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Indian law school offers course on ‘Harry Potter’ world

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Students at an Indian law school are preparing to study the enslavement of house elves, discrimination against werewolves and conditions inside Azkaban, reported Taipei Times (Taiwan).

In December, the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata is to run its first classes on the legal principles of the Harry Potter universe.

The course, titled: “An interface between fantasy fiction literature and law: special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse,” is the creation of assistant professor Shouvik Kumar Guha.

Those enrolled are “expected [to] have already read all the books at least twice, if not more.”

The curriculum asks senior students to apply both Indian and wizarding legal principles to topics such as the “unforgivable curses” — torture, murder and possession of another person — the rules of the broomstick sport Quidditch and the murder trial of Sirius Black.

Along with breaking up the the study of stodgier legal subjects, the course is also intended to encourage students to think critically about Indian social problems.

“In India right now, the political situation is divisive,” Kumar said. “I have my own political leanings, but it would be inappropriate to apply them in class. So I am trying to use something on which our students will not have any previous value judgements.”

“Our students believe the discrimination voiced in the Potter-verse is something they all agree is wrong, but in real life there will be things that some see as discrimination and which others do not,” he said.

The course is to examine how, in the novels, creatures such as elves, centaurs and giants are marginalized in mainstream society and how the Daily Prophet newspaper becomes an outlet for official propaganda.

“Then they can see when they encounter scenarios in the real world, maybe it will help them think a little bit,” Kumar said.

All 40 spots on the course have been filled.

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