Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-rkxrd Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-19T22:15:09.102Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter

Balancing Fan Agency and Corporate Control

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 June 2019

Marianne Martens
Kent State University, Ohio


Harry Potter fans contribute their immaterial and affective labor in multiple arenas: as peer-to-peer marketers via fan sites and social media; as participants in amateur fan festivals; or as activists for social change. Fans' participation in the Harry Potter universe has contributed to its success. This Element examines how fans' labor might continue to support the franchise for future readers. Starting with the context and theoretical frameworks that support a multidimensional analysis of the Harry Potter fan experience, this Element examines tensions between fans and Warner Bros., as fan participation tests the limits of corporate control.
Get access
Online ISBN: 9781108599092
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 27 June 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Aaron, M. (2015, November 10). So you haven’t seen Star Wars … A Harry Potter geek’s guide to a galaxy far, far away. Scholar
Akron-Summit County Public Library (2018). Potter Faire Akron. Scholar
American Library Association (2006, September 21). Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st century [press release]. Scholar
Associated Press (2018, June 16). Warner Bros. casts cease-and-desist letters to curse Harry Potter fan festivals. Daily News. Scholar
Bacon-Smith, C. (1992). Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of the Popular Myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
Barthes, R. (1977). Image, Music, Text. Translated by Heath, S.. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
Baym, N. (2014). Perils and pleasures of tweeting with fans. In Weller, K., Bruns, A., Burgess, J., Mahrt, M., & Puschmann, C., eds., Twitter and Society. New York: Peter Lang, pp. 221–36.Google Scholar
BBC News (2007, October 20). J. K. Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay. Scholar
Beck, K. (2017, December 12). A hilarious new Harry Potter chapter was written by a predictive keyboard – and it’s perfect. Mashable. Scholar
Bennett, L. (2014a). Fan/celebrity interactions and social media: Connectivity and engagement in Lady Gaga fandom. In Duits, L., Zwann, K., & Reijnders, S., eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures. Burlington, VT, and Farnham, UK: Ashgate, pp. 109–20. Scholar
Bennett, L. (2014b). Tracing textual poachers: Reflections on the development of fan studies and digital fandom. Journal of Fandom Studies, 2(1), pp. 520. Scholar
Bennett, L., Chin, B., & Jones, B. (2016). Between ethics, fandom and social media: New trajectories that challenge media producer/fan relations. In Davisson, A. & Booth, P., eds., Controversies in Digital Ethics. New York: Bloomsbury Academics. Scholar
Booth, P. (2010). Digital Fandom: New Media Studies, 1st edn. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
Botnik (2017). Harry Potter [predictive text]. Scholar
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Bourdieu, P. (1993). The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Bourdieu, P. (1996). The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, 1st edn. Translated by Emanuel, S.. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Bradley, L. (2018, February 15). Fantastic beasts: The crimes of Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s vexing sexuality. Vanity Fair. Scholar
Brough, M. M., & Shresthova, S. (2011). Fandom meets activism: Rethinking civic and political participation. Transformative Works and Cultures, 10. Scholar
Brummitt, C. (2016). Pottermore: Transmedia storytelling and authorship in Harry Potter. Midwest Quarterly, 58(1), pp. 112–32.Google Scholar
Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2015). Is Habermas on Twitter? Social media and the public sphere. In Christensen, C., Enli, G., Bruns, A., Sokgerbo, E., & Larsson, A. O., eds., The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. New York and Oxford: Routledge, pp. 5673.Google Scholar
Bruns, A., Moon, B., Paul, A., & Münch, F. (2016). Towards a typology of hashtag publics: A large-scale comparative study of user engagement across trending topics. Communication Research and Practice, 2(1), pp. 2046. Scholar
Busse, K., & Hellekson, K. (2006). Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland.Google Scholar
Camacci, L. (2016, November 10). What counts as Harry Potter canon? In Media Res: A Media Commons Project. Scholar
Carpenter, C. (2017, October 19). A sneak peek at the British Library’s Harry Potter exhibition. The Bookseller. Scholar
Cerón, E. (2018, March 26). Why “Harry Potter” means so much to the Parkland activists. Teen Vogue. Scholar
Chaplain, C. (2018, June 16). Warner Bros. sparks outrage after crackdown on Harry Potter fan events to ‘preserve trademark’. Evening Standard. Scholar
Chestertown HP Festival (2016). Scholar
