BERKELEY CONNECT in ENGLISH
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 to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in English. We’re excited to get to know you!
Berkeley Connect in English aims to build stronger and more informal connections among undergraduates, graduate students and professors. The Berkeley Connect faculty members and graduate student mentors hold regular gatherings throughout the semester with small groups of undergraduate majors and undeclared students interested in the study of literature.These meetings provide opportunities for open and flexible discussions of a host of intellectual, institutional, and practical issues and questions. We start with basic questions — What is the English major? Why major in English? What kinds of reading do we do and why? — as well as explorations of campus resources like the library, the Bancroft, and the art museum. Students have the chance to exchange ideas about literary texts and literary criticism, as well as the opportunity to think in new and surprising ways about the Berkeley environment and literary study. Mentors are available for one-on-one meetings to help with course selection or to answer questions like: Who should I talk to about American poetry, the Victorian novel, or Renaissance drama? What is the difference between a senior thesis and an honors thesis? Why do people go to grad school, or law school, or med school? What are the different things people do with a degree in English? Every semester, Berkeley Connect hosts a career panel, with Berkeley alumni in different professions, who speak about how the English major has contributed to their careers.
Berkeley Connect is not meant to offer extra help or tutoring on things like the mechanics of paper-writing or literary analysis; rather, it provides a more relaxed and fun way to make the best of your Berkeley experience.
Professor David Landreth
Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect in English
Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students. They include:
- small-group meetings led 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 mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in English, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are 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 several small groups of participants in English. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within English 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 also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.
David Landreth (Director) is an Associate Professor in the English department, specializing in the literature and culture of sixteenth-century England. He has taught at Berkeley since 2005. He is the author of The Face of Mammon: The Matter of Money in English Renaissance Literature (2012) and of essays about scholarly envy, economic crisis, and dirty jokes. He is delighted to take part in Berkeley Connect.
Lyn Hejinian (Assistant Director, Fall Semester) is a poet, essayist, teacher, and translator. Her academic work is addressed principally to modernist, postmodern, and contemporary poetry and poetics, with a particular interest in avant-garde movements and the social practices they entail. Her most recent poetry book is The Unfollowing (Omnidawn Books, 2016). In fall 2013 Wesleyan University Press published A Guide to Poetics Journal: Writing in the Expanded Field 1982-1998, which was followed by the related Poetics Journal Digital Archive, both co-edited by Hejinian and Barrett Watten. In addition to her academic work, she is a literary small press editor and publisher.
Joseph Lavery (Assistant Director, Spring Semester) is an Assistant Professor of English at UC Berkeley, where he teaches Victorian literature and culture (among many other things). He has recently completed his first book, entitled “The Sword and the Chrysanthemum: Victorian Theories of Japanese Aesthetics,” and is embarking upon new research projects on the history of sex comedy, and the relationship between British realism and psychoanalytic technique.
Jane Gregory (2017-2018 Starkey Fellow) is a PhD candidate in English. She grew up in the Sonoran Desert of Tucson, Arizona. After graduating from Vassar College she spent four years in New York City, during which time she worked for a delinquency prevention program for adolescent girls, taught summer school, sold books at The Strand, bartended, and dispatched for a courier service. She then moved to Iowa City where she received her MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her scholarly research focuses on contemporary American poetry and poetics, with a special interest in lyrical thinking and the end of the world. Her first book of poems, My Enemies, was published in 2013 and her second, YEAH NO, is forthcoming in the spring of 2018, both from The Song Cave. With Lyn Hejinian and Claire Marie Stancek she has recently launched Nion Editions, a chapbook press.
Aristides Dimitriou is a seventh-year PhD candidate in English. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he attended community college as a full-time working student and transferred to the University of Miami where he completed his BA. Before moving to California (escaping the danger of hurricanes for the safety of earthquakes), he held a wide variety of jobs–from metal refining to copywriting to teaching, among many others. At UC Berkeley, Ari studies twentieth-century ethnic modernism from a comparative perspective and enjoys reading U.S., Latin American, and Caribbean literatures. His dissertation explores the emergence of a hemispheric global modernism that constructs alternative temporalities to mediate literary form and history. He loves bonding with his wife and son, cooking for his family and friends, playing music (especially drums and percussion), and holding stimulating conversations with students from all walks of life.
Ismail Muhammad is a sixth year PhD candidate in English. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he completed his B.A. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University before returning to California. He is currently writing his dissertation on African American affect and subjectivity in the 20th century novel. Aside from his dissertation, he writes regularly for websites like Slate, The Millions, and Catapult, and is currently at work on a novel about the Great Migration and queer black identity. When he’s not working, he’s probably driving around the Bay as a form of meditation. He’s excited to share his experience as a scholar and writer with students in Berkeley Connect.
