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Potterhead July | Accepting New Canon in the Harry Potter Universe

Sunday, July 10, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

There's a running joke on Tumblr that the Harry Potter fandom is the fandom that lived. Nothing has been able to crush our fandom. Even though Rowling announced that no more books were going to be written, the fandom lived on, with head-cannons, fan-fiction, and fan-art.

But (not-so) recently, Rowling has announced several additions to the Harry Potter universe. Our fandom is truly the one that lived, with more official content being released! 

Is this a cause for celebration? 

I'm not too sure of that myself. 

I'm definitely happy about the upcoming release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, as well as The Cursed Child, but I don't know, there's some part of me that feels betrayed by their release. You see, with their release, I'm afraid. Afraid that some of the head-cannons that I've established will come tumbling down.

During the five years or so that we had absolutely no new Harry Potter content (not even Pottermore!), there's been a huge surge of fanfiction, and fan-art, and different headcannons for me to establish. And ingrained in my head these fan-imagined things are. Let's take a look at a few of my favourite fanfiction pieces for example... 

Orchideous - Hermione x Krum - This is a really sweet fanfic that my friend, Janelle, wrote. It's about how Krum asks Hermione to the Yule Ball. Janelle is a great writer too, and she sticks to the characterisation really well! :) 
I Write Complacent Notes of Correspondence, Not Love Letters - James x Lily - I really liked this one! Felt it showed James x Lily's growing relationship perfectly, in an interesting medium - notes! 
Two Strokes of Midnight - James x Lily - New Year's celebrations? YES PLEASE
A Beautiful World - Luna x Neville - This is a really sweet fanfic! Luna is just so...Luna! 

Commentarius - James x Lily - This is a long fanfic. If memory serves me well... this fanfic is longer than the Queen, J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book. It's complete though, and really great quality! Also, who can resist James x Lily?? 
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - Alternate Universe - I really liked this one! Kinda made me think of it being a cross between Bones and Harry Potter! 

Some of these pieces have contributed to my head-cannon of what life at Hogwarts was like, who these characters were, etc. And the addition to the Harry Potter universe, via mediums such as the internet (Pottermore), the theatre (The Cursed Child) or just the plain old movies (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them) has dissolved some of these headcannons for me. 

It brings up the question - when does authorial intent override the reader's experience/perspective? When can I disregard canon, and think about the Harry Potter world as I see it? 

The best example of this would be the announcement of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger, and Rowling's subsequent endorsement of a 'black Hermione'.
Seeing this tweet, my headcannons came crashing down. Hermione, not white? That was difficult for me to get my head around. All my life, I had thought of Hermione as white. Why? Let's see why below: 
  1. I never pictured a black Hermione, because it didn't seem to fit her character. In Harry Potter, it was established that Hermione is very vocal about social issues, such as mistreatment of the house elves - going so far as to create S.P.E.W. Given the time period, if Hermione was black, I personally would have expected for a very outspoken Hermione, who talked about racial issues. 
  2. In the Hermione Granger page in Pottermore, the diagrams of her are all white. Pottermore is supposed to be the official site - but if it's the official site, and J.K. Rowling is also an official source, why do the two conflict? Pottermore has white Hermione, but Rowling loves black Hermione.
  4. Furthermore, Rowling is using an argument from ignorance in the above twitter post. The argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy that asserts that a proposition is true because there has never been any evidence to the contrary. By saying that "white skin was never specified", and following that with her love for "black Hermione", Rowling is appealing to ignorance by suggesting that black Hermione is canon.
Don't get me wrong, I reckon Noma Dumezweni is probably an awesome actress (I wouldn't know for sure - I don't live in an area that will show The Cursed Child any time soon) - but I just always pictured Hermione as white. My only problem is that Rowling, with one tweet, has forced me to confront one of the most central assumptions that I have had about the Potter universe. So...should I change my entire perspective, my headcannon of Hermione's race just because Rowling endorses Hermione as black? 

For me, after a while thinking about it, I remembered something I once watched - a CrashCourse video that John Green once made. In this video, he says "Dear Authorial don't matter!" Along this, he stated that "The book does not exist for the author, the book exists for the benefits of others!", and as one of the many others, I choose to interpret Rowling's Harry Potter universe as one without her tweets, and her recent additions. 

I'll probably watch Fantastic Beasts, and maybe read The Cursed Child, plus go on Pottermore once in a blue moon. But I'm not going to accept every piece of information as canon - I'll selectively pick and choose. Because to me, I think the Harry Potter universe was always a utopia for me. It was my getaway as a child, I used to love imagining myself in there, and all the awesome amazing things that were in that universe. And I don't really want to change any aspect of that. 

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading this really long post guys! This was a really hard post for me to publish (some of this post is from previous drafts which I haven't dared to post before), and I would really appreciate no hate, and only thoughtful, well-reasoned opinions and comments. Do you have any fanfiction recommendations to keep my headcannons firmly established? Or what do you guys think about the additions to the Harry Potter universe? 

Keep reading and loving books!

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