Sigma Tau Dela hosts “riddikulus-ly” long Harry Potter marathon


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Augustana’s English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta, hosted an eight-hour book marathon last Saturday in Siverson Lounge.

“The marathon event is an opportunity for the Augie community to spend a day celebrating a literary work,” said Abbie Sell, Sigma Tau Delta’s president. “We read a book out loud in one day, and anyone in the Augie community is invited to be a part of the day.”

Senior Sophie Geister-Jones reads during Sigma Tau Delta’s Harry Potter marathon. Photo by Olivia Verdick.

Students were invited to participate in reading aloud in one of the two mics for fifteen minutes, enjoy a couple snacks, pour a cup of coffee and listen to the spellbinding words of J.K. Rowling. 

With the first Harry Potter book published in 1997, many of the students at Augustana grew up with the series, raised with the knowledge of chocolate frogs, flying broomsticks and talking snakes, exciting them to the point that they were almost ‘petrified.’

“So many students grew up with Harry Potter, and I think it was a great book for them to read this year,” said English and journalism department head Dr. Janet Blank-Libra, Augustana’s own Professor McGonagall.

As Blank-Libra read aloud at the event, listeners were able to ‘‘dumble-adore’’ her, as well as over two dozen other Augustana Potter fans. Those who read aloud at the event were given a free copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The marathon ran most of the day starting at 9 a.m., enchanting listeners with the magic of the wizarding universe until 5 p.m. that evening. 

This ‘‘sirius-ly’’ long reading marathon is part of a tradition going on at Augustana for the past couple years, typically celebrating an individual book’s anniversary.

“The marathons are always fun, but in past years they have tackled more serious literary works like Slaughterhouse Five,” Sell said.

The playfulness of Harry Potter made for easy listening for those who chose to attend the event. Other books the society has read include: Paradise Lost by John Milton, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

 Professor Mitchell Harris, sponsor for Sigma Tau Delta, recalls the first year they read aloud John Milton’s poem, “Paradise Lost.”

 “It was a great experience for a poem to be heard in its entirety instead of broken in parts, which usually happens when studying literature,” Harris said. 

 Harry Potter may be a children’s book but many at Augustana couldn’t help but allow some of the Hogwarts world into their own. Staff at Augustana  even poked fun at each other to get into the spirit of the reading marathon.

Despite never having read Harry Potter himself, Harris said if he were to pick someone on campus to represent one of the many great characters of Harry Potter, he would choose journalism professor Dr. Jeffrey Miller as Lord Voldemort.  

Despite its students being muggles, Augie was able to make a home for the Potter universe. All jokes aside, the real magic of this event lies in the students who were able to take a day and praise literature for its compelling effects on readers.


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