Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Emeritus Faculty: Dr. Brian Harris

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Brian HarrisBrian HarrisBrian HarrisBrian HarrisBrian Harris


Upon His Retirement
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures



Dr. Harris is from Idaho, that strangely shaped state up by the Canadian border that one might think would be better off divided up and the pieces merged with its neighbors yet manages somehow to hold together its disparate elements. It is therefore not surprising that he should have succeeded in his long career to be teacher, translator and creative artist, to be both highly serious about intellectual matters and always surprise with an off-beat comment, or that he would suggest in a committee meeting that anarchy would be better than ordered structure and yet always look for interdisciplinary connections.

Brian Lamont Harris graduated cum laude Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Idaho in 1963 with a double major in philosophy and German and a minor in English. He then went on to the University of Texas at Austin where he continued his studies of German Literature. He concentrated on late-nineteenth and twentieth century German literature, particularly the avant-garde. His second area of concentration was German literature from 1750-1885. He also continued to work in philosophy and English. His dissertation was a translation with an introduction and notes of Hugo Ball's Critique of the German Mind (Sur Kritik der deutschen Intelligenz). He received his doctorate in 1979.

From 1968 to 1977 he taught at Grinnell College in Iowa, then from 1979-81 at Regis College in Denver, CO moving on to the University of Denver and then the University of Colorado at Denver. He has been at ECU since 1982.

He has received a number of honors and awards during his long career. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Sigma Iota. In 1963 he received the University of Idaho Award for Creativeness. He spent the following year at Philipps-Universität in Marburg/Lahn, Germany, as a Fulbright Fellow. At the University of Texas he was an NDEA Fellow. At the University of Colorado he was a 1982 finalist for a Teacher Recognition Award and was recognized for his "dedication to academic excellence" and his "exceptional and outstanding teaching."

Throughout his years at ECU, he has been known as an excellent teacher, receiving the praise of his students who acknowledge not only his performance in the classroom but also his willingness to help them outside the classroom.

Dr. Harris has a long history of service to the department and the university, having served perhaps on every possible committee, with "dedication and efficiency" as one administrator put it, beyond the call of duty.

Dr. Harris's scholarly and creative accomplishments are far-ranging. He is a published translator, notably of Hugo Ball's Critique of the German Mind, of fiction, of poetry, and of essays. He has also presented numerous papers of the art and theory of translation.

Many of you may not have realized that he is a published poet and playwright as well as an accomplished photographer. Some know him as a jazz enthusiast. Few have heard him play the saxophone, but I believe he still does, though only in small jazz ensembles. It is really not surprising that he received an award for creativeness!

His special areas of interest, besides translation theory and practice, are Dada and Surrealism, as anyone who has encountered his wry humor could have guessed. His love of literature and the care with which he uses language cannot be overlooked, nor the deep commitment to university teaching that flows from them.

I have only known Dr. Harris for seven years. Many of you have known him for far longer. I have personally profited from the many discussions I have had with him on topics ranging from departmental administration through surrealist literature to jazz. Dr. Harris has been a fine colleague and it has been a privilege to work with him. We all wish him well in his retirement and envy the freedom he will now have to pursue with renewed energy his creative projects.

-- Sylvie Debevec Henning, 2004