Wright discusses law and magical world of Harry Potter

Published: October 8th, 2012

Category: News

WrightBy Marcela Suter
Staff writer

Donning a wizard’s robe and hat, Danaya Wright, Clarence J. TeSelle Professor of Law, discussed the law and the absence of law in the magical world of Harry Potter. Her Sept. 27 discussion, “Curses, Crimes and Covenants: The Law and Harry Potter,” analyzed a variety of legal issues within the wildly successful Harry Potter books and movies.

“Thinking critically of Rowling’s magical world can help us to think about our own laws, what they do, what they constrain, and ultimately who benefits from them,” Wright said.

Wright spoke on issues such as privacy law, gun/wand control and criminal punishments. She highlighted similarities and differences between the law of Wemuggles – those without magic – and the law within Harry Potter’s world – why some laws are unnecessary in the wizarding world, and why other situations demand a different kind of law.

Wright also hypothesized why these differences may make sense in a world of diverse creatures with various magical capabilities and stated that the presence or absence of magic changes the ground rules of how and why laws are created.

“If a wizard can apparate (teleport) into anyone’s house, what kind of privacy laws could be designed to protect wizard liberties?” Wright asked. “In other words, are certain laws not necessary because wizards have more information or are better able to uncover the truth, and do they need other laws because of their unique capabilities?”

Students, faculty, staff, and the public gathered in Smathers Library for this lecture as part of Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine, a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine. This exhibit, hosted by the UF Health Science Center Library, ran from Aug. 28 through Oct. 4. Accompanying the exhibit were speaker and film series featuring presentations by faculty from UF and beyond.

Wright has also contributed to The Law and Harry Potter by writing about how family law is represented in the series.