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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!

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.

Faculty

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.


Dora ZhangDora Zhang is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature. Her research focuses on 20th and 21st century literature (Britain, U.S., and France) and her book, Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel, is coming out in fall 2020. She wishes there had been a program like Berkeley Connect at her large undergraduate institution and is looking forward to being part of the program this year!


Berkeley Connect Mentors

Andrew Barbour Andrew Barbour is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

North Carolina

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

UNC-Chapel Hill, English

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

My research investigates the interactions between science, technology, and literature from the late 18th and early 19th centuries to the present.


Cheng-Chai Chiang Cheng-Chai Chiang is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

Singapore

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

Williams College. I majored in English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

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

I research how contemporary theatre and activism grapple with a British colonial legacy–the criminalization of homosexuality–in postwar Britain, Singapore, and Hong Kong.


Frank CruzFrank Cruz is a recent PhD recipient in English.

Where did you grow up?

Oxnard and Ventura, CA

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

Berkeley (CC transfer); English

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

American cultural studies and Chicanx cultural studies.


Jason de Stefano Jason de Stefano is a recent PhD recipient in English.

Where did you grow up?

New Jersey

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

The University of Chicago; English

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

My research focuses on literature and art in the nineteenth century and primarily in the United States. My dissertation is about the history of the idea of creativity.


Sarah Sands Rice Sarah Sands Rice is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

I went to Colorado College, where I majored in English with a minor in Anthropology.

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

I study how poets, preachers, and anatomists thought about the relationship between religion and human anatomy amidst the rise of dissection in early modern Europe. My research ranges from Milton’s poetry and Donne’s devotional writings to delightfully odd anatomy treatises.


Michelle Ripplinger Michelle Ripplinger (Spring 2021) is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

Ogden, UT

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

I went to Princeton. I was an English major and minored in Medieval Studies.

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

My research focuses on representations of women readers in the literature of late medieval England. I’m interested in how the idea of the woman reader became a focal point for thinking about the nature of interpretation, as well as what these representations can teach us about the place of women and gender in medieval literary thought.


Atti Viragh Atti Viragh (Fall 2020) is a PhD candidate in English.

Where did you grow up?

Boston

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

Columbia University, where I studied English and Comparative Literature.

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

I work on literary and intellectual history, focusing on how nineteenth-century poetry, science and philosophy engage with each another.


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.

Here is our schedule of events for the semester. You’ll meet with your group every second week and have one-on-one meetings with your mentor twice over the course of the semester. We’re also scheduling main events where we’ll all talk online with English department faculty and Berkeley English Alums. There will also be a virtual field trip to the Berkeley Art Museum/Berkeley Hearst Museum.

Schedule:

Aug 25/26/27 Small Group Welcome Meetings: What does it mean to be at Berkeley online?

Sept. 1/2/3: Small group meetings: Introductions and Re-introductions

(Mon., Sept. 7, Labor Day holiday; no classes and office closed)  

Week of Sept. 7: One-on-one meeting with your mentor

Sept. 15/16/17: Small group meetings: What is work in the English department?

(Wed., Sept. 16, Deadline for undergraduates to add/drop classes or swap/change)

(Mon., Sept. 7, Presidents’ Day holiday; no classes and office closed) 

Thur., Sept 24, 5:00-6:00pm: MAIN EVENT: Getting Things Done during Quarantine. Panel with Professors Samuel Otter, Dora Zhang, Catherine Flynn

Sept. 29/30/Oct. 1: Small group meetings: Connecting with Your Professor

Tuesday, Oct 6, 5:00-6:00 pm: ENGLISH DEPARTMENT ALUMNI CAREER PANEL

Oct. 13/14/15: Small group meetings: Dealing with Blocks

Week of Oct. 19: One-on-one meeting with your mentor

Oct. 27/28/29: Small group meetings: Social Time

Nov. 3/4/5: Small group meetings: Growing as a writer

(Fri. Oct. 30, Deadline for undergraduates to change grading options)

Week of Nov. 9 (Date TBD) 5:00-6:00 pm: MAIN EVENT: CAREERS WITH A DEGREE IN ENGLISH: Conversation with Ubisoft Programmers

(Nov. 11, Veterans Day; no classes and office closed)

Nov. 17/18/19: Small group meetings: Writing for Different Audiences

Week of Nov. 23: FIELD TRIP: VIRTUAL TOUR of BERKELEY ART MUSEUM/BERKELEY HEARST MUSEUM

(Wed., Nov. 25, Non-instructional day; Thurs., Nov. 26 Thanksgiving!)

Dec. 1/2/3: Small group meetings: Conclusions

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

Schedule

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, cflynn@berkeley.edu.

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

Links & Resources

Creative-Writing Peer Workshops