?: Gender Characterization in Harry Potter (Sarah Goff, Baruch College (CUNY))
  • Celluloid Polyjuice: The Filmic Transfiguration of Harry Potter into Infallible Hero (Suzanne Scott)
  • Imperial Harry: Race, J.K. Rowling, and the Postcolonial Context (Ebony Thomas)
  • "But That's the Title on the Manifesto!" Labor and Class Concerns in Harry Potter (Wendy Stengel)
  • When Harry Met Jane: The Legacy of Austen in Rowling's Harry Potter (Karin Westman)
  • Strangers in a Strange Land: How the Muggleborn are a Powerful Force for Social Change (Sarah Goff, proxy presenter for Sarah Marie Parker-Allen) - There is a continual flow of new members to the magical community, who have not been indoctrinated into its social patterns and who have not been raised with its basic assumptions: the Muggle-born. These people can, and do, provide a powerful force for social change within the community, along with those who recognize their value and support them (the Muggle-aware). The evidence of Muggle influence abounds throughout the community. Without the influence of the Muggle-born, the magical world would be in jeopardy of becoming isolated, stagnant. Persons of Muggle heritage provide more than just additional DNA for the biological preservation of the community – they are the continual wind of change, charting the direction of the community's future.
  • S.P.E.W./spew or Hermione Spews a Badge (Bharati Kasibhatla) - This paper explores opposition to Hermione’s subversive campaign for elf welfare. The title of the paper points to the translation of S.P.E.W. into spew, indicating the venom and verbiage that Hermione is supposedly spewing in her ‘obsessive’ reaction to the enslavement of elves in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The resistance to Hermione’s S. P. E. W. takes many forms, ranging from the insistence that the elves like being enslaved to the belief that elves are not really enslaved at Hogwarts. I argue that the hostility to S. P. E. W. is an expression of the anxiety that Hermione is challenging Dumbledore’s established system at Hogwarts, which the text projects as democratic in contrast to Voldemort’s dictatorial politics. Hermione’s radical potential lies in her challenge to Dumbledore, and concomitantly to Harry’s heroic narrative, which draws sustenance from Dumbledore’s wisdom.
  • Sexuality, Protest, Elves and White Womanhood: Hermione and S.P.E.W. (Laurie Barth Walczak) - In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione Granger forms S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, to fight for the equal rights of house elves, who are in essence the slaves of the magical world. Hermione takes up the house elves' cause with tenacity and verve, but she does not play the role of the abolitionist for long. As her friendship with Viktor Krum develops, Hermione loses interest in the plight of the house elves. Hermione's relationships to the elves change as she commences her passage into white womanhood; her protest is forgotten when she becomes preoccupied with her new friend. This paper will explore—and deconstruct—the intersections of slavery, whiteness, and femininity in the Harry Potter series, paying particular attention to Hermione and her identity as a muggle-born witch, a civil rights leader, and a young woman with several admirers.
  • It's Not Easy Being Hermione: Harry Potter and the Paradox of Girl Power (Meghan Mercier) - In the days leading up to the release of the film of Sorcerer's Stone, I saw a TV interview with Emma Watson, in which she seemed excessively anxious to differentiate herself from Hermione Granger. I thought, "hey, don't bite the hand that feeds you!" but after that I began to pay attention to the treatment of Hermione (and Watson) in the movie and the press. I discovered a disturbing trend... so if Hermione is one of your favorite things about the Potter books, hear me out: she is much diminished in the transition to the screen.
  • Hermione Granger and Issues of Gender in the Harry Potter Books and Films (Dr. Eliza Dresang) - Hermione, by name, has a long literary legacy and historical heritage. In 428 B.C.E., Euripides captured her from Greek mythology and placed her in the drama Andromache. St. Hermione from the Christian Bible was martyred at Ephesus. In a more contemporary setting, a slightly familiar-seeming Hermione appears in the poet and novelist, H.D.'s Hermione and in D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, described by one essayist as "wanting to know everything 'intellectually' and control everything." Drawing upon her literary antecedents as appropriate to lend understanding, Hermione Granger, heroine in the Harry Potter books, is analyzed from the point of view of postmodern feminist literary theory. To what extent does J.K. Rowling let her character fall prey to perpetuating stereotypes, some of which stretch across thousands of years, and to what extent does she allow Hermione to invent her own independent image as she grows and matures? What will be the heritage of gender that Hermione passes on to readers now and in the future? Is she a pawn for the male characters or a principal actor on her own? How does the character of Hermione fare when she moves from the printed page to the screen? Although the answer cannot be complete after only five of seven books and two of possibly seven films have appeared, a considered study of Hermione's developing inner strength, social conscience, and problem-solving abilities meshed with her initial external "squealing" and her perceived "bossy" nature may provide perspective about what lies ahead. Some evidence from J.K. Rowling’s stated perception of the character she refers to as herself will provide background for this in-depth analysis of Hermione Granger.

