“An evening with Rowling” was most definitely not the first event hosted by the Literary Activities Committee Etcetera (LACE). But, it was arguably the best. Zahia Siab’s enthusiasm was catching as she presented the evening in the Doelenzaal – that was hardly distinguishable from Hogwarts’ Great Hall. Gorgeous, atmospheric hall? Check. Hogwarts banners? Check. Drinks provided? Check, check, check.
The conference started off with a lecture on fantasy’s place in literary history by Jonathan Gill. The talk proved an insightful overview and solid introduction to an evening of Potter-inspired fun.
After a twenty-minute break, our former editor-in-chief Tessel Rijneveldsbroek granted us a glimpse of her thesis research into the Dutch translation of Rowling’s Order of the Phoenix characters. As an anglophile and Potter-lover, Tessel used to be wary of translation, but her research made her – and us! – realise there is a certain magic behind the translated names. For they enable readers of all languages, cultures and ages to partake in Rowling’s genius and enjoy the series to the fullest, without being hampered by cultural differences or a limited understanding of the English language. I think I speak for many when I say Cornelis Droebel, Romeo Wolkenveldt and hangoren will never be the same.
Last but not least, Janieke Koning graced the stage. She researched heteronormative family ideology with the help of Harry Potter fanfiction. Claiming that fanfiction can “add, subtract, alter and in this way correct the source text”, Janieke demonstrated that certain non-canon stories actively engage with Rowling’s nuclear families. For, as Janieke pointed out, nearly all HP families are heteronormative, and alternative families (such as Harry’s) appear to have a negative effect on the children. Fanfiction can broaden the scope by introducing well-functioning alternative families and do away with Janieke’s all-too-true conclusion: “If you’re not part of the Weasley family, you definitely should be”.
Overall, the LACE delivered precisely what was promised: an evening full of elucidating talks, like-minded people and a wonderful, buzzing atmosphere that was altogether magical. One thing is clear: next year’s board will have quite the task topping this one!