The Fall 2011 Europe Center distinguished “Europe Now” speaker, Robert Harrison is a research affiliate at the Center. At Stanford University, Harrison is the Rosina Pierotti Professor of Italian Literature. A profound thinker on medieval Italian literature, Harrison has also established himself as one of our preeminent analysts of western culture, and its preocupation through literature, religion, and mythology in the interchange of secular and sacred realms.
Professor Harrison's publications are as prodigious as they are influential. In his first book, The Body of Beatrice (1988; editions in English and Japanese) Harrison writes of medieval Italian lyric poetry, with special emphasis on Dante's early work La Vita Nuova. This was followed by Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, (1992; editions in English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Korean), in which he 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. Rome, la Pluie: A Quoi Bon Littérature? (1994; editions in French, Italian, and German) takes the creative 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. His next book, Dominion of the Dead Dominion of the Dead, (2003; editions in German, French, and Italian) focuses on the relations the living maintain with the dead in diverse secular realms. Professor Harrison's most recent book is Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (2008; editions in English and French).
Known widely among students and the engaged public, Robert Harrison has hosted the lively and meaningful literary talk show on Stanford KZSU radio called "Entitled Opinions." The show features wonderful hour-long conversation with a variety of scholars, writers, and scientists. To be a student of Professor Harrison is to be mentored by one of the world’s preeminent scholars who also embodies the ideal of his humanist subjects. To be chosen for Robert Harrison’s radio interview is to be engaged in the rich experience of making the humanities matter to our world’s deepest concerns. In his spare time, Robert Harrison is also lead guitarist for the cerebral rock band Glass Wave.