A Burning Idea - Spring 2019 Course

A COPLAC Digital Distance Learning Course

Author: aultman (page 1 of 2)

Avery – GCSU – Project Contract Defense

After reviewing our contract in relation to our finished website, I would say that we met the majority of our goals. For points we were not able to meet exactly, I would say that our alternatives usually satisfied the same goals, or that they otherwise worked in service to our overarching design objectives.

We aspired to create a site which maximized visual diversity and interactivity, but not at the cost of readability or accessibility. While our initial estimate of “one or more visuals per section/subsection” proved to be overambitious, major sections did make use of consistent visuals and embedded tools. In some instances, we actually avoided including visuals as a stylistic decision. Our “home” section, and some parent pages like “the cases” or “‘real witchcraft’ in the 21st century,” were intended to be simple and direct. At one point, we considered incorporating buttons to link to each individual section of our site on our homepage, but decided that it would ultimately be an unnecessary feature, and that it might undermine the sequence of each section in our header menu, which we felt was intuitive. Sections which were dependent on context relied heavily on user engagement, making use of short video clips, clickable content, framing questions, and the expectation of user input to personally connect the user to the social and religious context of the Mallory case. Our use of aesthetics was consistent throughout the site, a point which came up repeatedly in peer review. We doubled down on this idea by limiting the use of bright colors on our site where possible.

Our division of labor did function mostly according to the terms of our contract. I was primarily responsible for the home page, context pages, and the formatting of the “about us” section, while Olivia worked almost exclusively on the “cases,” “Harry Potter in the US,” and “Additional materials” sections as well as interview transcription. The one exception to our contract in this regard was Olivia’s “incorporation of primary/secondary sources” task, which we pursued individually while working on each of our sections. Point of contact responsibilities and equipment management were mostly irrelevant, though Olivia did satisfy our space for a second interviewee in the form of Dana Kling. On a similar note, our expected list of digital tools did prove effective, with the exception of Thinglink which we replaced with Genially, a free alternative which ended up contributing some needed variety, and Visme, which was made irrelevant by Genially.

Our expected page arrangement went through some significant revisions which were often the result of changes to our overarching project goals, as well as developments in our understanding of the case. As we began to develop a clearer focus on the correlation between censorship and fundamentalism, we cut some extraneous material, and as we experimented with WordPress and received commentary, we found more effective ways to arrange and divide certain pages. Some changes to our pages were superficial, like framing a page on Caryl Matrisciana as “perceptions” of Wicca, while others were substantive, like substituting a “case outcome” section for a less holistic “significance” section.

Our least successful contract element was undoubtedly our expected timeframe. Producing a rough outline of our completed site took well over our target date of April 8th. This led to further complications regarding our other deadlines, particularly our April 12th copyright review and April 22nd peer review. In general, I attribute this to circumstances outside of class, but also to issues with accessibility, which slowed the process of acquiring sources and often compelled us to change the direction and scope of our project.

Progress Update: Peer Review and some Loose Ends

Having now annotated the SUNY Geneseo site, I am more optimistic about our own product, and about opportunities for improvement during this last stretch. Writing feedback for the Golden Compass project helped to place our overall progress, the scope of our original analysis, and the level of interactivity on display on our site into context. In that sense, while I still feel that we are lacking slightly in interactivity in relation to our contract, I would argue that given what we were able to obtain from actors involved in our cases, too much additional interactivity would only serve to detract from the site’s accessibility, sequencing, and content. Thankfully, the Geneseo site has left me with some valuable ideas for our site’s homepage and “about” section, two of our more maligned sections after our peer-review session.

I’ve looked over our peer-review in full, and I’m pleased with the feedback we received. While at times not as in-depth as I’d hoped, it mostly concentrated on sections I had not expected, which is enlightening. From this, I feel that I have a greater sense of how the site is explored organically, and I feel that we will have a clearer idea of which sections we should concentrate on as we are nearing the end of our revision process. I’m delighted that Olivia’s pictures of J.C. Magill Elementary School seem to have the intended response, and that the mood of the site seems to be in line with our overarching themes. Hopefully, we can secure the rights to an image of Mallory, as very few exist, and of those few, the majority have been watermarked by photographers who are seemingly inactive. I’m unsure about our reviewers’ recommendation to eliminate the “Case Outcome” page entirely, as we are already drafting a section on the case’s significance. Perhaps we will rename the section something along the lines of “Significance,” and use it as a space to explain how Mallory’s case related to censorship in general, something I feel that we have shifted slightly away from in favor of social context. I’m hoping that some additional scrutiny by way of our instructors’ feedback on the 17th will enable us to clear up any potential problems we may still have with some of the more dense sections of the site, like my context subsections.

