Here are some of the panels and meetups for this year’s CONjuration:
Are You Mental? Crazy Querys of the Magical Macrocosm
Have wizards been in space? Are magic carpets the family vehicles of the wizarding world? When in animal form, does a metamorphmagi eat like a human or an animal? These are just some of the questions that inquiring minds have. The curiosity is just killing us! As such, we will attempt to answer these questions (that have no right answers) in a lighthearted, informal manner while taking new and possible more interesting questions (and answers!) from the audience!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The three-film series based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is one of the most talked about topics in Harry Potter fandom. How are they going to turn that small book into a trilogy? What can we expect in the way of characters we have met in previous movies? Why did they choose to turn this short tome into a trio of movies while previously believing that a 2 ½ hour movie was capable of covering a 900-page novel? Come hear the rumors, ask the questions of possibilities, and delve into this new series with our panel!
From the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues: How Second Tier Characters Can Become Top Billing
Every show evolves over time. Stories progress, get more detailed and become fleshed out. Sometimes these stories take minor, secondary, or recurring characters and lead them on a path to more recognition and importance. Cordelia Chase, Bobby Singer, Leo Wyatt, Castiel, Spike, Cole Turner, Belle, Captain Hook, Daenarys Targaeryan, Tyrion Lannister, and Arya Stark are wonderful examples of expanding plot choices leading to depth and development of supporting characters. Did the writers have a secret plan well in advance for making these characters major players? Who are your favorites? And who has been neglected by Hollywood writers?
All Too Familiar
The names Hedwig, Fawkes, kit, Salem, Shadowfax, Iago, and Archimedes all bring forth thoughts of loyalty and camaraderie. These creature companions of witches and wizards from television, film and literature are many times as well known as their human counterparts. Which animals make the best familiar? What is the interconnection between wizard and familiar? Who chooses who? Have some traditional animal familiars been slighted by modern authors and screenwriters in favor of ones that are more flashy? Learn and discuss!
The Desolation of the Hobbit?
The Desolation of Smaug, has fans upset over departures from the book. The new characters, scenes that are more worthy of Disneyworld or Universal Studios than Middle Earth, love stories in the movie although the book was originally written with no female characters, dwarves who interact with the Dragon… What do Tolkien fans think? Are artistic decisions necessary when translating a fantasy book to its film form? Has Peter Jackson made a masterpiece or a mess? Come debate!
Rods, Staffs, and Wands – A Multifaceted and Mystifying Magic
The most potent symbols of magi throughout history have been the instruments that channel their most powerful magic. Discuss these devices and the importance that they have to the legends and lore of witches and wizards. Learn or reacquaint yourself with these devices of magic that are found in accepted religious tomes (the Rod of Moses or the Ruyi of Chinese Buddhism). Debate which of these devices is more powerful! Answer profound questions that gnaw at the heart of every fan: Could the staff of Gandalf stand against the might of the Elder Wand?
The Restricted Section or “I Read Banned Books and Live to Tell the Tale”
What do Harry Potter, Tom Joad, Frodo Baggins, Huckleberry Finn, Atticus Finch, and Dean Moriarty have in common? Besides being among the most beloved and influential literary characters in history, they are also constantly under attack by groups of people who would see them forever removed from our shelves. The Restricted Section isn’t just a forbidden section of the Hogwarts Library. It is very much a real place and books are disappearing from shelves and out of the hands of people everywhere, especially young readers, due to objections about the content, the author, and other issues. This panel will discuss the differences between “challenged,” “banned,” and “restricted” and what these concepts mean for books. Learn about organizations that fight for the rights of libraries and how they tirelessly work to insure that all library patrons have access to every published work. More importantly, learn why books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and hundreds, if not thousands, of others are still in danger in many libraries. What is the motivation behind the censorship madness and what we can do about it before it is too late?
Castles, Hobbit Holes and Wardrobes: The Life and Character of Objects
Do you think the Hobbit Hole is alive? Is the Wardrobe a sentient being or just a lifeless piece of furniture? Did magic bring Hogwarts to life or does it seem alive because of magic? Are objects and settings enchanted? Do they have their own free will? This panel will discuss all of these things and more about the objects from our favorite stories that so many of us know and love.
Hogwarts vs. Middle-earth
Come participate in a spirited debate that contrasts and connects two of the most compelling fantasy worlds ever created. We’ll debate wizard powers, heroism, friendship, magic, quests, fantastic beasts, and more! Support Dumbledore’s Army or the Fellowship or play both sides against one another!
Charmed vs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Come participate in a spirited debate that contrasts and compares two shows that highlight the power of the feminine mystique! We’ll debate the roles of women in both shows, the powers at their command, heroines, family, friendship, and sisterhood! Support the Scooby Gang of the Charmed Ones or wait for the end of the panel to make your choice!
How Does Your Hogwarts House Define You?
