Phoenix Rising welcomes the following Guests of Honor, all of whom will present as part of our conference. Please see our Keynote Presentations page for details on their events.
Susan Aikens: Susan Aikens began her career in small chain and independent bookstores as a bookseller and manager with special interest in the kids’ section of her stores. Susan joined Borders, Inc. in 1995 as the company's first publisher liaison hired from outside the company. Between 1996 and 2001, Susan worked as both a co-op marketing manager and as the National Events Group's event book buyer and co-op administrator (during which time Susan married another Borders employee, which is, to this day, a great carpool opportunity). Susan joined the Kids Group in early 2001 as an Assistant Buyer for the Independent Reader category, where she was involved in working on the paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the cloth edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and marketing of the films. In 2004, Susan was promoted to Independent Reader buyer and then had the thrill of buying Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for Borders in 2005. She is eagerly awaiting the final book in the series and is convinced she has the best job in the world!
During Transformation: From Boxes to Bookshelves and Beyond, Ms. Aikens, a bookselling industry veteran, will speak about the numerous changes that the Harry Potter books have had on her field.
Anne Hiebert Alton: Dr. Anne Hiebert Alton, a Professor of English at Central Michigan University, earned her Master of Arts in Children's Literature from the University of Calgary and her Doctor of Philosophy, with a specialization in Victorian Literature, from the University of Toronto. Her research and publication interests include children's literature, Victorian literature, fantasy, and the novel; and Dickens, the Brontës, Robert Louis Stevenson, Diane Duane, Jean Little, L. M. Montgomery, Anthony Browne, Maurice Sendak, P. L. Travers, E. L. Konigsburg, John Marsden, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Dr. Alton has also written "Generic Fusion and the Mosaic of Harry Potter" (in Harry Potter's World: Multidisciplinary Critical Perspectives) and presented "Here's ... Harry!: The Popular Genres of Harry Potter."
Dr. Alton will be presenting Transformation: From Influence to Inspiration, which will discuss the many source materials referenced in the Harry Potter novels, from folk tales to pulp fiction.
Melissa Anelli: Melissa Anelli has been reporting on Harry Potter and the fandom for nearly six years. She runs The Leaky Cauldron, which she has seen grow from a one-page news blog to a top Harry Potter destination that J. K. Rowling has called a "mine of accurate information" and "my favorite fan site." She also hosts The Leaky Cauldron's podcast, PotterCast, and has been involved in many different elements of the fandom as well. Ms. Anelli has also interviewed countless Harry Potter notables, including J. K. Rowling, Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and the American editor of the books, Arthur A. Levine. In her "real life", Ms. Anelli is a daily newspaper journalist who exists mostly on coffee.
Ms. Anelli will bring her extensive fandom experience to Transformation: From Fan to Fandom, a panel examining the growth of online fan communities from both an academic and an historical perspective.
Danny Bilson: As writer, producer and director, Mr. Bilson's credits include: the creation of The Flash; The Human Target; Viper and The Sentinel television series; The Rocketeer feature film, and the Trancers movie series. In addition, as Vice President of Intellectual Property Development for Electronic Arts, Mr. Bilson provided creative direction for some of the most successful video games in the history of the industry, including The Sims (as co-producer), Medal of Honor, James Bond, and the Harry Potter franchises, among others. Mr. Bilson teaches as part of the Interactive Media program in the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television, and is currently developing new intellectual properties designed to cross from games to films and back again.
Mr. Bilson will be relating the development and production of the Harry Potter video games by Electronic Arts, including his work with J. K. Rowling on their creation, in Transformation: From Text to Technology.
Simon Branford: Simon Branford has been in the Harry Potter fandom for many years and was one of the founders of FictionAlley, which has grown in the last five years from a new archive to the largest and most prominent archive of Harry Potter fanfiction and fanart. He was involved in incorporating FAWC, the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that operates FictionAlley, and has served the company as a Director, Vice President and Secretary. In his real life, he spends his time researching an obscure area of mathematical computation.