Clark, B. L. (2004). Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children’s Literature in America. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Clarke, A. (2016). What your Hogwarts house says about you. Odyssey Online. Scholar
Collins, J. (2010). Bring on the Books for Everybody: How Literary Culture Became Popular Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
Comic-Con (2018). About. Scholar
Coté, M., Pybus, J. (2007). Learning to immaterial labor 2.0: Myspace and Social Networks. Ephemera, 7, pp. 88106.Google Scholar
Cramer, A. (2017). Kent Potterfest 2017 Facebook group post. Scholar
Dargis, M., & Scott, O. (2011, July 1). The fans own the magic. New York Times. Scholar
Das, R. (2016). “I’ve walked this street”: Readings of “reality” in British young people’s reception of Harry Potter. Journal of Children and Media, 10(3), pp. 341–54.Google Scholar
Davenport, T. H., & Beck, J. C. (2002). The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business, rev. edn. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.Google Scholar
Driessens, O. (2013). The celebritization of society and culture: Understanding the structural dynamics of celebrity culture. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(6), pp. 641–57. Scholar
Driscoll, B. (2015). Sentiment analysis and the literary festival audience. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 29(6), pp. 861–73.Google Scholar
EdwardTLC (2007, October 20). J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall reveals Dumbledore is gay. Leaky Cauldron. Scholar
Farr, C. K. (2015). A Wizard of Their Age: Critical Essays from the Harry Potter Generation. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
Fatemi, F. (2018, March 31). What’s your strategy for attracting generation Z? Forbes. Scholar
Fiske, J. (2010). Understanding Popular Culture. Oxford and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Fiske, J. (2011). Reading the Popular, 2nd edn. Oxford and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Flowers, L. (2017). Kent Potterfest 2017 Facebook group post. Scholar
François, S. (2007). Les fanfictions, nouveau lieu d’expression de soi pour la jeunesse? [FanFiction – A new method of self-expression for youth?] Agora Débat Jeunesses, 4(46), pp. 5868.–4-page-58.htmGoogle Scholar
Frow, J. (1995). Cultural Studies and Cultural Value. Cornell East Asia Series. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Gaetjens, B. (2018, January 8). Main Street Kent looks to continue successful downtown events. Record Courier. Scholar
Galuszka, P. (2015). New economy of fandom. Popular Music and Society, 38(1), pp. 2543.Google Scholar
Garner, D. (2008, May 1). Ten years later, Harry Potter vanishes from the best-seller list. New York Times. Scholar
Generic Magic Festival [Roanoke, VA] (n.d.). Scholar
Gibbs, N. (2007, December 19). Persons of the Year 2007 runners-up J. K. Rowling. Time.,28804,1690753_1695388_1695436,00.htmlGoogle Scholar
Gilbert, A. (2017). Live from Hall H: Fan/producer symbiosis at San Diego Comic-Con. In Gray, J., Sandvoss, C., & Harrington, C. L., eds., Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, 2nd edn. New York: New York University Press, pp. 354–68.Google Scholar
Glass, L. (2004). Authors Inc.: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, 1880–1980. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
González, E. (2018, October 5). A young activist’s advice. New York Times. Scholar
Goodman, L. (2015). Disappointing fans: Fandom, fictional theory, and the death of the author. Journal of Popular Culture, 48(4), pp. 662–76.Google Scholar
Granger, J. (2006). Looking for God in Harry Potter. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.Google Scholar
Granger Leadership Academy (n.d.). Content. FAQ page. Scholar
Green, J., Green, H., et al. (n.d.). Crash Course. Scholar
Guerrero-Pico, M. (2017). #Fringe, audiences and fan labor: Twitter activism to save a TV show from cancellation. International Journal of Communication, 11, p. 2071–92.Google Scholar
Habermas, J. (1989 [1962]). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Hamilton, H. E., & Sefel, J. M. (2015). We are book eight: Secrets to the success of the Harry Potter Alliance. In Brenner, L. S., ed., Playing Harry Potter: Essays and Interviews on Fandom and Performance. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, pp. 207–19.Google Scholar
Harry Potter Alliance (2015a). Not in Harry’s name. Scholar
Harry Potter Alliance (2015b). What we do. Scholar
Harry Potter Alliance Facebook page (n.d.). Scholar
Hill, M. (2016, January 12). 16 reasons why Star Wars and Harry Potter are secretly EXACTLY the same: May the “orphan fighting evil with magic pointy sticks” be with you. Digital Spy. Scholar
Hills, M. (2013). Fiske’s “textual productivity” and digital fandom: Web 2.0 democratization versus fan distinction? Participations, 10(1), pp. 130–53.Google Scholar
Hills, M. (2018). Implicit fandom in the fields of theatre, art, and literature: Studying “fans” beyond fan discourses. In Booth, P., ed., A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
