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Derek F. DiMatteo

  • Assistant Professor
    English Department

I arrived at Gannon amidst the coronavirus pandemic and found it delightfully better than the situation described by Albert Camus in The Stranger and much more hygienic than life in the Middle Ages as depicted in films such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Prior to my arrival at Gannon University in 2020, I was at Indiana University Bloomington (2012-2020), where I did my PhD and taught as a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of English and served as the Managing Editor of the academic journal Africa Today (IU Press).

From 2003-2012, I lived in Japan and taught at Kaichi Jr/Sr. High School and Lakeland University Japan campus. I was very active in the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT), and my research interests centered on EFL pedagogy, authentic materials and activities development, and using literature in EFL.

I grew up in Massachusetts, and I spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut. I was a high school and college athlete on the wrestling team. These days, my hobbies and interests include cooking, board games, karaoke, gardening, Japanese culture, and training and competing in jiu-jitsu. 

Courses Taught

Recent teaching includes the following courses:
  • Methods of Teaching English (ENGL 389)
  • Young Adult Literature (ENGL 321)
  • Prose Literature (LENG 241)
  • Composition and Critical Analysis (LENG 112)
  • College Composition (LENG 111)

Previous teaching includes courses such as:

  • "Immigrants, Refugees, and Returnees in Literature," featuring work by Mohsin Hamid, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Caryl Phillips, and Teju Cole. Through their stories, students explored what it means to migrate someplace new, how migration challenges and strains people’s ties to the lands left behind, the function of memory and forgetting, and the difficulty of going “home” again.
  • "Representations of Schooling in U.S. Culture" gave students an opportunity to engage critically with the popular portrayals of education that permeate U.S. culture (e.g. sketches from Key & Peele, The Simpsons, pop music, and films like Rushmore, School of Rock, and Dangerous Minds), analyzing them in conjunction with readings on the theory, practice, and crises of education.
  • Introduction to Fiction: The Uses and Value of Literature
  • Argumentative Writing: Current Debates in Higher Education
  • Professional Writing Skills
  • English Grammar Review

 

Educational History

  • PhD in English with a concentration in Literature and a minor in American Studies (2019) from Indiana University Bloomington.
    Dissertation title: “Academic Dissent: US Higher Education Protest Literature, 1985-2015.”
  • MA in English Literature (2014) from Indiana University Bloomington.
  • MAT in English Education (2002) from Tufts University.
    Teaching Licensure: Grades 7–12, Massachusetts Dept. of Education.
  • BA in English Literature (1997) from Wesleyan University,

Scholarship/Research

My research is at the intersection of literary/cultural studies and critical university studies, and examines higher education protest literature. My general field is American literature and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, with additional interests in satire, the transnational, protest literature, African American literature, and critical pedagogy.

My current project is based on my dissertation, "Academic Dissent: US Higher Education Protest Literature, 1985-2015." It examines cultural works—ranging from novels to films to sculptures—that protest against the corporatization of US higher education institutions, focusing particularly on representations of academic capitalism. It is a mixed-methods American Studies project in which I analyze cultural works such as life writing by academics, John Singleton’s campus film Higher Learning, and campus novels such as Jane Smiley’s Moo. In particular, I focus on representations of academic capitalism in these narratives and show that they protest against higher education's increasingly private-good orientation, which undermines its democratic citizenship aims and common good mission.

Critical work on protest literature tends to ignore the realm of education, scholarship in the area of critical university studies tends to be quantitative and policy-oriented, and criticism of university fiction (both literary and cinematic) approaches it (often dismissively) as humor, satire, and parody. In contrast, this dissertation project applies the protest literature lens to argue for a re-evaluation of university fiction as making a serious contribution to the higher education reform movement; analyzes the human dimension to academic protest literature, thereby adding a qualitative and cultural dimension to the field of critical university studies; and defines the particular characteristics of academic protest literature, thereby creating a space for education protest within the larger field of American protest literature.

The cultural works chosen for this study include novels by contemporary authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Mohsin Hamid, James Hynes, Alex Kudera, Ishmael Reed, and Jane Smiley; films by directors such as Steve Miner and John Singleton; personal essays and life writing by various academics; and visual art such as Margaret DeLima’s sculptures of adjunct reliquaries. These works of protest call attention to the cracks that have appeared and the damage that has occurred, and they urge us to take action before it is too late.