David Harrison (1999). Professor of French. Director of the Center for International Studies, 2007-. B.A., Swarthmore College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison.
David Harrison, a scholar of French literature, has served as Director of the Center for International Studies (CIS) since 2007. He continues to teach French language, literature, and culture at all levels and is a popular advisor. His teaching style is that of a facilitator who assists students to take charge of their learning while guiding them toward increasing complexity, whether linguistic, literary, or cultural. He is continually innovative in his teaching, having been a pioneer (and the first foreign language professor) to adopt the Writing Fellows model. For teaching purposes, he has also integrated into his classroom work such resources as Faulconer Gallery exhibitions and Burling Special Collections. He pays particular attention to writing, crafting assignments that develop and reinforce writing skills both in English and French.
Beyond his teaching and Center directorship, Professor Harrison continues to grow as an active and widely recognized scholar of seventeenth-century French literature. In the past five years, he has published five peer-reviewed articles (with another forthcoming) and five book reviews, expanding his focus beyond his dissertation and early publications to a larger context of the history of “worldly conversation” in the manners and literary conventions of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. He has published in prestigious French scholarly journals, thus demonstrating that he participates in the same international conversations that he promotes as Center Director. His writing is lauded for complex and tightly woven argumentation of the type he also fosters in his students’ work. He is a regular conference presenter in a range of areas, including work on seventeenth-century uses of space and the self, as well as presentations on the importance of internationalism in a liberal arts curriculum. He is currently engaged in a larger project on the notion of wittiness and the witty woman in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French novels, growing out of his earlier focus on the Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon.
His service as Center Director has borne fruit in many ways, including the creation of a new institutional partnership between Grinnell College and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, as well as important groundwork for stronger ties with South Korea. At the same time, he has worked to strengthen our existing relations with Nanjing University. Under his guidance, the Center continues to sponsor faculty travel seminars, and he has worked hard to raise the visibility of international activity by Grinnellians abroad. He has been an active promoter of adding Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies to the curriculum, chairing the search committee for an Arabic instructor and helping to shepherd the appointment into a tenure-track position. Since receiving tenure, he has also served as Chair of the Teaching and Learning Working Group for the 2012 Strategic Plan and as a member of the 2010 Campus Plan Update Committee. Professor Harrison continues to work closely with Admission and to serve as a mentor for early-career colleagues. As recognition of the professional regard he has attained in his field, he has been invited to serve as an outside reviewer of French departments at Lewis and Clark, Reed, and Beloit Colleges, and of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at Mount Holyoke College.