Hinck, A. (2011). Theorizing a public engagement keystone: Seeing fandom’s integral connection to civic engagement through the case of the Harry Potter Alliance. Transformative Works and Cultures, 10. Scholar
Hoover, A. (2018, November 21). N.J. Harry Potter-themed festival shut down by movie studio who must-not-be-named. Scholar
Huffington Post (2013, December 13). Forbes’ billionaire list: JK Rowling drops from billionaire to millionaire due to charitable giving. Scholar
IMDb (2018). Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Scholar
Jessica, J. (2015, April 1). Rowling announces 2016 worldwide signing tour. Mugglenet. Scholar
Jaffe, A. (2005). Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity, 1st edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Jarrett, K. (2003). Labor of love: An archaeology of affect as power in e-commerce. Journal of Sociology, 39(4), pp. 335–51.Google Scholar
Jenkins, H. (1988). Star Trek rerun, reread, rewritten: Fan writing as textual poaching. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 5(2), pp. 85107.Google Scholar
Jenkins, H. (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
Jenkins, H. (2011a). “Cultural acupuncture”: Fan activism and the Harry Potter Alliance. Transformative Works and Cultures, 10. Scholar
Jenkins, H. (2011b, June 24). Three reasons why Pottermore matters: Confessions of an AcaFan. Scholar
Jenkins, H. (2012). Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture: Updated Twentieth Anniversary Edition. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Jennette, A. (2013, September 29). Defining the “Harry Potter” generation. Scholar
Jones, N., Rundell, K., McNally, R., & Chakrabati, S. (2017, November 23). The Harry Potter effect: A discussion on how the Harry Potter books have changed the landscape of children’s literature and permeated our cultural consciousness [recording of panel discussion]. Royal Society of Literature. Scholar
Jones, P. (2012, March 28). How Pottermore cast an ebook spell over Amazon. The Guardian. Scholar
Jones, P. (2015, September 10). Pottermore readies radical relaunch. The Bookseller. Scholar
Just, J. (2010, April 1). The parent problem in young adult lit. New York Times. Scholar
Kent Potterfest 2017 (2017). [link was broken as of May 2018].Google Scholar
Kettering, S. (2017). Kent Potterfest 2017. Facebook group. Scholar
Larsen, K. (2015). (Re)Claiming Harry Potter fan pilgrimage sites. In Brenner, L. S., ed., Playing Harry Potter: Essays and Interviews on Fandom and Performance. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.Google Scholar
Liao, S. (2017, December 12). This Harry Potter AI-generated fanfiction is remarkably good. The Scholar
Little Studio Big Art (2013). Harry Potter festival. Scholar
Loot Crate (2018). J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Scholar
Main Street Kent (n.d.). About. Scholar
Marantz, A. (2015). The virologist: How a young entrepreneur built an empire by repackaging memes. New Yorker. Scholar
Martens, M. (2016). Publishers, Readers, and Digital Engagement. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
Marwick, A., & boyd, d. (2011). To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on Twitter. Convergence, 17(2), pp. 139–58. Scholar
McGrath, C. (2005, November 13). The Narnia skirmishes. New York Times. Scholar
Meadows, S. (2017). Kent Potterfest 2017 Facebook group post. Scholar
Menta, A. (2017, December 14). Absurd new “Harry Potter” book written by predictive text already has fan art. Newsweek. Scholar
Miller, L. (2018, March 16). Teens already know how to overthrow the government. The Cut. Scholar
Mills, A. (2016). Colonialism in wizarding America: JK Rowling’s history of magic in North America through an Indigenous lens. The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature, 19(1). Scholar
Moran, J. (2000). Star Authors: Literary Celebrity in America. Sterling, VA: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
Murray, S. (2004). “Celebrating the story the way it is”: Cultural studies, corporate media and the contested utility of fandom. Continuum, 18(1), pp. 725. Scholar
Murray, S., & Weber, M. (2017). “Live and local”? The significance of digital media for writers’ festivals. Convergence: The International Journal of New Media Technologies, 23(1), pp. 6178.Google Scholar
Nicolas, A. (2018). Formes de représentation, impératif d’actualité et enjeux de pouvoir sur les dispositifs numériques: L’Exemple de J. K. Rowling et du site. Mémoires du livre, 9(2), Scholar
Ohlsson, A., Forslid, T., & Steiner, A. (2014). Literary celebrity reconsidered. Celebrity Studies, 5(1–2), pp. 3244.Google Scholar
Ommundsen, W. (2004). Sex, soap and sainthood: Beginning to theorise literary celebrity. Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, 3, 4556.Google Scholar
Ommundsen, W. (2009). Literary festivals and cultural consumption. Australian Literary Studies, 24(1), pp. 1934.Google Scholar
Oxford University Press (2018). Slacktivism. Oxford Living Dictionary. Scholar
Pearson, R. (2010). Fandom in the digital era. Popular Communication, 8(1), pp. 8495. Scholar
Pew Research Center (2018, March 1). Defining generations: Where millennials end and postmillennials begin. Scholar
