Playing [with] multiple roles: Readers, authors, and characters in "Who Is Blaise Zabini?"

Anne Collins Smith

Abstract


Fans who produce fan works in genres such as fiction, music, and music video take on dual roles in the process, as readers of the original canon and as creators of their own products. These roles—and more—are creatively explored in the Parselmouths' wizard rock composition "Who Is Blaise Zabini?". Like many works of fan fiction, the Parselmouths' songs move beyond a reader's ordinary role, taking on an authorial role to generate new characters and events in the Harry Potter universe. What makes this particular work unusual is that at the same time that they are adopting the roles of authors, and even of participants, the Parselmouths also restrict their own authorial and participatory power, claiming that the Slytherin characters they portray could not perceive their classmate Blaise Zabini until J. K. Rowling provided a complete description of him. To untangle their multiple roles and to recognize the creativity exercised by the Parselmouths in collapsing the boundaries among them, it will be helpful to turn to a theory of audience response that delineates specific roles and that specifies the limitations and the powers inherent in them.

Keywords


Harry Potter; Philosophy of literature; Wizard rock

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