Moral Development - Philosophy and Religious Studies

  • Alchemy, Doppelgangers and the Irony of Religious Objections to Harry Potter (John Granger)
  • Talking about Harry: The Fairy Tale and Building Moral Character (Gina Burkart)
  • Panel: Harry Potter: Witchcraft? Pagan Perspectives (Lee Hillman, Co-moderator, John Walton, Co-moderator, Amy Vezza)
  • Harry Potter: Can Any Wisdom Come from Wizardry? (Dr. David Isaacs (Moderator); Emily Bytheway, Dr. Anita Helmbold, Dr. Helen Huntley, Dr. Dawnellen Jacobs) - Our panel will examine the literary merits of Rowling’s books, using standard methods of analysis to show that these works may be read and enjoyed by readers of various ages even if there are certain concerns over such elements as the use of violence, profanity, and alleged occult practices. We will open with a general overview of the controversy, then discuss the values of fantasy literature, even for those with strong religious convictions. We will then show how the Potter books address the same areas as all of literature, and may even enhance some aspects of reading for young readers. More specifically, Prof. David Isaacs of California Baptist University (CBU) will present an overview of the Harry Potter controversy, giving the main arguments against Harry Potter, to provide a foundation for discussion. Opening statements will include such sources as Abanes, Gene Veith and Charles Colson, all respected conservatives. It is expected that this introduction will move beyond the surface issues and raise some of the deeper aspects of the controversy. Emily Bytheway of Brigham Young University will build on this and respond to some of the critics’ claims that Harry Potter is anti-religious and full of witchcraft. Professor Anita Helmbold of Taylor University College will demonstrate that the books’ endorsement of an ethic rooted in concern for the well-being of others more accurately reflects Christian ethical principles than does the strictly rule-based morality which some critics have castigated the series for failing to propagate. This ethical stance, combined with the books’ celebration of personal risk-taking in preference to a narrowly conceived self-protectiveness, offers children a much-needed moral perspective found in few other places in contemporary popular culture. Professor DawnEllen Jacobs, also of CBU, will compare critiques of Rowling with those of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Those who object to Rowling, she will demonstrate, forget there was a similar reaction to Lewis; ironically, Lewis’s works are most often held up as examples of great literature, worthy of inclusion in any canon of Children’s Literature. This should give critics pause and urge them to examine the texts more fully and in a broader context before condemning them. Helen Huntley of CBU will conclude that children are much wiser than adults perceive. With the written word, children’s imagination goes only as far as the child can accept; in visuals, however, the presentation may go beyond the child’s limits. Reading, therefore, is the perfect way for a child to understand he/she has the same ghosts in the imagination as others; reading is the perfect way to guide a child into decision making, both critical and creative. As Lewis Mumford wrote, in sadness, of his son: “When we took away the folk and fairy tales, we took away St. George, but we left the dragon!”
  • The Seven Deadly Sins/Seven Heavenly Virtues: Moral Development in Harry Potter (Peg Kerr) - This presentation grows out of a series of essays prepared for the HPforGrownups Yahoogroup, tracing the 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Heavenly virtues in Rowling's work. Critics of the Harry Potter series fault Harry for lying and disobeying authority, but in fact, Harry's story is about the acquisition of a moral education, specifically in learning how to handle an alternate technology (i.e., power (magic)) responsibly. Topics touched upon may include the role of the Dursleys in the series, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Dumbledore's educational approach, and the moral ramifications for Harry and other characters of the tragic events of the Halloween night when Harry's parents died. Audience participation encouraged.
  • Jewish Perspectives on Harry Potter (Amy Miller) - What's a nice Jewish boy like Harry Potter doing in a place like this? Believe it or not, there are many Jewish teachings in the Harry Potter books, many of them cited by Dumbledore (although I'm sure he's unaware of how Jewish he is, too). There are parallels to Hitler, genocide, and racism as well. We will cite Torah and other biblical passages that address magic, discuss the occult in Judaism, how JKR could have been a member of the Workman’s Circle (a Jewish society devoted to socialist and workers’ ideals), and how Harry might even be a “lamed-vovnik”!
  • The Gospel According to Harry Potter, & Other Good News for Harry Potter Fans (Connie Neal) - While some insist the Harry Potter books are filled with witchcraft, Connie Neal shares how she looked at the same stories and found the Christian gospel. Using quotes from C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling on what people find in fantasy writing (some of which the author never intended), Neal takes a lighthearted look at the joy of sharing personal insights on beloved stories and how to handle people who insist Harry is "of the devil" in a friendly way.

