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BERKELEY CONNECT IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the University to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you make the most of your time at the University as you learn more about the major in Comparative Literature. We are excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature works to make stronger connections among our undergraduates, graduate students, and professors–and with the larger campus and its various communities. Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature brings together small groups of undergrad Comp Lit majors and undeclared majors who’re interested in the study of literature; they meet with faculty members and graduate student mentors throughout the semester. The small-group discussion sessions give us a chance to address intellectual, institutional, and day-to-day practical kinds of issues. For instance: what is the Comparative Literature major? What sorts of reading do we do; how do we do it; why; what do we get out of it? What various kinds of careers do people with UC Berkeley degrees in Comparative Literature go on to have? These class discussions and conversations–free of the pressure of grades–allow us to talk about our intellectual, literary/artistic, cultural, and sociopolitical interests–those interests that we brought with us to Berkeley, and the ones we encounter or further develop here (in the academic community, the city, and the wider Bay Area).  Graduate student mentors also hold one-on-one meetings with undergraduates to discuss students’ challenges, questions, and goals.  The mentors also lead explorations of, and visits to, campus units and resources like the Bancroft Library and the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).  There are also events featuring Berkeley Comp Lit alumni working in a number of different professions,  who speak about how the Comp Lit major has helped shape their interests, abilities, and careers.  In addition, professors speak about how they came to study Comparative Literature, how they write, how they think–and engage in discussions–about literary works, in ways that involve both agreements and disagreements with others.

From start to finish, Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature creates opportunities for relaxed, enjoyable encounters with–and further explorations of–the Comp Lit community at Berkeley, and helps us think together about how to make the most of your experience here at the University.

Professor Robert Kaufman
Director, Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with an experienced mentor in Comparative Literature. The mentor leads small groups of students (not more than 20) in regular meetings and also meets with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. Berkeley Connect is offered as a one-credit, pass-not pass course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills related to Comparative Literature as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature is that you have an interest in this field of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared their majors.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating studentsThey include:

  • small-group meetings facilitated by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentor is an advanced graduate student in Comparative Literature, chosen both for demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for scholarly achievement. The mentor is dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of the small groups of participants in Comparative Literature. Your small group sessions will be facilitated by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Comparative Literature as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, to talk about anything you choose related to your academic life—questions you have, challenges you are facing, resources you are seeking, goals you are seeking to achieve. Your mentor also has open mentoring hours throughout the semester, during which you are free to show up and continue these conversations, or just check in.

Faculty

Robert KaufmanRobert Kaufman is proud to be a member of the First Gen Faculty group and to have received all of his degrees from UC Berkeley: a BA in English, a JD in Law, and a PhD in English. His teaching and research emphasize several interrelated areas:  20th-21st-century American poetry and its dialogues with modern Latin American, German, French, and British poetry; romantic and 19th-century poetry and poetics; philosophical aesthetics, literary theory, and the history of criticism (especially since Kant and romanticism); and Frankfurt School critical theory and the arts (poetry and the other literary genres; music; cinema; painting, etc.). He has previously taught at McGill University in Montreal, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the Comparative Literature faculty at UC Berkeley since 2007; he also teaches in, and is a past Co-Chair of, the Program in Critical Theory.


Meet Your Mentor

Matthew Gonzales Matthew Gonzales is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature.

  • Where did you spend your childhood? Chino, California in the Inland Empire region of Southern California.
  • Where did you go to college? What was your major? CSU Long Beach. I majored in Comparative Literature.
  • How would you describe your research in a sentence or two? I study poetry and performance art from across the Americas, working in mainly English and Spanish. My research focuses on exploring the the relation between poetry, art, and sociopolitical life.

Semester Activities

Wednesday, Aug 28:     Welcome; Introductions; Overview of Schedule & Requirements

Wednesday, Sept 4:        Re-Introductions, Further Introductions. Discussion: Why Literature, & Why Comparative Literature?

Wednesday, Sept 11:      One-on-One Meetings with Mentor

 

Wednesday, Sept 18:      Connecting with Your Professor

 

Wednesday, Sept 25:      Special Event: Visit to Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

 

Wednesday, Oct 2:         Visualizing and Re-Visualizing Literature & Literary Criticism: Why They Matter

Wednesday, Oct 9:         Special Event: Visit to UC Berkeley Library, Archives

 

Wednesday, Oct 16:        Second Session of One-on-One Meetings with Mentor

 

Wednesday, Oct 23:         Growing as a Writer.

 

Wednesday, Oct 30:          Field Trip to Campus Centers for Events, Discussions, Presentations (Townsend Humanities Center, Center for Latin American Studies, etc.)

 

Wednesday, Nov 6:           Blocks; More Discussion of Writing and Writing-Process

 

Wednesday, Nov 13:          Film-Screening and Discussion

 

Wednesday, Nov 20:           Special Event: Discussion with Panel of Visiting Professors

 

Wednesday, Nov 27:           (Pre-Thanksgiving-Holiday “Non-instructional day”); Office Hours

 

Wednesday, Dec 4:              Final Reflections/Conclusions

 

Wednesday, Dec 11 ( RR&R Week):    

                                                 Optional Study Break: Refreshments and Relaxed Conversation

Schedule

To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors) in Comparative Literature.

To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores) and upper division (juniors—including new junior transfers—and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  To participate in Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature, you enroll in a section of Comp Lit 98 BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.

You may enroll in Berkeley Connect more than once (some students choose to participate for a full year by enrolling in both the fall and spring semesters), and you may enroll through more than one department. You may NOT enroll in more than two sections of Berkeley Connect in one semester, or enroll in more than one section in the same department in the same semester.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs.  If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature, please contact:

Robert Kaufman, Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature robkaufman@berkeley.edu

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office  at berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources