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 builds stronger connections between undergraduates, graduate students and professors. Small groups of undergraduate majors and undeclared students interested in the study of literature meet with faculty members and graduate student mentors throughout the semester. In these meetings we talk about intellectual, institutional, and practical issues. What is the English major? What kinds of reading do we do and why? What kinds of careers do people have with a Berkeley degree in English? In these discussions, free of the pressure of grades, we talk about our intellectual interests and about being part of an academic community. Graduate student mentors also hold one-on-one meetings with undergraduates to talk about challenges and goals. They lead explorations of campus resources like the Bancroft library and the art museum. Every semester, Berkeley alumni in different professions speak about how the English major has contributed to their careers. Professors talk about how they came to study English, how they produce writing, or how they disagree about particular texts.
Berkeley Connect provides relaxed and fun opportunities to get to know your community and to think together about how to make the most of your Berkeley experience.
Professor Catherine Flynn
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.
Catherine Flynn (Director) is an Associate Professor in the English department, specializing in British and Irish modernist literature and critical theory. She has taught at Berkeley since 2012. Her book, James Joyce and the Matter of Paris, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (2019). She is currently at work on an edition of Flann O’Brien’s multilingual Irish Times column, Cruiskeen Lawn. She is delighted to take part in Berkeley Connect.
Josh Gang is an assistant professor in the English department. He works on British and Irish literature since 1900, with a particular focus on literature’s relations to psychology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science. He is currently completing his book manuscript “Word and Mind: Behaviorism and Literary Modernity.” He’s very excited to be part of Berkeley Connect this year.
Daniel Benjamin is a seventh-year PhD candidate in English, with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. His research and teaching focuses on contemporary poetry and theories of race and sexuality; his dissertation explores how writers like Dorothy Wordsworth, Amiri Baraka, Jack Spicer, and M. NourbeSe Philip make space for multiplicity in their writing. Born and raised in New York, NY, Daniel completed his B.A. in Philosophy at University of Chicago, and later received an MPhil in English from the University of Cambridge. Since moving to Berkeley, he has enjoyed participating in the Bay Area’s avid poetry scene (his poetry has recently appeared in The Tiny, Berkeley Poetry Review, and OVERSOUND); he received an MA with emphasis in Creative Writing from UC Berkeley last year. Daniel co-organized “Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today,” the first major conference dedicated to the queer writing movement that originated in San Francisco in the 1970s. Outside of books, Daniel enjoys watching basketball, trying new restaurants, and imitating favorite recipes in his own kitchen.
Tim Heimlich is a PhD Candidate in English. He grew up in southeast Wisconsin and graduated with a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After college, he spent several months volunteering as an English teacher at an orphanage in rural Tamil Nadu, India before returning stateside and moving to Berkeley. His dissertation examines British Romantic literature and Celtic national identities in the context of the broader British Empire. Outside of work, he enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, watching and playing a variety of sports, and traveling. He is thrilled to be a part of Berkeley Connect.
Allison Neal is a seventh-year PhD Candidate in English. Born and raised on the Central Coast of California, she received her BA in English at UC Berkeley in 2011 and started her PhD work at Berkeley a year later. As a graduate student, her work and teaching has focused on twentieth-century British and American literature, with a particular interest in American poetry. Her dissertation examines how various sound technologies helped twentieth-century American poets to construct, circulate, and imagine the audience for their own poetic voices. As a former Berkeley undergraduate (and student in the English department for the past 11 years!), Allison is excited to help foster a community similar to the one she experienced at Berkeley. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, eating (not cooking) Italian food, taking yoga and ballet classes, and traveling both in and out of California.
Here is the schedule for the semester: it’s a mixture of small group meetings with your mentor, one-on-one sessions with your mentor, trips to see Berkeley resources, and special program-wide events.
Wednesday, August 22, 6-8 p.m.: OPENING MEETING, Wheeler 315 (Maude Fife Room), Overview of program, introduction of mentors
August 28/29/30: 1st small-group meeting: Small Group Introductions
August 31: deadline for students to drop a course without a $10 fee
September 4/5/6: One-on-one meetings: Meet your Mentor
September 7: deadline for students to add a course without a $5 fee
September 11/12/13: 2nd small-group meeting: Planning the Semester
Tuesday, September 18, 6-8 p.m.: PROFESSORS IN DIALOGUE: Wheeler 315 (Maude Fife Room). Lyn Hejinian, Nadia Ellis and Grace Lavery talk about Literature and Activism
Sept. 21: deadline for students to drop or add a course, but with the assessment of a $10 fee to drop or a $5 fee to add. After Sept. 21: students may add or drop a course ONLY if they submit a petition to a Dean of their College for their request to be considered
September 25/26/27: 3rd small-group meeting: Reading Near and Far
October 2/3/4: Office Hours (fellows set schedule)
October 9/10/11: 2nd one-on-one meetings with mentors: Course selection
Monday, October 8: Announcement of Classes for Spring ’18 posted to english.berkeley.edu
October 16/17/18: 4th small-group meeting: Connecting with Your Professor
Oct. 15: Phase I enrollment begins
Wednesday, October 24, 6-8 p.m.: ALUMNI CAREER PANEL, Wheeler 315 (Maude Fife Room); Alumni talk about careers with a degree in English
Wednesday, October 26: change grading option (P/NP) deadline for undergrads
October 30/ 31/ November 1: 5th small group meeting: Growing as a Writer
Wednesday, November 7 and Thursday, November 8: FIELD TRIP TO BAM (Berkeley Art Museum). Sign-up sheets for sessions at 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
November 13/14/15: 6th small group meeting: Visualizing Literature
November 20-24: Thanksgiving
November 27/28/29: 7th small-group meetings: reflections/conclusions
Tuesday, December 4, 6-7p..m, STUDY BREAK, English Department Lounge, Wheeler 330
Berkeley Connect involves no homework, no papers, no exams. It is offered Pass/Not Pass. In order to receive a Pass and receive one unit of academic credit, you must:
- attend the small-group sessions (attendance will be taken)
- participate in two (2) one-on-one meetings with your mentor
- attend the special events and the field trip unless you have unavoidable scheduling conflicts that you report in advance
- complete the required exit survey at the end of the semester
More than 2 absences and/or failing to complete the exit survey will result in a Not Pass. The following count as absences:
- Missing a small-group meeting
- Missing a one-on-one meeting and not scheduling a make-up meeting
- Missing a special event or field trip unless you report in advance an unavoidable scheduling conflict to your mentor
Every semester, students in Berkeley Connect are required to fill out an anonymous exit survey on bCourses. If you do not fill out the survey, you will not get credit for Berkeley Connect. One exit survey is used for all Berkeley Connect programs, in order to collect comparative assessment data. BC will be able to tell which students have completed the survey, but will not be able to see their answers linked to their names. Faculty directors find this data very helpful in making program improvements and planning future semesters.
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.