R.J. Anderson (rj_anderson) wrote,
R.J. Anderson
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Convention Alley -- The Full Scoop -- Part Two

Sorry for the delay on this, I was waiting for lydaclunas to post her account of things so I didn't overlap too much with hers, but then LJ ate her post and she hasn't rewritten it yet, so I'll do mine and she can fill in wherever she likes. I know she has at least one piece of incriminating evidence picture that I wasn't planning to include in my recap, for instance...

Anyway. On to Saturday morning, and the real beginning of Convention Alley!

I have a memory like a sieve, so I remember meeting a number of people at breakfast, but I can't remember all their names: however, I do recall meeting Yolanda, and Trista Merrill (one of the other presenters, who had her copy of her PhD thesis in tow -- how cool is it that she did a Pottercentric thesis?), and chatting with a guy named Robert and a blonde, bespectacled Hufflepuff so cute I wanted to adopt her. And, of course, we chattered away happily about all things Potter until it was time to go to the first session.

Not surprisingly, I'd already decided I was going to attend every Snape-related presentation the conference had to offer, so off I went with avarill and callyperry (lydaclunas having been lured away to another seminar by the prospect of discussing her sekrit boyfriend fic protagonist of choice Tom Riddle) to Stephanie Dutchen's Severus Snape: Romantic Byronic Hero or Unredeemable "Greasy Git"?. This seminar, and all the other Snape-related presentations at the convention, was delightfully introduced by logospilgrim in full Snapely garb:

The picture scarcely does the costume justice -- it's just perfect, as was the hair (her own hair, not a wig -- now that's dedication!). logospilgrim also stayed at the front (albeit to the side) and did appropriate Snapeish reactions to the various parts of the presentation, a strategy which certainly kept the audience attentive! Not that it wouldn't have been easy to pay attention anyway, because Stephanie proved to be an interesting and dynamic speaker.

When I first learned that Stephanie and I had both had our proposals accepted, I was fearful that there would be a lot of overlap, and I think she was worried about that too; but listening to her presentation, it was pleasantly clear to me that we had taken quite different approaches and were hardly going to step on each other's toes at all. Stephanie outlined for us the qualities of a certain type of Byronic hero, and showed how there were a great many parallels between the attributes and actions of these characters in Lord Byron's poetry and the things we know from HP canon about Snape. It was all quite fascinating, and really didn't (at least IMO) romanticize Snape unduly or stretch the point too far.

Afterward there was a general discussion, which I was in the middle of and quite enjoying when I glanced back to see sheryll urgently beckoning to me. I hurried up to talk to her, only to learn that Roslyn LaDrew, who had been scheduled to present during the next session, was still on the road, and would I mind doing my seminar next, in her place?

I hadn't exactly been prepared for that -- I'd been counting on presenting during the third session, after lunch and some free time -- and for a moment my brain just went *wkrstksft* (major House Points to anyone who gets that joke). But then I heard myself say, "Uh, yeah, sure," and a few minutes later was sprinting through the pouring rain, desperate to get back to my residence and grab my notes.

I had twenty minutes to cram before my presentation began, and I've seldom felt as nervous as I did then -- the sudden change of schedule threw me right off stride. When logospilgrim came up to ask how I was doing (I think she could tell I wasn't quite all there yet) I gripped her hand and said, "Pray for me."


Hee -- there is something funny about asking Snape to pray for you. But Nathalie was very sweet and encouraging, and I'm sure she did. In any case I certainly prayed, and while the feeling of breathless, throat-tightening nervousness didn't exactly go away, I was able to start the presentation and make my points in (I think) a reasonably lucid manner. I took up more time than I should have done -- there wasn't much left for the questions and audience participation segment -- but most of the attendees seemed to have talked themselves out in the previous Snape session and so there weren't a lot of questions or comments anyway. (Either that, or they were so appalled by my nerve in applying Christian theology to Snape's character arc that they didn't want to talk about it. You decide. *g*)

After I'd got through my presentation, the feeling of trembly breathlessness gradually eased, especially once I'd got some lunch down and had a relaxing chat with Stephanie and some other Snapefans. And then -- hey -- I could just lean back and enjoy the rest of the convention! Which I did, starting with Phyllis Morris's seminar in the early afternoon.

Phyllis was a fun, very enthusiastic and personable presenter, but a lot of her argument about Harry's destiny appeared to hinge on the idea that Harry is the Heir of Gryffindor, and I have to confess that even if I believed that were the case (which I'm not sure I do), I doubt that Rowling would put that much weight on heredity. It seems to me more like it's the bad guys who put all the emphasis on one's lineage and "purity of blood", whereas (as Dumbledore says) those on the good side are judged by their personal choices, not their ancestry.

However, Phyllis certainly threw out a lot of brain-stretching ideas, and I think the discussion after that particular seminar was the most lively and interesting of all the sessions I attended. I brought up the question of Neville's role in the prophecy and suggested, in line with something I'd read in another person's LJ (unfortunately, I can't remember which one: if anyone here knows, please let me know and I'll give credit where it's due), that Neville may be "the other" in the prophecy. Fawkes dropped a third tail feather at the end of OotP -- I really have no doubt that feather is going to end up in Neville's new wand (the first personal wand Neville's ever had), which means he too is capable of battling Voldemort as Harry did in GoF. Phyllis seemed to think that either Harry or Voldemort must die, and since Harry wouldn't commit murder that means Voldemort would kill Harry. But if Neville is a player in the final battle, and he dies or kills Voldemort... then Harry would survive. In any case, Phyllis gave us all lots to think about, whether we agreed with all her points or not.

The fourth session I attended was Janet Lynn Ayles's Balancing Right and Wrong: Rule-Breaking in the Harry Potter Novels, which is a subject of considerable interest to me seeing as it's one of the things I inevitably end up discussing with fellow Christians who are nervous about things they've heard about Harry's rule-breaking and disregard of authority, and whether he is a good "role model" for their children, etc. After the presentation, we had some more, um, interesting discussion -- but I know that lydaclunas had a few things to say about that, and I think I'll just let her elaborate. *evil grin*

The afternoon ended, for me at least, with Wendy Spiesman's small group discussion Dumbledore Trusts Severus Snape - Do You? -- only the group wasn't small by a long shot! I really thought that by this point people might be all Snaped out, but apparently not, and once more there was some lively debate, especially over the question of why Snape kept silent about Lupin's lycanthropy after the Prank. neotoma and sinick were particularly active in this discussion (not that I wasn't, too!), and we went round in circles for a while trying to pin down just exactly how Snape felt about Dumbledore, and what hold Dumbledore might have on Snape. Basically the discussion ended up dividing the room into two camps: one group who believed that Dumbledore must have bribed or blackmailed Snape into silence, and another (including myself) who felt that Snape might hold his tongue out of simple respect for Dumbledore and/or the conviction that as an outsider and an "oddball" in the school, his accusations against Lupin would not be believed.

It wasn't until we were on the way home in the van the next day that lydaclunas reminded me of Snape's life-debt to James, which I think is possibly the best explanation for Snape's silence -- if James held some sort of power or influence over Snape as a result of that debt, he might have been able to command Snape's silence no matter how much the latter cursed and ground his teeth. But we don't really know enough about the life-debt and how it works yet... still, there are all kinds of fascinating possibilities involved.

Hm, this is getting to be quite a long post, so perhaps I'll save Saturday evening and Sunday morning for Part Three. Stay tuned for The Truth About Steve Vander Ark, and more of callyperry's pictures!
Tags: characters, cons, hp, snape, theories
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