On that same note, considering that we have been unable to reach an agreement with the Pagan Federation on a potential interview, I will be supplementing my section on Wiccan autonomy and self-identification with a short section in a 2004 broadcast of NPR’s All Things Considered involving teenagers and Wicca specifically, which I hope will allow me to incorporate American voices, as well as voices outside of any religious organization. If possible, it would be nice if I could embed this material on the page to break up its monotony, but I imagine it would be difficult to secure hosting rights. I’ve also come across an older page of essays from young Wiccans which would fill the same role.

Progress Report: Drafting & Some Concerns

While we have run into some formatting roadblocks, an early draft of the Gwinnett County case site is now available. Regarding the contextual portions I have been working on, my feelings are mixed. I am generally pleased with the amount of content on display, and feel that I’ve been able to relate it to our main subject, Laura Mallory, consistently. Moreover, in the process of writing context, it has not been difficult to connect these Harry Potter challenges to Wicca and the Religious Right, it’s clear based on surrounding materials that these issues were related in very conspicuous ways. That said, the prospect of lowering the reading level of the material makes me anxious, and I am worried about how it will affect the text’s flow, readability, and information density. The landscape theme, while initially meeting our expectations, has proved frustrating to work with in the long term, due to its lack of customizability and strange formatting rules. I expect that we will need to find a way to more clearly telegraph our use of hyperlinks, and that we will unfortunately have to contend with titles being presented in bold by default, as I do not believe that this problem can be solved with any kind of plugin. It may be to our benefit to fall back on other methods of linking to different webpages, like buttons, widgets, or extended options in our navigation menu.

Wikimedia Commons has proved to be a very useful source of images related to the context of this case, and I have yet to run into any problems with attribution. I am having difficulty determining how images should be arranged on each page, however, and even where I do have a clear layout in mind, it is difficult to work with the editor. I expect that this problem will be resolved after peer review. In anticipation of that review process, I feel that we are currently lacking in interactivity and diversity of content, given the emphasis on each in our contract. Much of this has to do with the fact that we were unable to work with certain materials, like Matrisciana’s documentary, in ways we had initially planned. This is by no means an insurmountable issue, we will simply need to focus on our existing content, presenting it in a more interactive format instead of supplementing it with additional content. I would like to see what issues our peers hone-in on specifically, but in any case, I am currently intent on compressing our contextual information. Finally, while I can offer very little specific feedback on this issue, several of our pages, namely our section on the significance of the material, simply require more content. I expect that neither of us have focused heavily on background information and presentation (about pages, the site’s title page, the title itself, etc) because we have been working exclusively with our peers, but considering that we are nearing the end of the course, we will need to prioritize these to ready the site to stand as an independent, fully realized product.

I am also concerned about a problem which I had not anticipated: the issue of considerate language in respect to practicing Wiccans. My abrupt encounter with the Pagan Federation has left me concerned that they may have been offended by the content of the site, and while our ultimate obligation is to a broad audience of non-pagans, I do intend to review the content with respect to the organization’s information on neo-paganism and Wicca.

Response: “Witchcraft Repackaged”

While I’m waiting for email responses from the Pagan Federation UK (a possible interview candidate), and Chick Publications (regarding usage rights on select portions of “The Nervous Witch,” a Chick Tract), I thought that a good use of this post would be to analyze Caryl Matrisciana’s Witchcraft Repackaged, the 2001 documentary on the Occult which supposedly inspired many of Mallory’s radical sentiments. While the documentary is still sold by various fundamentalist Christian outlets, the entirety of the film has been released on YouTube.

The most notable aspect of the film in relation to the Mallory case is the extent to which it actually engages with Rowling’s books. Where Mallory’s observations were often entirely and intentionally devoid of context, at the very least, Matrisciana’s script verges on misinterpretation; she attempts to justify most of her allegations using the text. For instance, around seventeen minutes into the documentary, in order to support the claim that “there are the concepts of Mother Goddess,” a supposed inversion of the Biblical trinity in Wicca communities based on fertility and motherhood, “being taught,” Matrisciana cites the “sacrificial death” of Harry’s mother as a symbolic representation of this tenant, and a means of communicating it to the audience. Shortly after this, Matrisciana explores the idea of “shape-changing” by noting that Harry’s father “appears as a stag, the horned god.” This complicates the notion that by not actually reading the books, Mallory had no exposure to Rowling’s content. Rather, Mallory would have at least had a cursory understanding of the material, albeit a targeted understanding specifically intended to provoke Christian fundamentalists.