Fandom Culture

  • Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs: Marauder’s Panel, Lee Hillman (Moderator); Jessica Daggett (Remus Lupin); Carole Estes (Sirius Black); Carlisle Elizabeth Kraft (Peter Pettigrew),Ebony Thomas (James Potter) - To whet our appetites for the amazing and varied programming on Friday and Saturday, this panel discussion highlights the Nimbus - 2003 mascots: The Marauders. Topics will range from individual questions about each of James, Peter, Remus, and Sirius, as well as questions that address their relationships during school, before James's death, and after Sirius's escape from Azkaban.
  • Once Upon a Time-Turner: A History of the Harry Potter Fandom (Panel Discussion, Mai Pucik (Moderator), Amy Gordanier and Madeline Klink) - Fandoms, or online fan communities, are rapidly-evolving places and the case of Harry Potter is no exception. Though it dates back only four years, our fandom has undergone many changes, from its genesis as arena for young readers to meet and trade ideas and stories to its current sprawling incarnation as a writing, drawing, and theorizing base for thousands of fans of all netsurfing ages. Mai Pucik ("Firebolt", "Tinderblast"), Amy Gordanier ("Amy G."), and Madeline Klink ("Flourish") explore trends of the past, present, and possible future of the Harry Potter fandom, including the rise of "epic" fan fiction, the turnover of popular character pairings and the changes in the treatment of throwaway characters and other offhand textual references. No experience of the fandom is required, but knowledge of the Harry Potter novels is recommended.
  • Slytherins, Smoke and Shadows: The Secret Life of Severus Snape (Panel Discussion, Madeline Klink (Moderator), Meghan Mercier and Kendra Nuckels) - Severus Snape: love him or hate him, you have to be intrigued by him. This panel will explore fanon interpretations of Snape's character and how far they are supported by canon, discuss Snape's appeal, and analyze several commonly held theories about his past and future.
  • The Importance of Being Ron (Panel Discussion, Catherine Tosenberger (Moderator), Debra Duncan and Susan Faust - This will take the form of a round table, with the moderator acting as discussion coordinator. Audience participation will be encouraged, although the panelists will contribute the bulk of the discussion. Emphasis will be placed on literary readings of Ron – as an example of “the sidekick,” as an archetypical knight, as an ambassador/representative of the wizarding world for Harry and Hermione, as the entryway to the “ideal” family, and so forth. Some discussion will be given to the Ron/Hermione ship, but as that topic is being covered in-depth by another panel, this discussion will be kept to a minimum.
  • Panel: Coming out of the Cupboard: Slash in Harry Potter Fandom (John Walton, Moderator, Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw) [3]
  • Panel: Resolved—Can Draco Malfoy Be Redeemed? (Aja Romano, Moderator)
  • Panel: Sail on, Good Ship: Shipping Debate (Sarah Goff, Moderator)
  • Panel: The Wizarding World: Past, Present and Future (Ebony Thomas Moderator)
  • Other Voices, Other Common Rooms (Meghan Mercier)
  • Keeping it in the Family: The Weasleys, the Malfoys and Canon and its Dis(mal)contents (Catherine Tosenberger) - The Weasleys and the Malfoys, as the two most prominent wizarding dynasties within the Harry Potter canon, occupy a central place in a narrative that is so deeply concerned about belonging. What, then, does it mean to be a Weasley or a Malfoy, both in canon and fanon? Particular emphasis will be placed upon fanfictional incest narratives, as a working example of genre reinscription, in this case the Gothic or Gothic-Romantic. With that in mind, these stories, by enshrining a subversive or pathological family dynamic as a central theme, explicitly articulate the tensions between the public, external interactions of the families, and the private, interior relationships among family members, and illuminate broader issues of each family’s representation within the fandom.