Are students at Hogwarts sorted based on who they are or who they could be? How flexible is the Sorting Hat and does it ever have make judgment calls on it’s own or does it allow the wearer to drive the sorting experience? Is the Sorting Hat ever wrong? Do we sort too soon? Do people evolve and change over time so that where one may be sorted at age 11 one may not be sorted at age 21 or 41 or 61? Join in on a discussion of House characteristics and how they define us. We will use characters from the novels to explore what the Sorting Hat perceives in each student and whether or not those characters truly show the traits for which their Hogwarts House is known. How many characters from the books do YOU think were improperly sorted by the Sorting Hat?
Witches, Hobbits, Slayers, and Hunters and How They Redefine Humanity
Stories such as Harry Potter, LOTR, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Supernatural entice audiences by forcing them to question what it means to be human. What are Voldemort’s most human and inhuman characteristics? How do the denizens of Middle Earth define “human”? What do vampires teach Buffy about being human? How do Sam and Dean navigate a changing definition of humanity during the apocalypse? What makes one human? Is the definition of human being evolving all the time? This is an investigation into the very essence of humankind.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Movie!
Come discuss how the conversion between mediums affects the presentation of story, tone, and character of so many book-to-movie adaptations. What gets lost in translation? Does anything ever get enhanced? Are changes necessary and how does one deal with those changes? What if the changes are so profound that the very notion that the book and movie are related becomes problematic? How should a book and its movie adaptation be presented to fans and should Hollywood be upfront about the vast changes and omissions that can be expected in the movie? Has Hollywood ever succeeded? Which adaptations were the closest? Can Hollywood be forgiven for the redirection that they frequently take in the course of movie creation? And most significantly, what kind of effect do book-to-movie have on fans?
Is Magic a Universal Language?
Every culture on Earth has given us tales of magic and enchantment. The use of spells, potions, and magic by mythological characters and even accepted religions throughout history is common with every tribe, clan, ethnic group and society on the planet. What are the similarities and differences between the types of magic used by different groups? How varied in description are those who use magic based upon their origin? Which culture has created the greatest wizards of legend and lore? Which culture has given us the greatest magical creatures? Learn from our panelists, join the discussion, or start a debate over any and all of these topics. Bring your knowledge of magic to this round table discussion of the History of Magic on planet Earth!
Fractured Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time
Join this discussion on how Once Upon a Time has reshaped the fairy tale universe, augmented stories to fit their whims, and created new connections between characters from every fairy tale devised throughout literature. This show has retained a remarkable flexibility that allows writers to merge the stories together like a fine tapestry. The plot devises and wonderful imaginations of the writers and producers has lead Once Upon a Time down a road of fascinating, unpredictable storylines. Or are they predictable? Does our panel have ideas about where the storyline may go? Does our audience have ideas of their own?
The Lost Boys: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Draco Malfoy and Edmund Pevensie
J. K. Rowling and C. S. Lewis created two characters that readers love to hate. Manipulated and abused, these two characters drove the stories forward and provided readers with a clear picture of good and evil. But were they ever truly bad? Were they to blame for their actions? This panel will cover a comparison between these boys, take an in-depth look at how the authors used these boys, and discuss the true distinctions between black, white, and grey. Villains or victims? Only the audience can decide.
The Hobbit vs. The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘simple’ children’s book, The Hobbit, eventually morphed into the full-blown, mythic epic of The Lord of the Rings. What do these books have in common? Where do they diverge? What are the big differences between going There and Back Again as opposed to a Quest For the Ring? Is an adventure an adventure an adventure? Which makes for a better movie?
Fundamentals of Fan Fiction
Fan Fiction can be a heated topic. It seems you either love or hate it. It can be tricky to articulate what the allure of fanfic really is. Does fan fiction augment the creative mind and offer writers skills to enhance their repertoire? Can it truly be beneficial to a budding authors writing career or is it just a pointless effort in futility and a giant waste of time? What is the appeal to both writers and readers? This panel offers questions to the audience that should provide answers to many of these questions and more. Perhaps even answering the most basic question: why write fanfic?
Stereotypes: Essential Truths or Boilerplate Judgments?
Was J. K. Rowling bias against certain houses? Did she allow her own basic concepts of the houses to drive readers towards their own basic conclusions about each grouping of students? Did spin sully Slytherin’s reputation? Was Ravenclaw ravaged by disregard? Why was Hufflepuff harassed? Did Gryffindor garner grand attention because mom liked them best? This panel discusses narrator bias and disturbing stereotypes in presenting a case for the merits of being a Slytherin, a Hufflepuff, a Ravenclaw, or a Gryffindor while providing counterpoints to common misconceptions and misinformation about what being in each of the houses really means. Check your notions at the door and take a closer look at what these house placements actually say about a person.
The Power of the Past
Tolkien spent years developing Middle-Earth from geography, sociology, and even language. Rowling created a thousand year history for the background of her world. Is this amount of history necessary to create a believable world? Are there authors that manage to create a well-rounded universe for their characters without bothering with a detailed history? How much background information is needed? Is there a point where too much is enough? How does an author/writer proceed with the creation of such a background? Can actual world history be a good substitute in a fantasy setting?
