As one of the larger departments at UC Berkeley (there are roughly 700 majors), the English Department can be a daunting place for an undergraduate trying to navigate the requirements of the major. While the Department has an Undergraduate Adviser on staff as well as a professor who counsels students, there is another resource for students that is somewhat less intimidating but no less “official,” namely the English Undergraduate Association (EUA).
Sophomore Xianhui Dong is currently the EUA president, and she describes the organization as a group of English majors that is autonomous from the department itself but offers a meeting ground for students who have declared – or who are interested in declaring – the English major. She sees the EUA as trying to make the extensive resources of the department as accessible as possible to the “general” student. It’s a place to find out more information about subjects that affect English majors, a kind of “curricular” extra-curricular that aims to supplement the department support system. When you have a question about which pre-1800 course to take, or what a certain professor is like, an EUA meeting is a good place to start looking for answers.
Indeed, the group meets every Tuesdays, usually in the Wheeler Lounge, sometimes to discuss issues or problems facing undergraduate majors but more often to implement one of the many events that they put on every year. One of their main events are several “Meet the Professor” nights, in which a faculty member sits down with the members who attend to answer questions about anything from Milton’s imagery or Dickens’ characters to the professor’s academic pursuits or how one should best “prepare” for office hours. (The answer to the last is invariably, no “preparation” needed – just come and say hello!) It is events like these that try to make relating to professors as easy and as unintimidating as possible.
Additionally, the EUA hosts an annual Graduate School discussion panel, in which current graduate students and faculty answer questions about admissions, preparation and the general experience of advanced literary study. This year the EUA is also seeking to start a magazine of literary criticism, titled The Folio, that will include both information and recommendations about the department and pieces of literary criticism written by undergraduates. Currently, there are a number of places to publish creative work, but no forum in which to make undergraduate critical work available to an audience beyond one’s own professor. Lastly, each year the EUA puts on a play that is rarely otherwise staged. Past productions have been Milton’s Samson Agonistes or Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (an account of which can be found here). Stay tuned for the announcement about this year’s play.
For now, anyone interested in learning more about the EUA and the English major in general can visit their website or attend one of their Tuesday meetings. Feel free to stop by!