Myth, Magic and Marketing: Visual and textual representations of globalisation and the Harry Potter phenomenon
To examine the Harry Potter phenomenon within the historical moment of its production through its reproduction and its translation into an iconographic global cultural currency.
Although books of all varieties are frequently translated into many different languages, the visual language of the books should not be discounted as it may be used to deliver messages of ethnic, gender and national identities.
Since its initial publication in 1997 J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has developed from a successful children's book into a global phenomenon. The Harry Potter phenomenon has undergone many transformations to date. Academic research into the Harry Potter phenomenon has sought to explain the cause and implications of the phenomenon. Most of the debates centre on questions concerning the value of the text and the implications of the series on those that read or come into contact with elements of the phenomenon. This doctoral research seeks to contribute to this debate by focusing on the question of visually depicted globalisation in respect of the Harry Potter phenomenon.This research does not examine the visual component of the phenomenon in isolation but combines it with an exploration of the textual content and the contribution of the audience through which to gain an understanding of what is required to create a global phenomenon. Through the Harry Potter phenomenon two theories of globalisation can be seen played out as the phenomenon evolved specifically the initially visually heterogeneous phenomenon became homogenised with the involvement of AOL Time Warner and Coca-Cola in the phenomenon in 2000. The impact of this shift on the phenomenon itself as well as on the fan members of the phenomenon is discussed.
Since 1997 the phenomenon has continued to develop and evolve. The phenomenon itself is comprised of many different components that begin with a series of books but expands to include everything from ancillary products to fan fiction, this requires a varied methodological approach.
The Harry Potter phenomenon though in appearance similar to other cultural phenomenon differs in many ways. Unlike long-standing phenomenon there has yet been the time in order to suggest its is a phenomenon because it has demonstrated staying power. In 2006 people are still reading and buying the Harry Potter books, seeing the films, and the Harry Potter phenomenon is still being discussed in the media. Did media interest and the culture industries manufacture a cultural phenomenon? It is the finding of this research that Harry Potter would have become a phenomenon with or without the media interest and quick publishing of the series. The global nature of the phenomenon might have taken longer to take hold but would have enviably occurred. Only time will tell if this phenomenon continues once all original artefacts of the phenomenon have been produced and released. If the initial interest has staying power in another 10 years it may still register on the global scene, but by then it might resemble something entirely different to the phenomenon of today.