Foundation Scholar Harris Sockel


The Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club and Northwestern University are sponsoring Harris Sockel to make a circumnavigation in 2008 while conducting research on a topic which he has selected and which has not been previously studied by other Foundation Scholars.

Harris is studying how American literature is translated, re-published, marketed and interpreted across the world. What do these processes reveal about America's image abroad? See below for a more complete explanation of Harris' research topic.

News Flashes

On September 8, 2010, Harris was quoted several times in the New York Times as he started his Teach for American program. Harris delayed his PhD program to participate in this volunteer program to help urban schools in America. The article shows he made a big impact his first day as a teacher.

On April 25, 2008, Harris was selected for the extremely prestigious Beinecke Scholarship to cover his doctoral studies. The Beinecke accepts one nomination apiece from over 100 select institutions. Of those nominees chosen, they selected 22 scholars for their 2008 class.

Dispatches from Circumnavigation

Harris Sockel New Delhi

Northwestern University set-up a website for Harris containing his dispatches and photos from his circumnavigation. Click here to see his dispatches and photos.

In the photo on the left, Harris poses in front of the India Gate in New Delhi while displaying the Circumnavigators flag during his journey.

After Harris returned from his circumnavigation, the Daily Northwestern published an informative article on his trip.

Background on Harris

Harris Sockel grew up in Lower Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, and attended Lower Merion High School. In high school, he participated in theatre and music activities, acting in school shows and singing in Pennsylvania’s all-state and all-eastern choirs.

At Northwestern, Harris is studying American literature and French, and is also a student in the creative writing program for poetry. His favorite writers include: Charles Dickens, J.D. Salinger, Herman Melville, Brenda Shaughnessy, Robert Frost and Charles Juliet.

Harris is a former musical director of Purple Haze, a co-ed a cappella group at NU. See him sing in a YouTube video. Harris enjoys carrying his pitch pipe around campus, and he has played classical piano for 14 years.

Harris also tutors middle-schoolers in Evanston for the America Reads Program and tutors Northwestern undergraduates in calculus for the Gateway Science Workshop Program. He has been a counselor for Northwestern’s Freshman Urban Program and is an English Department representative on the Student Advisory Board.

For the past two summers, Harris has held a teaching internship with Summerbridge of Greater Philadelphia. A division of AmeriCorps, Summerbridge places college students in classrooms across the country to teach their own classes to middle-schoolers in summer academic enrichment programs. Harris taught math and French classes to Philadelphia middle-schoolers. He completed a research project last summer as well, concerning intertextuality in male adolescent narrative. Specifically, Harris examined J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and its implicit and explicit references to Dickens, Hardy, Hemingway and other writers.

At NU, Harris was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Itinerary of Circumnavigation


  • June 16-July 6 - Paris
  • July 7-July 18 - London
  • July 19-July 20 - Totnes (England)
  • July 21-July 23 - Amsterdam
  • July 23-July 28 - Bielefeld (Germany)
  • July 28-August 2 - Frankfurt
  • August 2-August 9 - Munich
  • August 9-August 10 - Barcelona
  • August 10-August 15 - Casablanca
  • August 15-August 19 - Rabat
  • August 19-August 21 - Tangier
  • August 21-August 24 - Casablanca
  • August 24-August 29 - Djerba (Tunisia)
  • August 29-August 31 - Tunis
  • August 31-September 3 - Mumbai
  • September 3-September 9 - New Delhi
  • September 9-September 19 - Beijing

Click for an interactive map of Harris' intinerary. Zoom in and out using the slider control left of the map.

Harris' Research Topic

How is original American literature translated, re-published, marketed and interpreted across the world? What do these processes reveal about America's image abroad? Harris will use literature - fiction, poetry, and nonfiction - as a way to understand America's place in the world.

Which works of American literature are chosen to be translated and admitted into various cultures and how are they consequently interpreted by readers abroad? Harris will speak with publishers, booksellers and ordinary readers about the ways in which their conceptions of America are formed by the American literature available to them.

Given current tensions surrounding America's place in an increasingly globalized world, a study of American literature's international circulation is necessary to accurately understand the dynamic relationship between America and the rest of the world.

Finally, this study underlines the importance of the written word as a means of relating to one another - through an investigation of the various ways in which different groups of people interpret the same texts.

One of Harris' favorite books, The Catcher in the Rye, has been translated into 19 languages. A few examples:

USA Italian Russian
Older US Version Italian Russian
Korean Icelandis Hebrew
Korean Icelandic Hebrew