Wheeler Hall Protest, A message from Department Chair Samuel Otter

On Friday November 20th, Wheeler Hall, the home of the English Department, was the scene of protest, as students took over classrooms on the second floor, and of a standoff between police and demonstrators across barricades in front of the building. The day was tense, and there were outbreaks of violence but, it appears, no major injuries. There will be inquiries into the use of force by the police. The following links to The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Daily Cal (with photos and video) provide details about the day’s events.

New York Times article

San Francisco Chronicle article

Daily Cal: Wheeler Hall Occupation Ends Peacefully

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A Conversation with David Corvo ’72

CorvoOn Monday, November 9, the English department continued its series, “Conversations with Distinguished Alumni,” in a discussion with alumnus David Corvo ’72, who is currently the Executive Producer of the prime time news magazine Dateline NBC. He was joined by Department Chair Sam Otter and Professor Namwali Serpell, who spoke with him about the the relationship between his study of English at Berkeley and his success as a broadcast journalist. [Read full post…]

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The English Undergraduate Association

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).[Read full post…]EUA President Grace Dong leads a recent meeting of the EUA.

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Notes from Postdoctoral Purgatory: A Recent PhD Reports

In what follows, Tiffany Tsao, who received her PhD in English this past Spring, reports on her life as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech. She begins with an epigraph from Dante which, she feels, encapsulates her experience so far.

…what I sing will be that second kingdom,

in which the human soul is cleansed of sin,

becoming worthy of ascent to Heaven.

(Purgatorio, Canto I.4-6)[Read full post…]

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“Robert Burns, 1759-2009: A Colloquium”

Graduate student Catherine Cronquist Browning attended the colloquium the English Department hosted to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the poet Robert Burns’ birth. What follows is a short summary of the day.

Five leading scholars in the field of Scottish Romanticism, Leith Davis, Janet Sorensen, Steve Newman, Ian Duncan, and Carol McGuirk, delivered current work on Burns to an audience of assorted faculty, graduate students, undergradutes, and other members of the department community. In fact, Wheeler 300 was packed full of eager listeners, with those who came later finding seats on tables and the floor to enjoy the rich program!

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Professor Ian Duncan Returns from Sabbatical

Our first blog post of this year detailed some reading recommendations which members of our department had read over the summer. Having just recently returned from a year-long sabbatical, Professor Ian Duncan supplied a wonderful list as well. What follows is a brief account of Professor Duncan’s doings in Turkey interspersed with a bevy of titles which might catch your eye. [Read full post…]


The view looking out over the Bosphorus and our local Greek Orthodox church from the house where Professor Duncan stayed in Istanbul

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