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Spend your winter break abroad! The short-term program, From Harry Potter to Brexit: Youth Culture and Social Change, is accepting applications. This 11-day, 4-credit course (WST 220) –which primarily takes place in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland—will enable students to experience the connection between place and politics and to examine techniques of visual storytelling. While traveling through and between these two cities, you will learn about the ways that mediums like film, television, music, and cartooning have been utilized to craft progressive political messages. We will converse with academic experts and youth activists about the effect of gender, race, and nationality on 20th and 21st century British politics, with a particular focus on the contemporary crisis brought on by Brexit.
We will analyze the Harry Potter series of books and films as a specific case study that illustrates the possibilities of using pop culture toward progressive ends, examining the ways that it engages with contemporary and historical patterns in British history, such as nativist sentiment, sexist politics, and labor rights. Our visits to both real-world sites used in the film and to the Warner Brothers studio will demonstrate the ways that filmmakers use place to ground fantastical stories and to embed politicized messages. In addition to more traditional methods like taking field notes, we will also utilize social media throughout our trip in order to put into practice one of the central claims of this course—that social media can be an effective and essential mechanism of distributing peer-reviewed information in an accessible manner.