By Published: Feb. 9, 2021

CU Boulder senior’s thesis reflects on what it means to be a spiritual text

One of Natania Bloch’s earliest memories was waking up with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire open on her lap. A devoted fan of the fantasy series, 5-year-old Natania fell asleep reading about Harry outfoxing a dragon to retrieve a golden egg. 

And while she didn’t know it then, Bloch would return to the magical world of Harry Potter as inspiration for writing her honors thesis.

“I loved the Harry Potter books growing up,” Bloch said, adding, “I’m a Hufflepuff.”

Bloch studies the Holocaust and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in December with majors in history and Jewish studies, and minors in communications and biochemistry.

For her honors thesis in the Jewish studies department, Bloch looked at the “Potterverse” through a spiritual lens using the Harry Potter series as modern religious text. 

Natania Bloch

Natania Bloch

“A lot of people turn to Harry Potter instead of the Bible, Torah or Quran when they are in times of need,” Bloch said. “I think that’s what religion is for, speaking to you when you need it. For a lot of people, that can be many things, whether it’s Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, even science and evolution. It’s interesting to look at the world and see how it’s changing and diversifying and to find a way to fit all of those new things into a broader conception of religion.”

Bloch is also delving into different themes of religion, in particular Jewish sources and philosophers, to compile a framework for examining the existence of a god-figure in the series and whether it has to be a singular entity or if it can take a completely different form.

“I will be talking about magic as a god-figure,” Bloch said. “I will also look into how people practice religion, what that involves and the different laws in religions. The thing about Harry Potter, it’s got all those morals and teachings in it, but it shows them in a different way from biblical text. What makes it so special and unique among the overtly religious texts I’ve encountered is that it speaks to children, too.”

For a lot of people, that can be many things, whether it’s Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, even science and evolution."

Although Bloch doesn’t rely on one book in particular, she turns to literature in general for comfort and inspiration.

“I used to love series like Artemis Fowl and His Dark Materials,” she said. “So, I guess it just depends on what I need at the moment, and what gives me comfort at that period in my life.” 

Bloch next plans to follow in her family’s footsteps and go to medical school and specialize in pediatrics and psychiatry. 

Bloch especially enjoys supporting children. She has worked at summer camps, taught Hebrew classes for kids and been a teaching assistant in a children’s class.

“I love working with kids and making sure they feel heard and seen. It’s so important that they feel that when they’re sick,” she said.

Bloch also assists fundraising efforts for a Boulder County organization called Moving to End Sexual Assault to raise awareness about sexual violence.  

Last spring, Bloch was recognized for her outstanding academic achievement and range of service to the university and the community. She was among the 20 students awarded a Jacob Van Ek scholarship, one of the College of Arts and Sciences’ highest honors. 

As Hogwarts’ Professor Sprout might say, “Ten points for Hufflepuff.”