Plante, C. N., Roberts, S. E., Reysen, S., & Gerbasi, K. C. (2014). “One of us”: Engagement with fandoms and global citizenship identification. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 3(1), pp. 4964. Scholar
Pollock, A. [@alainapol22]. (2018, April 24). Should i change my twitter profile to “J K. Rowling liked my tweet”. Am i basically famous now????? Twitter. Scholar
Prendergast, L. (2017). Harry Potter and the Millennial mind: How J.K. Rowling shaped the political thinking of a generation. The Spectator. Scholar
Propp, V. (1968). Morphology of the Folktale, 2nd edn. Austin, TX, and London: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
Pugh, T., & Wallace, D. L. (2006). Heteronormative heroism and queering the school story in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 31(3), p. 268.Google Scholar
Pugh, T., & Wallace, D. L. (2008). A postscript to “Heteronormative heroism and queering the school story in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 33(2), pp. 188–92.Google Scholar
Recuero, R., Amaral, A., & Monteiro, C. (2012). Fandoms, trending topics and social capital in Twitter. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2. Scholar
Respers France, L. (2018, February 2). J. K. Rowling responds to gay Dumbledore controversy. CNN Entertainment. Scholar
Roanoke Harry Potter Festival (n.d.). Scholar
Rose, F. (2011, July 20). Magic indeed: J. K. Rowling rethinks the art of fiction. Wired Magazine. Scholar
Rowling, J. K. (n.d.). Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Pottermore. Scholar
Rowling, J. K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
Ruddock, A. (2001). Understanding Audiences. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
Ruddock, A. (2007). Investigating Audiences. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
Schäfer, M. (2015). Digital public sphere. In Mazzoleni, G. et al., eds., International Encyclopedia of Political Communication. London: Wiley, pp. 322–8.Google Scholar
Serjeant, J. (2007, October 15). J. K. Rowling launches U.S. book tour with mass signing. Reuters. Scholar
Sims, D. (2015, September 18). In defense of Hufflepuff. The Atlantic. Scholar
Sklar, R. (2018, March 26). Harry Potter inspired the Parkland generation. CNN. Scholar
Smith, D. (2017, August 1). Potterfest summons throngs to Kent. Record Courier.Google Scholar
Stephenson, A. (2016). The Construction of Authorship and Audience in the Production and Consumption of Children’s Film Adaptations. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Southampton.Google Scholar
Stiefvater, M. (2018). About. Tumblr. Scholar
Swinehart, K.R. (2017). Kent Potterfest 2017 Facebook group post. Scholar
Terranova, T. (2000). Free labor: Producing culture for the digital economy. Social Text, 63, pp. 3357.Google Scholar
The Guardian Data Blog (2016, August 9). The top 100 bestselling books of all time: How does Fifty Shades of Grey compare? Scholar
Thérenty, M. E., & Wrona, A. (2013, 14 June). L’Écrivain comme marque: Agenda. [The author as a brand: Agenda]. Conference program. Scholar
Thérenty, M. E., & Wrona, A., eds. (2018). L’Écrivain comme marque. [The author as a brand]. Paris: Presses universitaires de la Sorbonne.Google Scholar
Tosenberger, C. (2008). Homosexuality at the online Hogwarts: Harry Potter slash fanfiction. Children’s Literature, 36(1), pp. 185207.Google Scholar
Twitter Help (n.d.). Parody, commentary, and fan account policy. Scholar
Vander Ark, S. (2004, July 1). Fan site award. The Harry Potter Lexicon. Scholar
Vickers, A. (2001, January 22). Warner Bros. in fresh battle over Harry Potter website. The Guardian. Scholar
Vlogbrothers [podcast] (n.d.). Featured. Scholar
Walter, N. (2004, October 26). Works in progress. The Guardian. Scholar
Walton, S. S. (2018). The leaky canon: Constructing and policing heteronormativity in the Harry Potter fandom. Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 15(1), pp. 231–51.Google Scholar
Weber, M. (2014). Conceptualizing audience experience at the literary festival. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 29(1), pp. 8496. Scholar
Weber, M. (2018). Literary Festivals and Contemporary Book Culture. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
Weiss, J. (2018, February 2). Harry Potter becomes best-selling book series in history with more than 500 million copies sold worldwide. Syfy Wire. Scholar
Williams, R. (1983). Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, rev. edn. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Wyatt, D. (2015, July 31). Why Harry Potter’s aged 35, not 26. The Independent. not-26–10430209.htmlGoogle Scholar
Young Lee, P. (2016, July 1). Pottermore problems: Scholars and writers call foul on J. K. Rowling’s North American magic. Salon. Scholar
Zoellner, A. (2017, April 4). Fans, vendors updated on Potter Fest. Daily Union. Scholar

Save element to Kindle

To save this element to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter
Available formats

Save element to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter
Available formats

Save element to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter
Available formats