Interpretive practice and redifining meaning in Harry Potter

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Seymour, JL 2014, 'Interpretive practice and redefining meaning in Harry Potter', New Academia: An International Journal of English Language, Literature and Literary Theory, vol. 3, no. 3.

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This paper explores and analyses the phenomenon in which readers interpret words by privileging their previous experience of them; even when that experience directly contradicts the word’s use in a narrative. The imposition of alternative meanings onto words which are used within a specific narrative discourse often leads to fallacious conclusions about the ideological and spiritual themes in the text. This paper offers an exploratory, evidence-based critique of the interpretive practices of Harry Potter critics who base their examinations of the narratives on contexts outside of the narratives themselves. After briefly outlining the critical conclusions which focus on spiritual and mythological signifiers in Harry Potter, this paper offers an alternative analysis of those signifiers; with specific reference to the usage of these words in the narratives. When a word’s usage in a narrative is privileged over its accepted meaning in real-world discourses, critics gain a clearer understanding of the narrative as a whole.

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