Another significant aspect of the film is that it seems to concern young audiences exclusively. The documentary is not intended for a general audience; it is clear that the film is directed at the parents of young children. The introductory section during the first seven minutes explores occult imagery in media targeting young audiences, namely teen magazines like Bliss, and shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The narrator repeatedly uses words and phrases which imply deception and the threat of corruption, constructing an image of religious esotericists as antagonistic predators practicing “mind altering techniques of self-hypnosis” in “dimly lit parlors or new age fairs,” but also increasingly in “bookstores, on the internet, in public schools and libraries, and throughout the media.” Beginning nine minutes in, the film also presents an MSNBC interview with fundamentalist parent Steve Mounce, for whom the issue of Harry Potter was both a moral issue and an issue of personal autonomy. Mounce stated, “I think the merit in what [J.K. Rowling] said is that they are evil books, I think parents can make a decision on whether they want their children to read these books.” The decision to reproduce the full interview, an uninterrupted five minute clip with no additional commentary provided, hints at the importance of Mounce’s position in the framing of the film as a concerned parent.

Lastly, the film repeatedly stresses that Witchcraft, Paganism, and particularly Wicca are real religious practices in a cultural and legal sense, comparable to any mainstream religion. The point that Wiccans have historically obtained tax-exempt status in lower courts throughout the United States as well as the observation that military bases have occasionally staffed Wicca chaplains are each addressed several times over the course of the film. Moreover, while it is difficult to determine the extent to which evangelical figures chosen to appear in the film actually believed in the possibility of real magic, and the extent to which they were instead discussing that possibility in a metaphorical sense, several distinguished between Rowling’s “latin words,” and “legitimate rituals and spells” taught by professionals. Speaking on the dangers of Witchcraft, one male figure shown in the film stated, “Many youth, including Christian youth, do not see the danger in Witchcraft … they do not know that they are opening doors in their life to spirits, which will come in and create very compulsive behaviors.”

Interview Follow-Up: Dr. Lisa Eickholdt

Overall, I’m satisfied with the Eickholdt interview, and I feel that it met our expectations in terms of producing a clearer picture of Mallory’s opposition in Gwinnett County. We learned that Dr. Eickholdt was not only a Professor of Education, but a former childhood literacy coach and “reading specialist” working with books like Harry Potter at the elementary level. While she was not working at JC Magill at the time of the case, her occupation remains significant because it suggests that she would have been highly conscious of challenges to children’s literature in her community, and also very familiar with literary censorship in general. Her work as an educator, and more specifically a literacy coach for “aspiring readers,” seemed to give her a different perspective on both the case and the material being challenged, as she repeatedly described censorship as a threat to marginalized groups. The interview also revealed that Dr. Eickholdt was asked by members of her school’s staff to attend the hearing as a professional representative of the Gwinnett County school district: a key detail when considering her role in the hearing, given that she did not approach the hearing entirely on her own accord.

Dr. Eickholdt’s details of the hearing itself were mostly in line with available articles, but she did provide some subtle details which could prove useful. She briefly established that Mallory was not alone in the courtroom, and that she had “people there to support her,” suggesting that Mallory’s support network was perhaps not as strictly digital as we had previously assumed. Dr. Eickholdt also recalled an interesting anecdote about one concerned mother’s account of her child’s “possession” which will likely make for a striking quote or soundbite. Furthermore, Dr. Eickholdt confirmed that the community response to the challenge was somewhat limited. She suggested that the school board may have been attempting to “under-play” the hearing, and made it clear that the hearing “was not big.”

Having reviewed the interview in full, I am able to conclude that we should attempt to improve the audio quality of all interviews if possible, or simply include full transcripts below any embedded footage. We had hoped that Zoom’s default recording software would be sufficient, and while it does capture clear audio, it seems to stutter occasionally. The remaining footage is understandable, but lacks consistent quality. In retrospect, some of our questions may have also appeared extraneous, and several failed to provide any relevant information related to our case, as with our concluding question in this interview regarding the subject’s advice on how to respond to book challenges in one’s community. While it is worth considering how a question like this may lead to a more relevant line of questioning in practice, for our next interview with Gwinnett County educator Dana Kling, we should attempt to limit our use of questions which are only tangentially related to the cases at hand.

