"Visibility is a Trap": Analyzing the Levels of the Foucauldian Panoptic Gaze in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series
Crystal Lake (Committee Member), Barry Milligan (Committee Member), Andrew Strombeck (Advisor)
Master of Arts (MA)
The structures of power in the Potter universe are both evident and insidious. Whether one considers the disciplinary influences enforced by Headmaster and mentor Albus Dumbledore; The Ministry of Magic's Fudge, Umbridge, and Scrimgeour; or, the power watching over them all: Voldemort, J.K. Rowling presents a world marked by surveillance and self-policing in her Harry Potter novels. These three levels of the Panoptic Gaze discipline Harry in various ways that ultimately result in producing him as a self-sacrificing hero at the series' close. Rowling depicts an individual completely shaped by the authoritative gazes that inhabit his world; even the freedom he finds from those gazes is possible only because the gazes have created such spaces for him. In a series that seems to promote choice and agency for the day's youth, one finds that in fact the hero has been trapped in his role since the night he received his lightning-bolt shaped scar.
Department or Program
Department of English Language and Literatures
Year Degree Awarded
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