Author: Darrend Brown

FAQ Series – What are the requirements for the English major?

FAQ Series What are the requirements for the English major?   In this video, Katie explains ALL the requirements needed to get your undergraduate degree in English at Cal! Follow along with us on social media for updates, and feel free to reach out if you have a question you’d like to see filmed for the series!   YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSYlJV9oh2YxoTgYSrGjrUg...

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FAQ Series – What is an elective?

FAQ Series What is an elective?   Welcome to our FAQ series, where our wonderful undergraduate advisor will be answering commonly asked questions about the English major at UC Berkeley. Follow along with us on social media for updates, and feel free to reach out if you have a question you’d like to see filmed for the series!   YouTube:...

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In memory of Professor John Bishop

Headnote by Professor Eric Falci, followed by a tribute written by Mitch Breitwieser and Eric Falci upon John’s retirement in 2011. Former students and colleagues have organized a virtual celebration to be held on June 16th, 2020. Details and Zoom link included below, and on our Events page.  Celebration of the Life of John Bishop June 16th (Bloomsday) 10 AM...

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The Zambian-American Perspective: an Interview with Namwali Serpell

By Lucia Salazar and Francesca Hodges Professor Namwali Serpell’s debut novel, The Old Drift (2019), demonstrates her prowess as a fiction writer. It was an immediate success: a New York Times bestseller and recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction. The Old Drift discloses Serpell’s Zambian-American perspective and the multiplicity of her environments. “It is about Zambia”, she told us,...

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An Interview with Poet and Professor Lyn Hejinian

Students Emma Campbell, Kahyun Koh, and Anya Vertanessian asked Lyn Hejinian a series of questions about her career and life in the English Department. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in poetry? How would you describe your poetic style? LH: I think the first inspiration was my father’s typewriter. On weekdays he worked in the administration at...

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Maxine Hong Kingston: The Spearhead of Asian American Studies and Literature

By Lucia Salazar Maxine Hong Kingston, the critically acclaimed author of The Woman Warrior (1976), China Men (1980), and Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989), graduated from UC Berkeley with an English degree in 1962 and returned as an English department faculty member in 1990. Her work has garnered a number of high-profile awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, a Guggenheim...

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Joan Didion: A Unique Sensibility in a Time of Gender Conformity

By Julia Cunningham Joan Didion, a writer who first garnered great attention and praise for her literary essays about American subcultures of the 1960s, is one of many acclaimed authors to have started their careers at Berkeley. Sprinkled among fashion articles and makeup advertisements, much of Didion’s early writing originally appeared on the pages of the “women’s magazines” of her...

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Alumna and writer Kim Chernin remembers Dorothee Finkelstein

by Kim Chernin The perennial question about memory: how much should we trust it?  I’ve been asked to write about my favorite English teacher at Berkeley in the early 1960s, but after fifty-six years I know my memory might play tricks, might even make things up in an effort to be true to what happened. Memory is probably the original...

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Forgotten Chapters of Department History: #2 Professor Dorothee Finkelstein

by Natalie Stone Although adversity is often considered a routine condition of human life, rarely does it forge an academic and personal strength as resolute as that of Professor Dorothee Finkelstein, the second woman to be tenured in the English Department. Escaping the Russian Revolution as a young child and later immigrating to Britain to escape the threat of Nazi-dominated...

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Josephine Miles: Poet and First Tenured Professor in English

By Emma Campbell, Kahyun Koh, and Anya Vertanessian Born in Chicago on June 11th, 1911, Josephine Miles was an acclaimed poet, professor, literary critic, and a vital part of the Berkeley community. In 1947, she became the first woman to be awarded tenure in the English Department, eighty years after its founding, and she was the sole tenured woman for...

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Professor Catherine Flynn reflects on Ella Young and the history of Irish Studies

by Catherine Flynn Ella Young was a complex character and central to the building up of Celtic Studies at Berkeley. During her ten years as James D. Phelan Lecturer in Irish Myth and Lore, she gave lectures at Columbia, Smith, Vassar and Mills. As a woman holding a prestigious lectureship, she was exceptional for her time. However, she emerged at...

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Forgotten Chapters of Department History:  #1 Ella Young’s Lectureship

by Kamila Kaminska-Palarczyk The first woman to hold an endowed lectureship in the English Department was a celebrity. She entered the department through the Celtic Studies program, the first degree-granting program of its kind in the country, created in 1911. Two decades later the program appointed Irish writer Ella Young as the Phelan Memorial Lecturer in Celtic Mythology and Literature....

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Lucy Sprague: First Woman on the Berkeley Faculty (1906-1912)

By Amanda Styles Among the many female faculty members of the English department throughout its history, Lucy Sprague Mitchell stands out as the one who never focused her studies in English. She majored in philosophy during her undergraduate education at Radcliffe (the female “annex” to Harvard). Sprague’s six years in the Berkeley English Department as an Assistant Professor came about...

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