Lucy Sirianni is a seventh-year PhD candidate English; her research and teaching focuses on nineteenth-century minority and social justice literature with emphases on questions of gender, race, and disability. After growing up in Minnesota, Lucy started her undergraduate career as a music major at a conservatory, planning to become a professional opera singer, but she quickly realized her true passion was literature and transferred to Johns Hopkins University, graduating with a B.A. in English. She’s now working on a dissertation on nineteenth-century women’s social protest poetry. Beyond academics, Lucy enjoys singing with a local community choir, has adopted two rescue cats (Edith and Opal), and loves cooking and spending time with her family in the Midwest. Lucy has long hoped to be a part of Berkeley Connect. Her conversations with her students have been among the highlights of her time at Berkeley, and she looks forward to many more as a Berkeley Connect mentor!
Daniel Valella is a sixth-year PhD candidate in English, with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender, & Sexuality. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he earned his BA from Columbia University, where he double-majored in English and Comparative Ethnic Studies. Here at Berkeley, he studies and teaches courses on 20th- and 21st-century U.S. minority literatures, histories of colonialism, and theories of rhetoric and politics. His dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies that U.S. minority writers, narrators, and characters have used—from 1945 to the present—to persuade their audiences to join them in the act of resisting structural oppressions and working toward social justice. When he’s not reading or writing, he loves cooking, baking, and trying new restaurants; watching Netflix, Jeopardy!, and cable news; and going on long walks or hikes around the beautiful Bay Area.
Jesse Cordes Selbin is a PhD candidate in English. She attended college at the University of Texas at Austin and looks forward to discussing the opportunities, resources, and challenges of the public university experience with Berkeley Connect students. Before moving to California for graduate school, Jesse worked in the archives of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, and she remains excited about the world of archives, libraries, and museums. Jesse is currently completing a dissertation that explores how mass audiences of nineteenth-century Britain were taught to read and practice literary criticism as a public art.
The core of the Berkeley Connect Program is your small group meeting, in which your mentor will lead informal discussions about a wide range of issues related to the English major. Your small group meets every other week, beginning the week of August 28th. On the weeks when there are no small group meetings, your mentor will hold office hours so that you can continue the conversation.
There are no required essays, exams, or reading assignments in Berkeley Connect in English. In order to receive your unit of credit at the end of the semester, you must do the following: 1) attend all small group meetings and Main Events [see below for make-up policy if you are obliged to miss any Events]; 2) attend your two one-on-one meetings with your mentor; and 3) complete the end-of-semester survey.
Wednesday, August 23, 6-8 PM: OPENING MEETING, Wheeler 315 (Maude Fife Room)
small group meetings: Introductions
one-on-one meeting with your mentor
small group meetings: Orienteering for the Semester
small group meetings: Reading Near and Far
* September 22: add/drop deadline for undergrads
Tuesday, Sept. 26, 6-8 PM: MAIN EVENT!: “Encountering The Waste-Land“: a conversation (and reception!) with PROFESSORS LAVERY, SAHA, MARNO, and HEJINIAN, Wheeler 315
combined small group meetings: How We Write, with visiting faculty
(all meetings this week in Wheeler 315, not your usual classroom)
one-on-one meeting with your mentor
* October 9: Announcement of Classes for Spring ’18 posted to english.berkeley.edu
* October 16: Phase I Enrollment begins
small group meetings: Tools for Reading
October 23-27: MAIN EVENT!:
Treasures of the Campus: field trips to campus resources: destinations and schedules TBA
Tuesday, October 24, 6-8 PM: MAIN EVENT!: ALUMNI CAREER PANEL and reception, Wheeler 315
* October 27: change grading option (P/NP) deadline for undergrads
* applications for Spring ’18 creative writing classes will be due sometime this week
October 31/November 1/November 2
small group meetings: Developing Connections
small group meetings: Growing as a Writer
small group meetings: Conclusions and Reconsiderations
Tuesday, December 5, 5-7 PM: PIZZA AND CUPCAKES, English Lounge (Wheeler 330)
Making up for missing Main Events:
Since the Main Events are scheduled at times that may be different from your usual (small group) schedule, we know that some students will have commitments that prevent them from attending one or another. If you are obliged to miss a Main Event, you can make it up by attending an English Department event, such as a Holloway Poetry Series (Links to an external site.) reading or a scholarly panel. If you have a conflict, write to your mentor in advance of the event and let him/her know what make-up event you’ll be attending.
To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for English 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors).
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), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.
To participate in Berkeley Connect in English, you enroll in a designated section of English 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens. Please see the Berkeley Connect sections listed above under “Schedule.”
**Read the schedule notes carefully—different sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.
If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.