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Brett Harris sits in front of a desk with a globe and books. He is wearing a mask.
Brett Harris (photo by Donn Young)

 OUR Student Ambassadors are a group of undergraduate researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill who work with the Office for Undergraduate Research in the College of Arts & Sciences to promote a culture of research on campus. We shine a spotlight on three of them during University Research Week, Oct. 19-23.

Name: Brett Harris

Hometown: Freeburg, Illinois

Major and graduation year: Class of ’21, double major in contemporary European studies and English and comparative literature, minor in urban studies and planning

Your research focus: My honors thesis investigates the role of objects in the works of Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov. In particular, I examine the ways objects orient space and time within narratives, and I also provide insight into the author’s concept of afterlife. More broadly, I work to leverage research in the humanities to engage publics on issues such as social justice and community resilience.

Why I do research: The soft power of research in the arts and humanities has the ability to humanize the other, to challenge prejudice and to invite empathy. During these polarizing times, I believe it is more vital than ever to explore and share the variety of human experience, and to engage others — family, coworkers, strangers — in this practice as well. Through conducting research, I am able to enter and contribute to a conversation much larger than myself, and I hope to be a positive influence in that space.


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