Special issues:

Literature and Linguistics (Vol. 1 No. 2); Literature and Violence (Vol. 3 Nos. 1-2)

Women, Consumption and Popular Culture (Vol. 4 No. 1); Life, Community, and Ethics (Vol. 4. No. 2)

The Making of Barbarians in Western Literature (Vol. 5 No. 1); Chaos and Fear in Contemporary British Literature (Vol. 5 No. 2)

Taiwan Cinema before Taiwan New Wave Cinema (Vol. 6 No. 1); Catastrophe and Cultural Imaginaries (Vol. 6 No. 2)

Affective Perspectives from East Asia (Vol. 9 No. 2); Longing and Belonging (Vol. 10 No. 2, produced in collaboration with the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies)

Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations, 1776 to the Present (Vol. 11 No. 2). 


In this article, I argue that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series illustrates a positive way to embrace postmodern culture and to reassess the past with a critical mind while nourishing the culture that we are creating here and now. Rowling’s portrait of Harry as an alternative kind of hero parodies the masculine tradition of heroism. Simultaneously, Rowling warns the media, audience and readers against hailing and stereotyping Harry as a traditional hero. By modelling the villain Voldemort’s life on a heroic quest and emphasising the biographical similarities between him and Harry, Rowling allows her teenage protagonist Harry to choose a different path to heroism, i.e., not through violence, conquest or murder. Although he endorses the positive, lenient patriarchy represented by Dumbledore, Harry does not become his duplicate. In this way, Rowling advocates Harry’s distancing himself from the benevolent fatherly Dumbledore, as she often shows to readers how Harry becomes a more competent individual when he cannot or does not receive Dumbledore’s help. Meanwhile, Rowling also shows to readers Harry’s suffering from the incongruity between his everyday experience of self and his publicised heroic image. By contrasting Harry with the true attention-seeker Lockhart, Rowling also highlights the substantiality of Harry’s heroism. The series thus urges its readers to see beyond the signs and commodities clustered in today’s life.

KEYWORDS: alternative heroism, postmodern age, consumerist society, children’s literature 

摘 要

對於 J.K.羅琳的哈利波特系列造就的讀者狂熱現象, 多數學者已提出具體的負面批評。相對於這些負面批評, 筆者意圖藉由文本分析,並強調此系列產出的年代脈絡, 對此一狂熱現象做出另一種詮釋與解讀。筆者強調此系列 能引起讀者共鳴之因或許是此系列能與當代社會,即後現 代進入全球化的社會,形成回應、對話與反思的關係。筆 者認為 J.K.羅琳打造的魔法世界非與當代社會截然不同的異 次元世界,而是類似後現代社會中帶有後現代主義色彩的 拼貼世界,將悠久傳統與科技創新並置,而主人翁哈利波 特在其中的成長過程,則暗示讀者能與當代社會形成一種 積極主動的關係。筆者強調此系列尤其著重探討至今仍為 人著迷的英雄主義迷思。藉由呈現主人翁哈利如何在魔法 世界成為另類英雄人物,J.K.羅琳不僅質疑傳統的英雄形塑 過程,也批判大眾媒體如何營造英雄假象。J.K.羅琳強調主 人翁哈利如何將自己與傳統英雄人物與媒體傳頌的英雄做 區分,因而能在時代潮流中找到自主的聲音與自身的價 值。因此,與其一昧的接受後現代社會各式的文化衝擊, 讀者也能在其中找尋自己的主體性,成為另類英雄。