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Robert Pogue Harrison

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Contact:

121 Pigott Hall
650 723 4204
harrison@stanford.edu

On leave Autumn 2012

Office Hours:

M 10:00-11:00, W 1:00-2:00, or by appointment

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Pirandello
Phenomenology
Baroque
Vico
Michelangelo
Humanism
The Italian Lyric
literary theory
renaissance
Dante

Robert Pogue Harrison

Professor of Italian
Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature
Chair of Graduate Studies, Italian

Professor Harrison received his doctorate in romance studies from Cornell University in 1984, with a dissertation on Dante's Vita Nuova. In 1985 he accepted a visiting assistant professorship in the Department of French and Italian at Stanford. In 1986 he joined the faculty as an assistant professor. He was granted tenure in 1992 and was promoted to full professor in 1995. In 1997 Stanford offered him the Rosina Pierotti Chair. In 2002, he was named chair of the Department of French and Italian. He is also lead guitarist for the cerebral rock band Glass Wave.

Professor Harrison's first book, The Body of Beatrice, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1988. A revised and elaborated version of his dissertation, it deals with medieval Italian lyric poetry, with special emphasis on Dante's early work La Vita Nuova. The Body of Beatrice was translated into Japanese in 1994. Over the next few years Professor Harrison worked on his next book, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, which appeared in 1992 with University of Chicago Press. This book deals with the multiple and complex ways in which the Western imagination has symbolized, represented, and conceived of forests, primarily in literature, religion, and mythology. It offers a select history that begins in antiquity and ends in our own time. Forests appeared simultaneously in English, French, Italian, and German. It subsequently appeared in Japanese and Korean as well. In 1994 his book Rome, la Pluie: A Quoi Bon Littérature? appeared in France, Italy, and Germany. This book is written in the form of dialogues between two characters and deals with various topics such as art restoration, the vocation of literature, and the place of the dead in contemporary society. Professor Harrison's next book, The Dominion of the Dead, published in 2003 by University of Chicago Press, deals with the relations the living maintain with the dead in diverse secular realms. This book was translated into German, French and Italian. Professor Harrison's most recent book is Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, which appeared in 2008 with the University of Chicago Press, and in French with Le Pommier. In 2005 Harrison started a literary talk show on KZSU radio called "Entitled Opinions." The show features hour long conversation with a variety of scholars, writers, and scientists.

Education

1984: Ph.D., Romance Studies (Dissertation: "A Phenomenology of the Vita Nuova"), Cornell University
1976: B.A., Humanities, University of Santa Clara

COURSES

ITALIAN 235E Dante's "Inferno"

Intensive reading of Dante's "Inferno" (the first canticle of his three canticle poem The Divine Comedy). Main objective: to learn how to read the Inferno in detail and in depth, which entails both close textual analysis as well as a systematic reconstruction of the Christian doctrines that subtend the poem. The other main objective is to understand how Dante's civic and political identity as a Florentine, and especially his exile from Florence, determined his literary career and turned him into the author of the poem. Special emphasis on Dante's moral world view and his representation of character. Taught in English.

ITALIAN 236E Dante's "Purgatorio and Paradiso"

Reading the second and third canticles of Dante's Divine Comedy. Prerequisite: students must have read Dante's Inferno in a course or on their own. Taught in English. Recommended: reading knowledge of Italian.

ITALIAN 221 Italo Calvino: Literature, Science, Philosophy

The course will follow the development of Italo Calvino's literary career, with a particular focus on his interest in fantastical and meta-fictional forms of narrative. Readings of Calvino's literary works, such as Cosmicomics, Invisible Cities, and Mr. Palomar, will be supplemented by readings from his critical prose, collected in the volumes The Uses of Literature and Six Memos for the Next Millennium. Taught in English.

ITALIAN 100 Masterpieces: Dante

An exploration of Dante's "Inferno" (the first of the three canticles of The Divine Comedy). The aim is to learn how to read the poem in detail and in depth, through both slow reading and ongoing reconstruction of Dante's world. We will also ask to what extent Dante's civic identity as a Florentine, especially his exile from Florence, gave momentum to his literary career and helped him become the author of one of the masterpieces of Western literature. Special emphasis is placed on Dante's ethical world view and his representation of character. Taught in English.

COMPLIT 359A Philosophical Reading Group (FRENCH 395, ITALIAN 395)

Discussion of one contemporary or historical text from the Western philosophical tradition per quarter in a group of faculty and graduate students. For admission of new participants, a conversation with H. U. Gumbrecht is required. May be repeated for credit. Taught in English.

ITALIAN 314 Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett (COMPLIT 281E, COMPLIT 381E, FRENCH 214, FRENCH 314, ITALIAN 214)

In this course we will read the main novels and plays of Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett, with special emphasis on the existentialist themes of their work. Readings include The Late Mattia Pascal, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Nausea, No Exit, "Existentialism is a Humanism"; Molloy, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Waiting for Godot. Taught in English.

ITALIAN 214 Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett (COMPLIT 281E, COMPLIT 381E, FRENCH 214, FRENCH 314, ITALIAN 314)

In this course we will read the main novels and plays of Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett, with special emphasis on the existentialist themes of their work. Readings include The Late Mattia Pascal, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Nausea, No Exit, "Existentialism is a Humanism"; Molloy, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Waiting for Godot. Taught in English.

FRENCH 314 Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett (COMPLIT 281E, COMPLIT 381E, FRENCH 214, ITALIAN 214, ITALIAN 314)

In this course we will read the main novels and plays of Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett, with special emphasis on the existentialist themes of their work. Readings include The Late Mattia Pascal, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Nausea, No Exit, "Existentialism is a Humanism"; Molloy, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Waiting for Godot. Taught in English.

FRENCH 214 Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett (COMPLIT 281E, COMPLIT 381E, FRENCH 314, ITALIAN 214, ITALIAN 314)

In this course we will read the main novels and plays of Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett, with special emphasis on the existentialist themes of their work. Readings include The Late Mattia Pascal, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Nausea, No Exit, "Existentialism is a Humanism"; Molloy, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Waiting for Godot. Taught in English.

COMPLIT 381E Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett (COMPLIT 281E, FRENCH 214, FRENCH 314, ITALIAN 214, ITALIAN 314)

In this course we will read the main novels and plays of Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett, with special emphasis on the existentialist themes of their work. Readings include The Late Mattia Pascal, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Nausea, No Exit, "Existentialism is a Humanism"; Molloy, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Waiting for Godot. Taught in English.

COMPLIT 281E Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett (COMPLIT 381E, FRENCH 214, FRENCH 314, ITALIAN 214, ITALIAN 314)

In this course we will read the main novels and plays of Pirandello, Sartre, and Beckett, with special emphasis on the existentialist themes of their work. Readings include The Late Mattia Pascal, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Nausea, No Exit, "Existentialism is a Humanism"; Molloy, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Waiting for Godot. Taught in English.

PUBLICATIONS