Brian Harris In Memoriam

The Department mourns the loss of Brian Harris, ΦΒΚ Assoc. Professor of German, who passed away August 6 at his home. Dr. Harris brought humanity to every aspect of his work, from his love of teaching, to his research on Dada and German fiction and essays, his translation of Hugo Ball, his poems and plays, to his presence on faculty governance committees. He added jazz to every conversation, and was equally comfortable riffing on his sax or on the incompetence of those in power. His conversations would modulate from the role of time-signatures in Bebop, to the fabric of space-time, to the fabric of civilization, and always with self-deprecation and those smiling eyes. His great soul will be missed by those of us who knew and loved him.

Upon His Retirement »»

Paul Funeral Home Memory Wall »»

Obituary »»


  • He was a great friend and a great professor. I know that he made a difference in the lives of many students. — Manolita Buck

    Brian was a good friend. — Georganne Davies

    This is so sad. We lost an amazing person… — Marcela Ruiz-Funes

    When I first came to ECU for an interview, the reception line was quasi absent… yet I will never forget that Brian was the one to encourage me to call him if I had any question. Though I never did, I will never forget his verbal kindness. Who knows: I may have accepted this job because of these simple, kind words! I am sure that he would have wished that any new faculty be treated the same way; as I have never forgotten myself after all these years.
    Thank you Brian!
    P.S. I forgot to say: I once shaved my head for a while as a result of his direct suggestion (kind of a Dada act)… thank you Brian, we will miss you and moi , “je me souviens”. — Frédéric Fladenmuller

    Such a sudden loss. Brian’s grandsons played on soccer teams with Erika and we got to chat every so often while cheering them on. — Birgit

    I had just been thinking about him while fishing last week, and am very sad that he is gone. — Tricia Wilson-Okamura

  • This is horrible. A great loss. He was a beautiful person. — Puri Martinez

    Brian knew European modernism so well. We often spoke with him about poetry, futurism, and especially Khlebnikov. Such a sad day — Elena Murenina

    Brian really helped me out to adjust to being at ECU when I first came here, and I enjoyed working with him. This is a surprising and tragically early loss of a bright, creative mind — Jill Twark

    I am at a loss for words and cannot believe he is gone. — Gary Ambert

    We’ve lost a great man and a great mind. — Susana Castaño-Schultz

    A bad day… — Michael Schinasi

    I am speechless. I just spent time with him in May and he looked fabulous and his keen mind was working on jazz and science and literature all together as always in his fertile intellect. — John Stevens

    When we saw them, just two weeks ago, they mentioned getting together. We thought we could do it before school gets cranked up for fall semester. I guess when you hear “You just never know…,” it’s really true – You just never know. We have lost a great friend. — Carol Christian