Forms of time and space in the Harry Potter universe: Or, the chronological impulse in fan communities

Daniel R. Smith

Harry Potter chronology… why?

After searching through a substantial amount of fan material on Harry Potter on various fan websites, I have found myself fascinated by the dedication of this community to develop an elaborate and well worked through chronology. Why do they do this? The dating of the Harry Potter series and the events covered, alluded to and existing outside the novels goes well beyond the necessity of being a ‘reader’ of the series. Just by way of example, the timeline on the Harry Potter Wiki site tells me that in 2785 boxes of Sugared Butterfly Wings at Honeydukes Sweetshop will go off for they were spotted in behind the scenes footage of the film version of Prisoner of Azkaban, whose events took place in 1993. It is not necessary to know this to ‘understand’ the story of Harry Potter, neither is it relevant to any other details of the narrative beyond the central storyline. The obsessive aspect of fan culture requires explanation; it simply cannot be understood from content alone, neither does a commitment to the series explain it. What is the power of the chronological impulse for a Potter fan? Continue reading