Portrait of Derek F. DiMattteo
Derek F. DiMatteo is Associate Instructor of English, Managing Editor of Africa Today, and PhD Candidate in the Department of English at Indiana University Bloomington.

Associate Instructor of English

In the fall of 2019, I'm teaching "Immigrants, Refugees, and Returnees" through the Lifelong Learning program. The course will feature woork by Mohsin Hamid, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Caryl Phillips, and Teju Cole. Through their stories, we will explore 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.

Managing Editor of Africa Today

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the journal, I coordinate the production process, work with authors during the copyediting and page proof stages, field author and reviewer inquiries, provide manuscript status updates to authors, and serve as a liaison between authors/reviewers and the editorial board.

PhD Candidate

My dissertation, "Academic Dissent: Higher Education Protest Literature, 1985-2015," examines cultural works—ranging from films to sculptures—that protest against the corporatization of US higher education institutions, focusing particularly on representations of academic capitalism in these works. My work is in the Departments of English and American Studies. I expect to graduate in May 2020.

Critical Ethnic Studies Symposium

I am one of the co-organizers of the symposium and the coordinator of its graduate student workshop. The 2019 symposium examined the conjunctures of nationalism, borders, and personhood through interdisciplinary lenses on dissent, social movement, ideological restriction or contestation, and state violence.

About my Dissertation

"Academic Dissent: Higher Education Protest Literature, 1985-2015"

This dissertation examines cultural works of the 1980s–2010s, ranging from films to sculptures, that protest against the corporatization of US higher education institutions, and in particular focuses on representations of academic capitalism in these narratives in order to determine what these works are protesting and how they are conveying that protest in ways that may influence the public imagination.

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. By locating itself at the intersection of these three areas, this dissertation intervenes in each field and offers a new perspective from which to analyze the growing wave of discontent toward higher education.

This dissertation articulates a space for education protest within the larger field of American protest literature, contributes to the qualitative and cultural dimension of critical university studies, and expands the interpretive frameworks for scholars in higher education studies, literary studies, and cultural studies.

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. This dissertation argues that narrative representation in these texts protests against the ways that higher education has become increasingly private-good oriented as its democratic aims and public good mission are undermined by the pressures of neoliberalism. 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.

Publications

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