Progress Report III – Gwinnett County Cases

While recent deadlines have encouraged Olivia and I to reach some essential project milestones very quickly, at this stage I have noticed some very visible opportunities for improvement that our team should seek to address moving forward. Our site is beginning to take shape, and I am personally pleased with the “landscape” WordPress theme, as I feel that it best represents our intent for the site’s final design. Header images on each page dominate much of the available space in the initial frame before the user attempts to scroll down, as I had hoped, and from what Olivia has already contributed, I expect that the inclusion of large text-based entries will not detract too heavily from the site’s mood or style. I predict that we may run into problems with consistency, given our divided workloads and familiarity with different citation formats, and it may behoove us to compose a brief style-guide to direct our formatting decisions. Our current navigation subtitles seem overly direct, but I feel that this issue will be resolved naturally over the course of our editing, as we determine precisely what content should be confined to its own subcategory, and as we begin to represent our theme more clearly.

Our first interview with Dr. Eickholdt went well after some minor technical problems, and moving forward I do not believe we will run into any trouble with further interviews, nor do I foresee any problems with transcription. I do expect that we may have limited access to other promising interview candidates moving forward, given that I have already contacted Gwinnett County’s legal representative in multiple cases through various channels, and have received no response. Olivia has arranged to interview one of her former K-12 teachers, presumably as an authority on censorship in K-12 schools, and I believe this retreat away from figures directly involved in the case may be the most effective use of our limited time before our self-imposed interview deadline.

Working with TimelineJS has helped us to understand where our wide variety of articles about the case are effective in producing a complete profile of events involving Mallory, and where they fall short. Omission has greatly hindered our understanding of Mallory’s original challenges to Harry Potter at JC Magill Elementary School, though we do know based on Mallory’s own account that her first formal challenge was issued in August of 2005. Acquiring copies of the original challenges, provided they are still available, will contribute greater specificity to this early period in the case study. That said, points like the Gwinnett County School Board Hearing on April 20th, 2006 are already covered in great detail, having been both highly visible and easily accessible to the public, and it may be to our benefit to shift our focus onto more esoteric moments like the 2007 Superior Court hearing.

While I hope to possibly obtain an interview with Gwinnett Superior Judge Ronnie Bachelor, the judge assigned to the aforementioned case, in the meantime, I will focus my energies on site-design.

Report on Interview Preparations – Dr. Lisa Eickholdt

Over the past week, Olivia and I have prepared to interview Dr. Lisa Eickholdt, an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville. While it’s unclear what position she held at the time based on our existing context, Dr. Eickholdt reportedly served as “a witness for the school board” during the Gwinnett County Superior Court hearing, the fourth of Laura Mallory’s successive attempts at challenging the Harry Potter series, and she features prominently in the Loganville Tribune’s interview with Mallory in June of 2007. While we would like to hear from someone with a closer connection to the cases before we exceed our deadline, we are hoping that Dr. Eickholdt will help us better construct a kind of profile of Mallory’s opposition, in the sense that she represented an argument against Mallory’s challenge to the texts. According to the interview, Eickholdt’s admission that she had “read the books aloud to children with reading difficulties” was a key element in Mallory’s assertion that the books “were being used as [an instructional] text.”

We have been fortunate that Dr. Eickholdt’s current position as a college professor has streamlined the interview process, providing us with an active and publicly available email at which to reach her, as well as a general idea of her regular schedule. To prepare for the interview, Olivia and I drafted several open-ended questions pertaining to Eickholdt’s role in the Mallory cases, her background in education, and her place in the local community. We were unfortunately constrained by Eickholdt’s limited memory of specific events during the hearing, given that it took place almost a decade ago, and we chose to focus accordingly on more general questions related to her initial impressions of Mallory, the hearing, and literary censorship as a whole. Taken together, our available articles seem to indicate that Gwinnett county citizens were mostly opposed to Mallory’s challenge; we are hoping that a series of questions regarding Eickholdt’s personal identity will help better define the contrast between Mallory and the wider community, giving us a clearer understanding of why and how she continually opposed the local consensus. Moreover, we are hoping that Eickholdt will recall enough about the superior court hearing that we will be able to construct an adequate sequence of events based on her account, as few detailed written accounts seem to currently exist beyond curated news articles.

When I originally emailed Dr. Eickholdt I was considered the primary point-of-contact and executor of this portion of the project. Given that our current project contract does allow for a degree of flexibility in determining which of us conducts interviews, and given that I will be unavailable during Dr. Eickholdt’s free time, as of now Olivia will be conducting this interview on Thursday pending Eickholdt’s consideration. This works to our credit in maintaining separate research topics and an equitable balance of labor, considering that our contract sees Olivia working primarily with Gwinnett county contacts, where my focus is prescribed to be mainly analytical. In any case, the results should be similar, given that we have both contributed to our baseline interview questions.

