Berkeley Connect

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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.


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

Wendi BootesWendi Bootes is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature.

Where did you grow up?

Tucson, AZ

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Macalester College; English and Russian

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

My interests broadly lie in 19th and 20th century British, Irish, and Russian literatures. More specifically, my dissertation looks at how early 20th century Irish and Russian writers registered the felt effects of historic upheavals—revolution in particular—through literary form.

Semester Activities


Welcome to Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature!  The central idea of this course is that people learn best when they learn together.  That premise underpins all our activities at Berkeley. Berkeley Connect seeks to enhance learning by strengthening contacts between undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty outside of the classroom. The program sets its sights on both the present and the future, seeking to assist you in making the most of the university’s tremendous intellectual and cultural resources while also allowing you to focus in on the unique values and benefits of literary study itself—though we’ll also be underscoring the values and benefits of other areas of study in the humanities, social sciences, and “hard sciences.”

We invite you to connect with our faculty and graduate students in lively conversation and discussions about comparative literature and the Berkeley experience. Through Berkeley Connect, you will have the chance to ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Along the way, you will learn a good deal more about the practice of comparative literature; have a chance to talk about other areas of study and other majors and minors; explore the Berkeley campus with a dedicated mentor; and meet a fantastic group of peers.  Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in the Comparative Literature Department.  Participants will join small groups of 20 students in regular meetings; students will also meet with mentors one-on-one for academic guidance and advice.

Berkeley Connect is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

You’ll get the most out of your Berkeley Connect experience if you participate fully: engage with your peers at the bi-weekly small-group meetings, attend both scheduled one-on-one meetings with your mentor, take advantage of your mentor’s office hours throughout the semester, attend the special events where you can meet professors and alums, and go on the field trip to explore resources available to you on campus or in the community. All of these activities have been organized to give you connections, knowledge, and experiences that will enhance your time at Berkeley.

Berkeley Connect requires no homework assignments, papers, or exams. You are simply required to participate. What do we mean by participation?  For the two one-on-one mentoring sessions, we expect you to respect your mentor’s time by showing up promptly and prepared to engage in an honest conversation about your academic interests, goals, concerns, challenges, etc. The section meetings are designed to involve students in interactive discussions and activities. The more students share their ideas, opinions, and perspectives, the more valuable these sessions will be–for you and for your fellow students. We understand that some students are more comfortable speaking in group settings than others. We strive to provide ways for students to interact in pairs and small groups, and to contribute in various ways. You don’t have to be a frequent speaker in order to be an engaged participant; listening is also a powerful way of being present. We do ask that you give your fellow students your full attention, and that you commit to being an engaged member of the group, even if you do so quietly. This means, among other things, putting away all screen devices unless you’ve been invited to use them for a specific activity. Meeting these expectations will allow you to reap the full benefit of participating in Berkeley Connect, and make your presence a benefit to others.


Berkeley Connect is offered Pass/Not Pass. In order to receive a Pass, you must:

  1. attend the bi-weekly small-group sessions (attendance will be taken), not missing more than 2 meetings
  2. participate in both one-on-one meetings with your mentor
  3. attend the special events and the field trip unless you have unavoidable scheduling conflicts, reported in writing in advance
  4. complete the required exit survey at the end of the semester


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

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

Links & Resources