Multiform Magic: The Harry Potter Universe


J.K. Rowling and the “Pottermore” logo

Harry Potter is arguably the greatest narrative of this generation. The books, movies, spin-off texts, theme parks, merchandise, and website weave a complex transmedia story that has captivated fans world-wide. This is an example of a multiform story, a “narrative that presents a single situation or plotline in multiple versions,” as explained by author Janet H. Murray (Murray, 30). The most revolutionary of these extensions is J.K. Rowling’s website “Pottermore,” which, as the name implies, is everything fans love about Harry Potter and more. I believe the most interactive and engaging aspects of “Pottermore” are its world-building and additive comprehension components.

"Pottermore" Home Page

“Pottermore” Home Page

The fictional Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a complex, evolved society consisting of a government, history, schooling system, rules and regulations, numerous species, and limitless secrets. According to media scholar Henry Jenkins, this “encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers” because “we are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp” (Jenkins). There is history to study, creatures to discover, places to explore, and characters to connect with. “Pottermore” increasingly adds to this experience by taking pieces from Rowling’s writing and placing into the context to digital media. There are links and features to discover everything you can about these creatures hidden in various nooks and crannies of the website, urging fans to actively discover the secrets of the Wizarding World in a more personal manner than before.This world-building is an exceptionally brilliant way to engage both creators and audiences and is arguably the most engaging aspect of the Harry Potter series.

Another evocative aspect of this website is the additive comprehension, or new perspectives that change the comprehension of the story as a whole, gained through the online experience.  Rowling, since the release of “Pottermore,” has written a number of short stories and biographies that flesh out certain aspects of characters not explained in the original text and changes the way the readers view the characters. According to media scholar Henry Jenkins, this “create[s] a more expansive and immersive story than would have been possible otherwise” (Jenkins).  For example, Rowling released a story through “Pottermore” about Delores Umbridge (arguably the most unanimously hated villain of the series) that provides biographical elements never before shared with fans, altering their previous judgement. She does similar things the interactive portion as well, providing links through the online text, allowing fans to gain additional information on places, characters, and events and providing them with a greater depth and understanding of the story as a whole.


Harry Potter is a brilliant, well planned, and exceptionally complex multiform story made even richer through Rowling’s interactive website “Pottermore.” This transmedia extension allows fans to gain a greater knowledge of the fantastic Wizarding World and increases the interactive capability of the narrative. And, as J.K. Rowling says, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen” – or by transmedia extensions – “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”


Henry, Jenkins. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Web log post. Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007.        Web. 19 Feb. 2015. Blog / Podcast
Murray, Janet Horowitz. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free, 1997. Print.

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