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“Roughly the size and weight of a young killer whale”: A Study of Anti-fat Attitudes in J. K Rowling’s Harry Potter Series and How Teachers Can Work With Literature to Bring This Subject to Light.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The World Health Organisation stated that as of 2016 over 400 million children are regarded as being obese. As this number climbs, anti-fat attitudes affect more children and young adults than ever before and it is the responsibility of adults and teachers to stop this negative spiral. The magical story of Harry Potter’s life has been read by millions, and soon the generation who grew up alongside Harry Potter and his friends will have children of their own and share this story with a new generation. But this magical world is not so different from our own and it mirrors similar ideas and prejudices as the world we live in. This thesis focuses on showing the anti-fat prejudices that exist within the novels, with focus on the character Dudley Dursley. He is the cousin of Harry Potter and is reduced to not much more than a mean boy who throughout the books gains more and more weight, but who is depicted as a pig already at the age of eleven.

The essay also discusses how teachers can teach their students about oppression without creating an unsafe environment for their overweight students. Teaching about the structures that enable oppression—through choosing literature that challenges children’s negative views on overweight people, instead of teaching about the oppressed group themselves—is shown to be preferable when trying to change the way students treat their peers. The Harry Potter series itself has been written with anti-fat sentiments used as a way to create comic situations. Therefore it can be hard to use in a constructive way for the purpose of bringing the question of fatphobia to light in an education context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 17
Keywords [en]
Harry Potter, anti-fat attitudes, fatphobia, othering, pedagogy, oppression, anti-oppressive education, inclusion, fantasy
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Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-152287OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-152287DiVA, id: diva2:1178624
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Available from: 2018-09-18 Created: 2018-01-30 Last updated: 2018-09-18Bibliographically approved

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