  • Fanwords: The Evolution of Fandom Vernacular in the Harry Potter Fandom (Mai Pucik) - Every activity that involves socializing among its hobbyists will eventually develop its own distinctive vocabulary. Once limited to niche magazine publications and the rare hobbyist gathering, the arrival of the Internet allowed wide-ranging and frequent contact between hobbyists as never before. In the case of Harry Potter fans, the vast size of the fan community allowed particular vocabulary to appear not only for the fandom as a whole, but for individual sites, mailing lists, and other places where fans interact. This paper examines the evolution and spread of vernacular in various regions of the Harry Potter fandom, with examples.
  • Affinity & Lexical Choice in the Fan Community (Evelyn Browne)
  • Don't Tell the Grownups: Subversion in Harry Potter Text and Fandom (Catherine Tosenberger)
  • Cloaks and Cauldrons: An Anti-Stereotypical Analysis of Wizarding Fashion (Mary LeGrow) - Ms. Mary LeGrow, a professional model and costumer and owner of the Wonderland Costume Shop, will discuss the costume choices and designs used to enhance the story and character developments seen in the Harry Potter films. The main how and why of wizarding fashion will be discussed, as well as the director's use of certain design elements and fabrics to separate the wizarding world from the Muggle world. Ms. LeGrow will also analyze the use of costuming as a way of defining certain character personalities, such as Professor Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Professor Lockhart and others. Audience participation in this lecture is preferred and attendees are encouraged to share their ideas on the costume choice and selection for each character, setting or mood. Free sample patterns for House robes will be distributed while supplies last, so please show up on time!

The Lunches

  • Harassing Harry: The "Demonizing" of the Harry Potter Series (Judith Krug, Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association Keynote Luncheon) - Uncommonly popular with children, parents, educators and readers of all stripes, the Harry Potter books have attracted the attention of critics as well as fans. For four years running, the books have been the most frequently banned and challenged titles in the country. Judith F. Krug, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, will discuss the Harry Potter phenomenon and the unprecedented attempts to censor it, in the context of censorship and intellectual freedom in our schools and libraries.
  • Creating Digital Costumes and Environments for Feature Films (Ari Rapkin)

In the News

A local reporter lurking around the hallway between the event rooms asked the usual stupid questions like "Why are there so many girls here?" and wrote an article that described fanfic as being divided into "slash" and "het slash" but which was otherwise a fairly accurate and evenhanded description of Nimbus 2003.[1]

See Wizards in love.

Notable Attendees

Many HP fandom BNFs attended including Cassandra Claire and a number of her friends.

There were also a number of people in the publishing industry at the luncheons.


Some fans were unhappy with the expensive location.

