A University of Alberta English professor specializing in the Harry Potter series and who teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the topic says the J.K. Rowling's stories are getting much more complex and hitting more issues.

"I truly believe that these books will have legs for a while," said Dr Raymond Jones who lectures in the Faculty of Arts. The next book in the series is due to be released on June 21 and is a third longer than the previous issue.

"Harry is growing up and the stories are looking at issues around his and other character's maturation."

"Whether these books will go down in history as classics or as cultural objects is the subject of much debate," Jones said.

Dr Jones began teaching graduate and undergraduate classes at the University of Alberta that looked at the Harry Potter series in early 2002. The courses were over subscribed, and while no one has yet written a dissertation on the topic, Jones said the subject was ripe for research. His undergraduate course was called "Harry Potter and the The Watchful Dragons: Moral and Social Values in Fantasy Literature for Children.

"We looked at things like Harry's moral status and the question of whether he was a bad role model or not and the way in which adults were portrayed in the novels. Harry was both powerful and victimized and as an orphan he had to earn his own identity," Jones explained.

Jones said where the story might go in the next installment of Harry Potter is the subject of much speculation although the author has dropped some hints.

"JK Rowling is, though, really is playing around with people's expectations," Dr Jones said.

for more information contact Wanda Vivequin on 780 492 3808

The U of A in Edmonton, Alberta is one of Canada's premier teaching and research universities serving more than 33,000 students with 6,000 faculty and staff. It continues to lead the country with the most 3M Teaching Fellows, Canada's only national award recognizing teaching excellence.

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