Examining science, medicine in Harry Potter series

August 04, 2014

picture disc.
An exhibition entitled "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine," will be on exhibit in the McGoogan Library of Medicine today through Sept. 13.

In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals, and perfects his magical abilities.

Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions, including alchemy, astrology and natural philosophy, that played an important role in the development of Western science. Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power.

Using materials from the National Library of Medicine, the exhibit explores Harry Potter's world, its roots in Renaissance science, and the ethical questions that affected not only the wizards of Harry Potter, but also the historical thinkers featured in the series.

To visit the online exhibit, click here.

This exhibition is sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and was curated by Elizabeth J. Bland.

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