Welcome to the English Department Online!

In an article in the September 7 issue of The New York Times Magazine, entitled “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy,” Clive Thompson discusses the way that a rise in social networking applications is (unsurprisingly) changing the kinds of relationships we are having. He points out that web applications like Facebook and Twitter explodes the number of “weak ties” – the term sociologists use for loose acquaintances with whom one is more or less friendly – a person is able to cultivate and maintain. Any member of a networking site like Facebook has had the experience of reading all about someone with whom they haven’t spoken in years. It’s both exhilarating and disorienting, but whatever it is, it is redefining what it means to be part of a “community.”

It is our hope, here at the Berkeley English Department, that this blog will help to increase and strengthen the “weak ties” that the alumni and friends maintain with us. For those of you who aren’t local, we hope this blog will be a way for you to keep in better touch about a place where you once spent some formative time. For those of you who are local, we hope it will reveal a different side of the Department, one that is impossible to show in formal events which the Department sponsors. Indeed, a blog seems like a great way to foster a sense of academic community for those off and even on campus, since the nature of intellectual pursuits sometimes inhibits close personal interactions. (It is never harder to make friends than when one has one’s nose stuck in a book.)

So, check back to this site for announcements of on-campus happenings like lectures, events and readings, for everyday mundane anecdotes of goings-on in Wheeler Hall, for reports of the amazing achievements of our students and faculty, for updates on our continuing fundraising process. We hope that it eases the difficulty of staying in touch and makes you feel a part (however technologically mediated) of our community.