Death of Characters: Story Progression or Authorial Sadism?
In the course of events, an author sometimes has to eliminate a character. At times, depending upon the character, this causes readers great distress. We will discuss why this has to happen and learn a little about the art, methodology, psychology, and science of character-killing. Through the course of the panel, we will also delve into the greatest deaths in the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Narnia, and other novels that are near and dear to fans everywhere.
Structured and Organic Learning in a Fantasy Setting (How Did Harry Skip His Entire Senior Year at Hogwarts and Still Defeat Voldemort?)
This panel will discuss education, fandom, Harry Potter, and fantasy. Fans of everything geek excel at complaints about school, yet most of the adherents to the fandom experience spend their free time in what is essentially academic study. Does fantasy, mythology, and general fandom have something to do with this seeming hypocrisy? This panel is an in-depth look at the differences between structured and organic learning and whether neo-academia should be defined as much by social networking, blogging, game play, self-study, and internet surfing as by the more standard classroom and teacher driven learning experience.
Thanks to Peter Jackson, moviegoers just experienced one of the most dramatic dragons ever to hit the silver screen. Dragons are ingrained in the mythology of every culture on the planet in one manner or another. What is the story with Tolkien, Rowling, Marin and dragons? How do these authors (and others) define and design dragons? How are
well known dragons of fantasy, such as Balerion the Black Dread, Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, and Smaug, similar or different from those of mythology? Which are the most interesting? Have game designers taken dragons to a whole new level, beyond what authors and fabulists ever imagined? While based on the works of Tolien, have the creatures from Dungeons and Dragons exceed even the professors vast creativity? Discover what our panelists have to say about this intriguing topic of monstrous proportion!
Sorting Characters from Other Fandom – Science Fiction Edition
Come discuss the houses of Hogwarts and the process behind the sorting of students. We will debate how to sort characters from a wide multitude of science fiction fandom including Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and others. Is Spock a Ravenclaw? Is Darth Vader a Hufflepuff? How many houses do we have to use in order to properly sort the Doctor?
Sorting Characters from Other Fandom – Magical and Fantasy Edition
Come discuss the houses of Hogwarts and the process behind the sorting of students. We will debate how to sort characters from a wide multitude of magical and fantasy fandom including Supernatural, Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Game of Thrones, Narnia and others. Is Willow a Ravenclaw? Is Dean Winchester a Hufflepuff? Do we sort Mary Poppins based on the movie or the book?
To Tell the Truth (or Not)
We’ll have some of our of authors telling lies (and truths?) about themselves. Can they fool the other authors and the audience with the stories they make up (or relate) in real time? Has their real life been so interesting that even the truth sounds like a story? The audience will participate with paddles stating ‘LIE’ or ‘TRUTH’ and the votes will be tallied by the moderator. Which author will be voted as the ‘Storytelling Champion of CONjuration’?
Enchantment Net – The Internet and Magical Fandom
The Internet has given a new voice to fandom. From the origins of fan contact via newsletters and fanzines to the earliest BBS’s of the 790’s, 80’s, and early 90’s, the need for fans to share ideas, information, and opinion has always been strong. We explore what the internet has to offer and encourage the audience to share their own personal discoveries from the ‘net.
Severus Snape as the Classic Tragic Hero
Aristotle wrote that the tragic hero has to be a man “who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice but by some error or frailty.” In Shakespeare, tragedy is in large part caused by a flaw in character and/or misjudgment. In Harry Potter, Severus Snape can be seen as a tragic hero, though he is not the main character, his misjudgment is vital to the entire story. Did Severus Snape’s love of the dark arts overshadowed his love of Lily Evans when he called her a “mudblood” to impress his friends? Was he seeking the power that he lacked while in school when he shared the prophecy with Lord Voldemort? Is he showing remorse for these errors and willingly taking on a very dangerous role to save all that is left of Lily Evans, her son Harry? The tragic hero has one major flaw and the audience usually feels sympathy, empathy, and compassion toward him. This panel will discuss Snape as that classic hero.
Wednesday is Gay Night at the Three Broomsticks (or the Not-so-closeted Life of Albus Dumbledore)
Now we know the truth about Dumbledore’s sexuality but we don’t know if he ever dated after his teenage heartbreak. Did the great headmaster lived a closeted life or was he more open with the other adults around him? Was he, as is entertained by some, too spiritual to be sexual? Would Dumbledore be any less powerful if he were involved in a serious relationship? This panel will be an open discussion regarding sexuality at Hogwarts – in regards to the teachers and other adults. The students couldn’t have been the only ones having romantic trysts in the Room of Requirement. Perhaps a few teachers found their way too. Let’s explore the idea that Hogwarts was like any other school – full of hot gossip and even steamier adult relationships!
This panel will discuss how ancient mythology is retold in new stories. Why does mythology still resonate with today’s readers? How were the ancient storytellers able to invent such fantastic creatures that have lasted for thousands of years? Join us in learning about these ancient beast, how they lasted the centuries, and why they are still being used today!