Jo Alvarado wins the American Cultures Essay Prize

Berkeley English honors student Jo Alvarado has received the American Cultures Essay Prize for her essay “Loving What Goes Away: Ross Gay’s Gratitude for Loss and Life.” Alvarado’s essay was written in Professor John Alba Cutler’s 166AC course “Racial Joy,” offered in the Department of English this past Spring. Congratulations, Jo! The prizewinning essay responds to a prompt from the...

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Berkeley English ranked #1 graduate program by U.S. News

The English Department has been ranked #1 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 national graduate program rankings. The high ranking of the department as a whole resulted from the high ranking of our field specialties, as follows: #1 in American Literature After 1865 #1 in Gender and Literature #2 in 18th Through 20th Century British Literature #2 in African-American...

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Elisa Tamarkin’s Apropos of Something: A History of Irrelevance and Relevance

Professor Elisa Tamarkin’s Apropos of Something: A History of Irrelevance and Relevance (University of Chicago Press, 2022) is released this month. Before 1800 nothing was irrelevant. So argues Elisa Tamarkin’s sweeping meditation on a key shift in consciousness: the arrival of relevance as the means to grasp how something that was once disregarded, unvalued, or lost to us becomes interesting...

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Featured Summer Courses

For a full list of summer course selections, click here English R1B: Thinking through Memory in Poetry and Fiction with Dana Swensen Summer Session A: May 23 – July 1 How and why do we remember? What does ‘memory’ mean to both an individual and a culture? How do fictional narrators construct their memorial landscapes? In this class we will...

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Edwidge Danticat | Once Upon an Endless Night: Storytelling and the legends that made me a writer

For information on the Bedri Distinguished Writer Series, including past and forthcoming events, please visit the Series’ website. Join us for a public lecture with Edwidge Danticat, the Spring 2022 Bedri Distinguished Writer, on Thursday, April 28th at 8:00 PM in 315 Wheeler Hall (the Maude Fife Room). A smaller, department-only Q&A will take place earlier in the day at...

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2022 Gayley Lecture | “First Thing Smokin’ “: A Trajectory Concerning Railroad Sense | C.S. Giscombe

April 19 at 8pm in the Maude Fife Room (315 Wheeler Hall) The 2022 Gayley Lecture will be given by Cecil S. Giscombe, Professor and Robert Hass Chair in English. The talk’s an inquiry into the status of the railroad as a complicated series of facts in Black life and art and will be drawn, in large part, from materials...

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April 30 | The Ones Who Leave by Nagahara Hideaki

A Stage Reading of Nagahara Hideaki’s –The Ones Who Leave– translated by Andrew Way Leong with Q & A moderated by Philip Kan Gotanda. About this event The Ones Who Leave (Sariyukumono, 去り行く者, 1927) is the only surviving play of Nagahara Hideaki, a Los Angeles-based author who wrote for a Japanese-language audience in the mid-1920s. The Ones Who Leave depicts the struggles of the...

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Read Along with Berkeley English

There is still time to join our Spring 2022 seminars! If you are like many graduates, your seminars count among your most vivid college memories. We’d like to share that experience with you again by inviting you to read along with the two current seminars highlighted below. For each seminar, we provide selected readings and discussion questions, along with an invitation...

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Hannah Zeavin’s The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy

In The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy (MIT Press, 2021), English Department Lecturer Hannah Zeavin offers a history of psychotherapy across distance and time, from Freud’s treatments by mail to crisis hotlines, radio call-ins, chatbots, and Zoom sessions. While therapy has long understood itself as taking place in a room, with two (or more) people engaged in person-to-person conversation, psychotherapy has...

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Danielle Evans, Author of The Office of Historical Corrections in conversation with Beth Piatote, Author of The Beadworkers

The Department of English and the New Literary Project present the winner of the 2021 New Literary Project Joyce Carol Oates Prize, Danielle Evans. Danielle Evans is the author of the story collections The Office of Historical Corrections (Riverhead, 2020) and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead, 2010), which won the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the...

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Bad Seed: Monstrosity, Horror, and the Inhuman in Children’s Literature

Prof: Poulomi Saha Course Description: From cannibalistic witches to sadistic parents to dystopian hellscapes, children’s literature is rife with terrifying figures and dark themes. This class will look at forms of monstrosity, deviance, and horror within a variety of texts that are so often figured as cute, sweet, or safe, and explore why it is that there is such pleasure...

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Harlem Renaissance

Professors: Bryan Wagner and Christine Palmer This course will explore the social, cultural, political, and personal awakenings in the culture of the Harlem Renaissance. Roughly between 1918-1930, in the midst of racial segregation and increasing anti-Black violence, Black American writers reclaimed the right to represent themselves in a wide range of artistic forms and activist movements. We’ll consider how artists...

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D.A. Miller’s Second Time Around: From Art House to DVD

In Second Time Around: From Art House to DVD (Columbia University Press, 2021), Professor D.A. Miller watches digitally restored films by directors from Mizoguchi to Pasolini and from Hitchcock to Honda, looking to find not only what he saw in them as a young man, but also what he was then kept from seeing by quick camerawork, normal projection speed, missing...

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Cecil Giscombe and Judith Margolis: Train Music

A poet and a book artist take a train across the United States, creating and conversing along the way.  Cecil Giscombe and Judith Margolis recently published Train Music, a collaborative travelogue that explores race and gender with a mix of poetry, prose, and visual art.   In Train Music, Giscombe’s narrative disjunctions and Margolis’ figurative abstractions crisscross at a roundhouse (‘I’m not...

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