The Laura Mallory case has not changed direction over the past few weeks, so much as it has changed scope. We have come across some articles that have greatly added to our understanding of Mallory’s intent in taking the case to court, and have begun working to determine our expectations for our site’s interface and design.
First, this interview with Mallory, originally published in the Loganville Tribune in June, 2007 and later shared on Mallory’s now-defunct blog, “His Voice Today,” serves as an important testimony from Mallory regarding her initial approach to the Harry Potter challenge in 2006, and opens several new avenues for research. According to Mallory herself, she had reportedly been told that “the principal told me anything in the libraries can be used in the classrooms,” with these claims confirmed (to some extent) by a witness for the Gwinnett County school board, Dr. Lisa Eickholdt. Mallory then stated that she “came across ‘Harry Potter — Witchcraft Repackaged — Making Evil Look Innocent,’ a video documentary by occult expert Cary Matriciana.” Further research confirms that the documentarian referenced by the interviewer was actually named Caryl Matrisciana, an anti-spiritualist evangelical filmmaker who died of cancer in 2016. Also notable is that Mallory references precedent in the form of an earlier Gwinnett County case, which we may be able to look into in order to establish an effective comparison to this particular case; Mallory stated, “we mentioned the 1985 case where ‘Deenie,’ by Judy Blume, was removed from the schools.” Lastly, it’s notable that Mallory explicitly stated, “our country was founded on Biblical values and beliefs, hence our nation’s amazing success,” and “there is an undeniable bias against Christianity today in our schools,” given that such statements give credence to our wider thematic focus: the entrenchment of the Religious Right. We have not yet explored Mallory’s blog thoroughly using Way Back Machine, but it will likely supply further information on Mallory’s own positions during this time. Naturally, we will also seek to obtain further information on the works of Caryl Matrisciana, using her filmography as a center point for our investigation into late 20th century, early 21st century anti-Wicca/anti-occult panic.
In terms of our site, Olivia and I are both in agreement on certain design elements, prior to any significant drafting. We both want to prioritize interactivity and rely predominantly on visuals. A couple of design choices from other websites that I feel would help us execute this vision are a locked navigation bar and large header images, which help connect the project to the theme in a consistent way that won’t detract from its academic significance. I’m also interested in possibly working on a “for students/teachers” section, with added reading and guided discussion questions. Our site’s heavy reliance on visuals will require additional camerawork, but after analyzing the University of Georgia’s “CSI: Dixie,” I realize we can supplement existing pictures of notable sites involved in the case with abstract shots relating to its overall setting, theme, and significance, which should provide an interesting creative challenge.
Finally, in terms of our current priorities, we’ve been dancing around obtaining primary sources. While we’ve managed to acquire enough material to likely construct an acceptable case study as-is, we should seek to obtain whatever primary material we can in the coming week, as primary case summaries and steganography would make the report considerably more engaging for prospective readers.