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.
Adrian Acu is an eighth-year PhD Candidate in English. After growing up in San Jose, he went east to Notre Dame for his BA in English and Philosophy, spent a few years working for a homeless advocacy and aid agency in Santa Clara, then went further east to Buffalo for his masters in English. He studies twentieth century British and American poetry and philosophy for the alternatives they posit to the straightforward relation between work and product. His classes explore this relation as it manifests in such diverse forms as the honor economy, fragmentary literature, video and board games and sport. Adrian comes to the Berkeley Connect program excited to help students get all they can out of their major; other welcome topics of conversation include Notre Dame football and fencing.
Shannon Chamberlain is a graduate student in English, where she specializes in eighteenth-century British and Scottish literature, particularly the influence of novels on the work of the economist and philosopher Adam Smith. She grew up in Michigan, went to Harvard, and then decided that she couldn’t endure another East Coast winter and went to work as a grant writer at UC San Diego. While at Berkeley, she’s written articles about Jane Austen and Adam Smith for the Atlantic, short fiction for Vice, personal essays for Slate, and a kids’ novel about how to tell if your little sister is a supervillain. She’s also very much enjoyed teaching Reading & Composition classes on writing about television and hopes to have many more conversations about TV with her Berkeley Connect mentees!
Margaret Kolb just finished her PhD in English at Berkeley. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, where she majored in English and abstract mathematics. Margaret has been trying to wrap her head around this foolish decision ever since. She’s now working on turning her dissertation into a book about how the novel and probability mathematics exchanged ideas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In between chapters, you may find her running in the Berkeley hills, cooking elaborate feasts, cheering for Russell Westbrook while cursing his hapless team, and attempting to play piano. After three years of dissertation writing in Abu Dhabi (where Ferraris roam free), she is looking forward to calling Berkeley home once more.
Richard Lee is an eighth-year PhD student in the English Department. After growing up in New Jersey, he completed his BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, as well as an MSt from Oxford University the following year. At Berkeley, he studies early modern English literature (with a focus on Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and John Milton), as well as the history of literary criticism and philosophical aesthetics. His dissertation explores the intersections between political agency and aesthetic experience; it thinks through the ways that careful attention to literary artifacts both enables and restricts more active forms of intervention in social life. In his spare time, Richard enjoys watching the New York Rangers, listening to Bruce Springsteen, and consuming vast amounts of artisanal Bay Area ice cream.
Aileen Liu is a sixth-year PhD candidate in English. Born and raised in Wisconsin, then North Carolina, she earned her BA in English from Duke University. She then taught high school English in Atlanta as a Teach For America corps member, where she discovered her love for teaching. At UC Berkeley, she regularly teaches classes on Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, and Hollywood film. She is a contributor to two digital humanities projects, the Shakespeare’s Staging project at UC Berkeley, and the Restoring Sidney’s Arcadia project in collaboration with faculty at Purdue and Stetson. Her dissertation considers the challenges of translating the genre of romance from page to stage in Shakespeare’s late romances. She loves watching movies and serial television, reading for pleasure on her Kobo, playing Neko Atsume, learning new things and skills (most recently, how to read sixteenth-century secretary hand, and how to use vlookup in Excel), and making lists.
Spencer Strub is a sixth-year graduate student in English and Medieval Studies. A Northern California native, he completed a BA in English at Harvard and then hurried back to the Bay Area, where he spent several years writing magazine articles, short stories, and user manuals for video servers. Here at UC Berkeley, he tends to study things that predate video servers by at least five centuries: his scholarly interests include late medieval poetry and prose, religious practice, and the history of the book. His dissertation examines how Middle English poets borrowed a religious discourse on the sins of the tongue – a catchall category for all manner of wicked speech, from flattery to gossip to dirty jokes – for their own purposes. When he is not poring over some old tome, he likes to read good novels, watch bad TV, eat spicy food, and jog, bike, and hike in moderation. He is thrilled to join Berkeley Connect, and is looking forward to a year of challenging and exciting conversation!
Week of January 16-20
Wed, January 18, 6 PM, HFA D-37: Opening Meeting
Week of January 23-27
small group meetings: Introductions and Reintroductions
Week of Jan 30 – Feb 3
one-on-one meeting with your mentor
Tuesday, Jan. 31, 6-8 PM, HFA D-33: Salon des Reliés: an evening of Berkeley Connect culture and talent. Calling all you musicians, clowns, rap battlers, omnivorous enthusiasts: let’s see what we Connectors can do! If you are a performer or entertainer, sign up with Serena (email@example.com) for a performance slot. As for we who “love to be astonished,” we’ll see you there!
Week of February 6-10
small group meetings: Planning the Semester
Week of February 13-17
visits to the Berkeley Art Museum. Sign up for one of the visits via bCourses!
Week of February 20-24
small group meetings: Visualizing Literature
Friday, Feb. 24, 3-6 PM, HFA D-37: Panel: Applying to graduate and professional schools
Week of February 27-March 3
Week of March 6-10
combined small group meetings: Literature And? (with department faculty)
Week of March 13-17
Week of March 20-24
small group meetings: Literature and Film
***Spring Break: March 27-31***
Week of April 3-7
one-on-one meeting with your mentor
Professor Event: Literature and Music
Week of April 10-14
small group meetings: Wild Card
Week of April 17-21
Study Break and Nature Walk
Week of April 24-28
small group meetings: Conclusions, or, What Do You Know Now?
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.