There was also the usual drama over private room parties.

BNF Ivyblossom decision not to attend, a decision she attributed to The Very Secret Diaries of Aja, a post of Aja's, generated considerable wank.[4] Aja talks about this in Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop (2012).

There was also controversy about the official art: One fan wrote in 2020:

... [Cassandra Claire] walked around the first HP convention with group of bodyguards (obsessive fans) circling her. At the same convention, she walked into (was ushered into) a panel already in progress and people were asked to move tables if she didn't feel comfortable with you sitting close. She had her own table. The randomly picked people were at other tables but just happened to be near. Her friends took the seats vacated by the people tossed.

I was on the peripheral of the HP "inner circle" in the early/mid 2000s. I created artwork for the first convention (Nimbus) and was asked to create the art for the second. I worked on it for a few weeks and went through alterations and proofs with the top staff of the con. When the art was announced and released to the fandom, a BNFs name was credited my name was nowhere to be found. I actually said something about it in the con art forums and i was promptly removed. I lost friendships with people who literally told me it was acceptable because another BNFs name was now credited and I should be flattered (?!) and that I shouldn't make waves.

Yeah. The HP fandom was pure insanity and filled with horrible people back then. I have so many stories.[5]

A Place in Time and Continuity

One big thing that I noticed between the two Harry Potter cons I went to. I went to Nimbus in 2003, which was the first big Harry Potter convention or really the first Harry Potter convention, and it was huge. It was enormous. It was supposed to be both a fan con and an academic conference and did a reasonably good job of being both. And it had been scheduled months and years in advance but it ended up happening three weeks after Order of the Phoenix came out. And it was an amazing con because everybody was on the same page. The fans and the academics had all had the same amount of time to pore over the books minutely and memorize everything in the first four and the same amount of time to not at all be prepared for book five and everybody had the same amount of background knowledge. Everybody had had the same discussions. Everybody was at the same level and could all engage in this conversation. And it was amazing.

Two years later, so like, right, yeah, so after book six but not long after book six, just like three or four months, yeah, because book six came out in the summer and this was after Halloween weekend of 2005, I went to—whatever the one in Salem was called, the second one that HPEF did, and it was completely different because at this point the fandom was so far ahead of the academic side in terms of every aspect of that conversation. I went to some great academic papers... at the second HPEF con in Salem... but they were all the ones about things other than Harry Potter. Everything I went to about Harry Potter that wasn't being done by fans, for fans, it was like 101. The fandom contingent, you know, the our fandom contingent was just like sort of in the background shaking their heads going, "We've done this. This is not a revolutionary idea." It was a much more pronounced version of the same thing that's happened sometimes at WisCon with media panels where the, where—Yeah, people from our community will be at the media panels at WisCon sort of going, "We thought of that. Within a day. We had that conversation. Are you not on the Internets?" [6]

Con Reports


There is an official site for the con.


  1. ^ a b Wizards in love, by Colette Bancroft, published in the St. Petersburg Times ("Floridian" section), July 23, 2003. Accessed June 2, 2009.
  2. ^ "Nimbus 2003: A Harry Potter Symposium". Archived from the original on 2007-08-12.
  3. ^ "I saw [MsScribe] at a Nimbus 2003, which was the first HP panel or conference, and I was on a couple panels there. I was on the Draco panel with Cassie—and I would—and the slash panel was immediately after that. And the slash panel was really infamous because it had a lot of contention, and Dionne actually stood up and started talking about diversity and fandom, and she was very sassy and everybody loved her. And I got to ride in her convertible. But it was very clear that she was doing a lot of things specifically just to be friends with Cassie and just to troll everybody and play off this cult worship around Cassie, and it was very bizarre." -- Aja's comments in Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop (2012)
  4. ^ The Very Secret Diary of Aja entry on the Fandom Wank Wiki. Accessed June 3, 2009.
  5. ^ comment by ursamajr, from The Cassandra Cla(i)re Saga
  6. ^ Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Ellen Fremedon