As part of Transformation: From Fan to Fandom, Mr. Branford will relate his considerable experience in building a fandom website and community.
Jon Burlingame: Jon Burlingame is one of the nation's leading writers on the subject of music for films and television. He writes regularly for The New York Times and Daily Variety, and has written for such other publications as the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, Premiere and Emmy. Mr. Burlingame is the author of three books: Sound and Vision: 60 Years of Motion Picture Soundtracks (2000), a look at film composers and movie soundtracks through the years; TV's Biggest Hits (1996), a history of American television scoring; and For the Record (1997), about Hollywood studio musicians. He has also written program notes for film-music concerts in locations as diverse as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, as well as a five-part series on movie music, The Score, hosted by producer Phil Ramone for the Trio cable network. Mr. Burlingame teaches film-music history at the University of Southern California and has made appearances on, or contributed music commentaries to, many DVDs, including King Kong (on the music of Max Steiner), The Magnificent Seven (Elmer Bernstein), The Pink Panther (Henry Mancini), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Ennio Morricone), The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman), The High and the Mighty (Dimitri Tiomkin) and others.
Mr. Burlingame, who has worked extensively with John Williams, among other film composers, will be analyzing the scores of the Harry Potter films after sitting down with Mr. Williams to gain additional insight into their composition in Transformation: From Screenplay to Film Score.
Vicky Dann: Vicky Dann is a full-time faculty member at New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts Department of Film and Television. She has published over fourteen books in numerous languages all over the world, and is a winner of a Writers Guild of America Award. She loves anything to do with Harry Potter, Barbie and Pez. Coming off her role as the Head of Hufflepuff House at The Witching Hour, and the triumphant winning of the House Cup by her esteemed House, Ms. Dann will be serving as the Headmistress of L'Université des Arts Magiques at Phoenix Rising.
Ms. Dann, a big fan of the Harry Potter film franchise, will be presenting Transformation: From Story to Screenplay, a discussion of each film before its nighttime showing.
Henry Jenkins: Henry Jenkins, head of the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, is the author of Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, What Made Pistachio Nuts?: Early Sound Comedy and the Vaudeville Aesthetic, and Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, to be released in 2006, which will contain a chapter on the Harry Potter fandom. Dr. Jenkins’ recent work focuses on the concept of "media convergence" as well as how the digital media consumers interact with, understand, and transform a creator's vision.
Dr. Jenkins will present on how an individual fan experience is turned into a collective fandom experience through the growth of online fan communities as a panelist during Transformation: From Fan to Fandom.
Jennie A. Levine: Jennie A. Levine, also known as Zsenya, has been a member of the Harry Potter fan community since 2000. In January 2001, she co-founded The Sugar Quill, a Harry Potter fan site dedicated to the improvement of creative writing using Harry Potter fanfiction as a jumping off point. The Sugar Quill also hosts discussion forums, and has grown from a small site with five volunteers to a site hosting over 900 fanfiction authors, over 50 volunteers, and over 8,000 registered members. Ms. Levine holds a master's degree in Library Science and works as an archivist. She would love to have a talk with Madam Pince about her customer service skills, although she thinks Madam Pince is justified in banning food from the library.
Ms. Levine, a panelist for Transformation: From Fan to Fandom, will discuss her substantial experience in creating a fandom website and community.
Catherine Tosenberger: Catherine Tosenberger is a Ph.D candidate in children's literature and folklore at the University of Florida. Her dissertation "Potterotics: Harry Potter Fanfiction on the World Wide Web," under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Kidd, is an in-depth study of Potter fanfic and fandom from both literary and ethnographic perspectives. Ms. Tosenberger has presented papers on fan cultures, folklore, and adolescent literature at a number of conferences, and is a contributor to the National Public Radio program Recess! She is a longtime member of the Harry Potter fandom, and will read anything that involves Weasleys.
Ms. Tosenberger will moderate the panel Transformation: From Fan to Fandom from both an academic and a fan perspective.