Students spend spring break studying Harry Potter in England

Members of the Harry Potter and Children’s Literature class travel across the pond for an immersive learning experience.

Over spring break, a combined group of 22 graduate and undergraduate students traveled with two professors to England, where they studied Harry Potter and Children’s Literature. The participants applied to join the class in November, and were selected by professors Emily Pendergrass and Elizabeth Self. They visited Oxfordshire and London to learn about the history and growth of children’s literature in the United Kingdom. The class had a special emphasis on the Harry Potter series and Roald Dahl’s novels. Over the course of six days, they experienced a wealth of English culture and history.

The students in this class first visited Oxfordshire, which was characterized by its rich history and picturesque setting.
Oxford University consists of forty different colleges, all of which have unique campuses like the one seen here.
Hardly anyone could resist stopping to stare at the pink cherry blossoms on High Street in Oxfordshire.
A group of students took a scenic walk through Oxford University’s Christ Church Meadow on their first day in England.
This was the staircase used to film the scene in first Harry Potter movie when the first-years are walking up to the great hall.
The class visited the Story Museum in Oxfordshire, where they immersed themselves in British children’s literature.
Their next stop the home of world-famous British author Roald Dahl, Great Missenden. Several of the students visited Dahl’s hillside grave.
While in Great Missenden, a few individuals decided to visit Matilda’s Library and read for a while.
Undergraduate student Malik Hollingsworth (left) said, “This trip in one word… lit! No, even better, two words… Children’s Lit!”
Others walked through the British National Gallery and observed centuries of famous artwork.
Before moving on to London, the class spent some time at the Roald Dahl Museum, where they got to exercise their creative muscles.
Upon arriving in the British capital city, the students took a “Muggle Tour” of all the London spots where parts of Harry Potter were filmed.
The Muggle Tour included King’s Cross station, where everyone had the chance to enter Platform 9 ¾.
Before crossing through to the Hogwarts Express, each witch and wizard donned a scarf with the colors of his or her Hogwarts House.
A couple of Vanderbilt undergraduates visited the Tower of London Museum, where they roamed the historic castle grounds.
Specially-trained military guards could be seen outside the home of the Crown Jewels.
From the Tower of London castles, the touring students had a perfect view of London’s blue-trimmed Tower Bridge.
One of the class’s final activities together was a tour of the studios where most of Harry Potter was filmed. Dumbledore’s office was one of the many sets that they walked through.
A copy of Advanced Potion-Making sat out on the table in the Potions classroom. It prompted one Vanderbilt freshman to comment that she wished she had the Half-Blood Prince’s book to help her pass General Chemistry.
The Hogwarts Express was ready to pull off when the students caught up to it and had a look inside.
Miranda Cross had to get a photo in front of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes in Diagon Alley, because she claimed that her red hair made her look like a member of the family.
Students had the opportunity to walk through Number 4, Privet Drive and see Harry’s cupboard.
One of the last movie sets the class viewed was Harry’s parents’ cottage. At the end of the day, Briana Achtman commented that “the Harry Potter Studio Tour was magical.”

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