Danielle first designed the Christian Theology and Harry Potter course in the attic apartment of two professors during the summer of her final year as a graduate student at Yale because she wanted to forge a new way of teaching theology that made a topic close to her heart more accessible and exciting for students. Having followed the controversy about whether or not the Harry Potter series were heretical (and being an avid fan of the books herself), she thought a semester-long course on the intersection between Christian theology and the series would be the perfect solution!
Danielle first taught the class beginning on a freezing January afternoon in 2009. With more than 72 students lined up to enroll, it quickly became one of the most popular courses offered at the university. She has since repeated the class at Yale and has also brought it to Tufts University.
The central goal of the Christian Theology and Harry Potter class is to ask whether Rowling’s books support a Christian theological worldview, and if so, to what extent. To do answer that question, students read from a variety of theological texts from the Christian tradition, ranging from classic giants to more contemporary voices. Each week, students are assigned readings about a theological topic (like sin or evil) and alongside it, they read a section of the Harry Potter series that relates to that theme. During the course of the term, students are encouraged to come to their own conclusions about the relationship between Christianity and the series.
It later became the impetus for Danielle’s first book, God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom, which covers anecdotes from her time teaching at Yale as well as information about many of the themes taught in the course.
Danielle continues to speak about the relationship between theology and the Harry Potter series both in academic and less formal contexts. She chaired the American Academy of Religion panel on Harry Potter and religion, spoke at both the Portus and Infinitus symposiums, and continues to appear as a guest speaker at a variety of academic institutions and churches. She can also occasionally be found as a guest blogger for The Hog’s Head.
Danielle always enjoys a rousing conversation about the relationship between theology and the series.
She especially enjoys fans who dress up as Draco Malfoy for academic talks.