A Harry Potter Course In Bengal Law School? You Read That Right

We caught up with the professor who pitched the course to find out how Harry Potter and law are even related!

Published06 Nov 2018, 03:21 AM IST
2 min read

The West Bengal National University Of Juridicial Sciences (WBNUJS) is set to start a new course based on JK Rowling’s magnum opus Harry Potter from the next term.

Don’t believe it? We didn’t either! So, we caught up with Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha, the mastermind behind this course, to tell us more.

How did this idea occur to you?

At our university we get brilliant students coming for their legal education. These people are the ones who are later going to be policy makers, litigators, judges and so on. They undertake a rigorous course of 5 years, 50 courses, but a lot of these courses talk about the black letter of law and look at at an act or legislation from a purely legal perspective.

Somewhere I believe that we are not doing everything that we can to encourage critical thinking. So, I thought why not come up with a situation which will take the students a little out of the regular course that they study.

This course is not meant to be a replacement for those studies. It’s a supplement. And hence the decision to do something different.

But how are law and Harry Potter even related?!

Harry Potter in itself shows a reflection of Rowling’s own struggles with law. She has kept on narrating the different limitations of law and legal institutions throughout Potterverse. For example, that of a government which is not democratic in nature, that of a judiciary which is not independent or that of a media which is controlled by the government. It talks about where due process in not followed and a lot of other things.

If they (students) can look into these kinds of fictional situations from the perspective of the legal principles they have imbibed over the years, there is no reason why they can’t do it in a real world scenario which is alien to them.

Many, however, are saying that this course is not “serious enough” for law school...

I had disseminated the course outline amongst the students and apparently everyone loved it. Then they kept sharing this with their friends across the law school circuit. Not everybody looks at it very kindly. That is bound to happen. Not everybody thinks this is a course which is serious enough to be taught in a law school. A lot of people think that this is about easy grades. But the only problem with that is my students are aware of the fact that I do not have a reputation of being an easy grader.

Finally, how many times have YOU read the series? And which is your favourite book?

I’ve read each of the books at least 10 times.  In fact, there used to be a period of time when I used to read all of the books at least once a year! It is a little unfair to ask which my favourite book is. They are all my favourites. But I think if I have to choose, it would be the first book – the first time I got introduced to the Harry Potter Universe.

And yes, I can also say that I like the books much, much better than the movies!

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