Matthew Harrison portrait

Matthew Harrison

Instructor of English
Office
JRC 351
Hours
(Fall 2017) W 11:00am-12:00pm; also by appointment
Phone
(651) 962-5656

Ph.D. University of California-Irvine

M.F.A. University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Fall 2017 Courses

Fall 2017 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ENGL 203 - W06 Perfect Storm: Disaster in Lit M - W - F - - 1215 - 1320 OEC 204
CRN: 42573 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Matthew B. Harrison When a disaster happens, it can overwhelm our sense of reason and justice, test our capacity for empathy, and force into debate our assumptions regarding social order. Writing about disaster is an acrobatic act of reflection, mourning, coping, and investigation, but to what end? To establish blame? To preach or to rebuild character? To prepare better for the next disaster? Whatever the case, tales about disasters tend to blend strategies of personal narrative, myth, and history to bring the tragedies of titanic events back to the scale of human understanding. This course explores novels and films that depict various catastrophic "storms" in an effort to document, heal, warn, and find meaning in the apparently meaningless. Readings will include Daniel Defoe’s A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR, Jesmyn Ward’s SALVAGE THE BONES; Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WATER KNIFE; Dimitry Elias Léger’s GOD LOVES HAITI; and Joshua Mehigan’s book of poetry, ACCEPTING THE DISASTER. Films will include CONTAGION (Soderbergh, 2011), BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Zeitlin, 2012), clips from THE DUST BOWL (Burns, 2012), and THE IMPOSSIBLE (Bayona, 2013). Students will write weekly short papers on guided topics, a final research essay, and also work in groups throughout the semester to develop a disaster prevention or survival guide. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
ENGL 203 - W16 Perfect Storm: Disaster in Lit M - W - F - - 1335 - 1440 OEC 204
CRN: 43058 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Matthew B. Harrison When a disaster happens, it can overwhelm our sense of reason and justice, test our capacity for empathy, and force into debate our assumptions regarding social order. Writing about disaster is an acrobatic act of reflection, mourning, coping, and investigation, but to what end? To establish blame? To preach or to rebuild character? To prepare better for the next disaster? Whatever the case, tales about disasters tend to blend strategies of personal narrative, myth, and history to bring the tragedies of titanic events back to the scale of human understanding. This course explores novels and films that depict various catastrophic "storms" in an effort to document, heal, warn, and find meaning in the apparently meaningless. Readings will include Daniel Defoe’s A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR, Jesmyn Ward’s SALVAGE THE BONES; Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WATER KNIFE; Dimitry Elias Léger’s GOD LOVES HAITI; and Joshua Mehigan’s book of poetry, ACCEPTING THE DISASTER. Films will include CONTAGION (Soderbergh, 2011), BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Zeitlin, 2012), clips from THE DUST BOWL (Burns, 2012), and THE IMPOSSIBLE (Bayona, 2013). Students will write weekly short papers on guided topics, a final research essay, and also work in groups throughout the semester to develop a disaster prevention or survival guide. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)

J-Term 2018 Courses

J-Term 2018 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location

Spring 2018 Courses

Spring 2018 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ENGL 203 - W10 Hocus Pocus: The Magic Touch M - W - - - - 1335 - 1510 SCB 104
CRN: 22405 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Matthew B. Harrison Magic in literature and film is often portrayed as a secret skillset or way of seeing that enables vulnerable characters to escape, resist, or change restrictive environments. Characters who learn magic can suggest that, with the right mentorship, codes, tools, and focus—not to mention a good deal of luck—one can transform into someone or something more potent and resilient. But who, in the magical worlds of such stories, controls access to techniques of self-transformation? What other techniques are out there? What are the dangers and responsibilities of using systems of magic? What is “good” magic? What is “bad”? Is the dream of success behind magical thinking just a misguided fantasy? Do other “rational” systems of thought ever convey assumptions about the world that seem “magical”? We will debate these questions as they arise in several books and films. Our readings will include REDEMPTION IN INDIGO, by Karen Lord; THE MAGICIANS, by Lev Grossman; ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY, by Charlie Jane Anders; and selected short stories by Kelly Link and Helen Oyeyemi. Films will include THE MAGICIAN (1958), SPIRITED AWAY (2002), and NOW YOU SEE ME (2013). Students will write weekly short papers on guided topics and a final research essay. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)