In Fall 2020, most or all of Berkeley Connect will be delivered remotely. No in-person presence is required..

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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 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!

Message from the Director

Catherine Flynn

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

Program Description

Program Description

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

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.

Andrew Way LeongAndrew Way Leong is an assistant professor in the English department. He works on Asian and Asian/American literatures of the long twentieth century. His current book project, entitled In the Time of Utopia: Queer Origins for Japanese/American Literature, examines Japanese and English language texts written by authors who lived in the United States between the opening of mass Japanese emigration in 1885 and the ban on Japanese immigration by the Immigration Act of 1924. He was born and raised in Oakland, and is excited to be a part of Berkeley Connect this year.

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Katie BondyKatie Bondy is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

San Francisco (proper!).

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

I went to Bard College, which is a small liberal arts college in upstate New York. I was an English major. 🙂

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

My research focuses on representations of plants as persons and persons as plants in nineteenth-century American literature and visual culture. I’m interested in these representational overlaps because of the questions they open up about narrative form, race, and gender in the period.

Alexander CatchingsAlexander Catchings is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

Reno, NV and Vancouver, WA (right across the bridge from Portland, OR).

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

University of Washington, English.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

I research how people approach both reading and writing novels since the smartphone and Wikipedia were invented.

Jee Hyun ChoiJee Hyun Choi is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

Seoul, Korea and St.Paul, MN.

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

Brown University, English.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

I examine Korean and Korean American literatures that engage Cold War histories, imperial formations, and migration.

Ryan McWilliams recently received a PhD in English from UC Berkeley.

Where did you grow up?


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

Stanford University, English.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

My research posits an alternative origin to ecological thought within political debates about the Age of Revolution. I explore this history from the transatlantic “pamphlet war” in response to the French Revolution to the fictional works of mid-nineteenth century American writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Michelle RipplingerMichelle Ripplinger is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?


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

I was an English major at Princeton.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

My dissertation examines how the imagined woman reader—the very *idea* of one—shaped the earliest articulations of the English literary tradition, beginning with the so-called father of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer. It shows that “English literature” and the “woman reader” came to be defined in relation to each in the late medieval and early modern periods, a key stage in their development.

Evan Wilson recently received a PhD in English from UC Berkeley.

Where did you grow up?

Birmingham, Alabama.

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

WashU & NYU; English.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

I study the history of literary forms and genres, as well as the relationship between politics and literary form. (I should also mention that I’m a medievalist!)

Semester Activities

Here is our schedule of events for the semester. You’ll meet with your group every second week and have two one-on-one meetings with your mentor over the course of the semester. We’re also scheduling main events where we’ll all come together to talk with English department faculty and Berkeley English Alums. Plus a field trip to view the special collections in the Bancroft Library.

Wed., Jan. 22             6:00-7:30 pm OPENING MEETING, Wheeler 315 (Maude Fife Room)

Jan. 28/29/31           Small groups: Introductions/Reintroductions

Feb. 4/5/6                   One-on-one meeting with your mentor

Wed., Feb. 12            6:00-7:30 PM MAIN EVENT: Humanities and Tech: Dean Anthony Cascardi in Conversation with Alum & CEO Jenny Dearborn (10 Evans)

Feb. 18/19/20          Small groups: What is work in the English dept?

Feb. 25/26                 6:00-7:30 PM: MAIN EVENT: Professors in Dialogue (Maude Fife, Wheeler 315)

March 3/4/5             Small groups: Words, Words, Words

Tue., March 10         FIELD TRIP: Bancroft Library visit

March 17/18/19     Small groups: Maneuvers in the library

March 23–27            Spring Break; NO CLASSES.

March 31/April 1/2   One-on-one meeting with your mentor

April 7/8/9                  Small groups: Dealing with blocks

April 14/15/16         “How I Write”: Professors and mentors share their experiences of meeting the challenges of the page. Small groups combine where possible.

Tue., April 21            6:00-7:30 PM MAIN EVENT with Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill: “Why People Trained by English Departments Are Desired by Google” (Maude Fife, Wheeler 315)                                 

April 28/29/30            Small groups: Conclusions

May 4 – May 8               Reading/Review/Recitation Week

May 11 – May 15        Final examinations

Credit Requirements

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:

  1. attend the small-group sessions (attendance will be taken)
  2. participate in two (2) one-on-one meetings with your mentor
  3. attend the special events and the field trip unless you have unavoidable scheduling conflicts that you report in advance
  4. 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:

  1. Missing a small-group meeting
  2. Missing a one-on-one meeting and not scheduling a make-up meeting
  3. Missing a special event or field trip unless unavoidable scheduling conflict is reported in advance


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.

How to Sign Up

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.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs.  If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in English, please contact:  Professor Catherine Flynn, Berkeley Connect Director,

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

Links & Resources

Creative-Writing Peer Workshops