Report on Expert/Specialist Meetings – GC&SU

It has been around one month since I met with GC&SU research librarian Jolene Cole to discuss the Mallory case. In retrospect, it may have proved more beneficial to attend a meeting closer to the midpoint of the semester, as my knowledge of the case at the time was somewhat limited, likely leaving it difficult for Cole to offer pointed feedback. In any case, much of her early advice has remained relevant. At the time, Cole encouraged our group to compare our Gwinnett County case against other challenges to Harry Potter in the United States, one of several factors which later influenced our decision to place the case in a national framework based on the rise of a broad Religious Right, rather than a regional framework based more specifically on southern cultural homogeneity. Her observation that many of these national cases centered similarly around the theme of witchcraft led us to view the Gwinnett case through a lens of religious identity, which led naturally into the topic of the formation of a conservative Christian coalition from the 1970s to the present, given the case’s timeframe. This early consultation, ultimately, fell short of my expectations on both primary source leads and secondary information, but I recognize that the intent of the meeting was mainly to determine if our chosen topic, one of three at the time, was viable.

Shortly after the meeting with Jolene Cole, I contacted Dr. James Welborn, an academic historian specializing in the development of southern identity, via email, intending to build on the context surrounding our newly acquired topic. Specifically, I requested “any articles/books that would be useful for placing this case in the context of turn-of-the-century southern morality, religious fundamentalism, localism, etc.,” anticipating, based on references to biblical literalism in the summary of the state appellate hearing, that the case would pertain to 20th century southern evangelism. He promptly responded with a list of articles involving both the rise of the Religious Right around the “turn of the twenty-first century,” as well as “works that focus on the rise of fundamentalism in the U.S. South around the turn of the 20th century … many of which chart the evolution of such thinking well into the 1900s.” A full list of provided sources will be attached as a post-script for the sake of clarity, but among these, those that focus predominantly on the moral character of fundamentalism and common community-building strategies within the national fundamentalist sphere, like Michael Lienesch’s “The Drama at Dayton,” or Daniel K. Williams “Moral Majority,” have proved instrumental in contextualizing the way in which Mallory, who was functionally a fringe outsider receiving a minimal amount of immediate community support, engaged with what was essentially a united-front of academic freedom argumentation in favor of allowing continued access to the Harry Potter series. I have not consulted further with Dr. Welborn
in any structured capacity following this initial consultation, and his lack of direct familiarity with the case at hand would likely render any potential interview unnecessary, but regardless, his expert advice has also been instrumental in providing our project with direction, and guiding us towards a sufficient historiographic base.

Post Script: List of Relevant Secondary Sources Provided by Dr. James Welborn

Turn of 21st Century:


1) “What Is the Christian Right?” in Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics by Clyde Wilcox & Carin Robinson

2) “Religion, Race, and the Right in the South, 1945-1990” by Paul Harvey & “The Religious Right and Electoral Politics in the South” by Charles S. Bullock III & Mark C. Smith in Politics and Religion in the White South edited by Glen Feldman

3) “Moral Majority” & “Reagan” in God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right by Daniel K. Williams

4) “Advance and Retreat in the Palmetto State: Assessing the Christian Right in South Carolina” by C. Danielle Vinson & James L. Guth in The Christian Right in American Politics: Marching to the Millennium edited by John C. Green, Mark J. Rozell, & Clyde Wilcox (GAVIEW)

19th/20th centuries:

1) “Holiness” in Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 by George M. Marsden

2) “The Evolution of Plain-Folk Religion in the South, 1835-1920” by David Edwin Harrell in Varieties of Southern Religious Experiences edited by Samuel S. Hill

3) “Preface,” “Defining Fundamentalism,” & “Conclusion: Southern Fundamentalists” in Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, 1900-1950 by William Robert Glass

4) “Take Away the Serpents from Us: The Sign of Serpent Handling and the Development of Southern Pentecostalism” by Michael J. McVicar in The Journal of Southern Religion, Vol. 15, 2013;

5) “The Drama at Dayton” in In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial, and the Making of the Antievolution Movement by Michael Lienesch

6) “Fundamentalism in Recent Southern Culture: Has It Done What the Civil Rights Movement Couldn’t Do?” by Samuel S. Hill in Southern Crossroads: Perspectives on Religion and Culture edited by Walter H. Conser Jr. & Rodger M. Payne (GAVIEW)


Progress Report II – 2006 Gwinnett County Case

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.

Progress Report II – 2006 Gwinnett County Case

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.

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