April 01, 2019

Students standing for a photo

Two Catholic University students placed third in a research conference with their paper on “How Dumbledore Saved Europe.”

“Both of us have been lifelong Harry Potter fans, so intense topics like this inside the wizard world were something we had always had fun discussing together,” said Natalie Rice, a senior French and Francophone Studies and Mathematics major who wrote a joint research paper with her friend Emma Pederson, a senior International Business and German Studies major. Last semester in a class discussing French nationalism, the topic of “the greater good” reminded Rice about the themes in Harry Potter. “I brought the idea home to Emma and we decided almost instantly that we were going to do it!”

Pederson and Rice won third place in the Tenth Annual MadRush Undergraduate Research Conference at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where they presented their paper, “How Dumbledore Saved Europe: A Comparison of Fascist Rhetoric in European History and in the Harry Potter Franchises.” They will present a version of their paper at this year’s University Research Day on April 9.

Rice said that she and Pederson have both been long-time Harry Potter fans and would often discuss topics concerning the literary world.

“I was so excited when Natalie suggested the project, and we immediately started coming up with ideas,” Pederson said.  “As a big Harry Potter fan, I started making connections as soon as I started thinking about it, and this quickly became our passion project.”

The two said they learned much from the experience, both personally and about the research process. “Obviously, I learned that fascism is very present in the Harry Potter world and in the modern world as well,” Rice said. “I learned that research is vitally important and can be done in and across all fields, including the humanities.”

“We have been collaborating on this since October by researching, writing, and presenting together,” Pederson said. “Since the project was so large, it took a lot of planning and coordination over a longer time period than most of my other projects and gave us both an opportunity to improve our research and writing skills.”

University Research Day will be held on April 9, 2019. The day celebrates intellectual curiosity across disciplines with more than 250 graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and staff showcasing their research in poster and oral presentations, as well as interactive demonstrations. Learn more about Research Day here.

— Andrew Morgan, B.A. 2019, Marketing and Communications Intern. For more information, contact communications@cua.edu.