Young Jean Lee, Photo by Gene Pittman courtesy Walker Art Center
On April 1, the English Department will be having its second event in its new series, “Conversations with Distinguished Alumni/ae.” Professors Catherine Gallagher and Scott Saul will be talking with playwright Young Jean Lee, who received her BA, with highest honors, in 1996. Young Jean went on to spend six more years as a PhD student in the Department where she focused on Renaissance literature under the mentorship of Professor Stephen Booth, whose own acerbic wit and willingness to shock his own audiences into thought finds their echos in Young Jean’s work. After what she calls a “quarter-life crisis” in 2002, she decided to abandon academia to try her hand [...]
The first volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett has been published, and it was no small accomplishment. As Nicholas Lezard at the Guardian notes, “the breadth of allusion, and the allusive and elusive wordplay you might have expected between intimate and highly educated correspondents (“‘nastorquemada nyles’ has not been identified with certainty,” say the editors, and I can’t say I blame them)” made transforming the corpus of correspondence into something readable a daunting task. Apparently he even had terrible handwriting, which he called his “foul fist.” But since the writer’s famous privacy didn’t stop him from writing a staggering number of letters, the idea of “the authentic early Beckettian tang, straight from the source, unmediated by artifice,” is a [...]
In what follows, graduate student Austin Grossman tells how he came to write and publish his novel Soon I Will Be Invincible during his time in the Ph. D. program. He talks about the process of creating the novel, learning how to move back and forth between creative and academic writing and the unexpected twists and turns that are integral to a life of letters.
The novel is a literary treatment of the the interior life of people enmeshed in a culture of superheroes and supervillains. As Austin puts it, “I can only describe it as silly and serious at the same time.”
I started in the English Ph. D. program in the fall of 2001. I knew Berkeley didn’t have [...]
On Thursday, March 12, 2009, Professor Robert Hass gave the first of this year’s Faculty Research Lectures, the full text of which follows here.
AN OAK GROVE
Thank you. It is an honor and a bit daunting to be here today. Since I don’t actually do research so much as read around to try to put my thoughts in order, I thought I would subject you to that process this afternoon. My subject is thinking about thinking about nature and my thesis is that we don’t do it very well. By “we” I mean citizens and poets and scholars in the humanities and perhaps the university community as a community. When I was asked to give this talk, I threw some words [...]
This past fall sophomore English major Sarah Watson enrolled in Professor Eric Falci’s ENGL 180L: Lyric Verse. Reading the semester’s course descriptions, she had been intrigued by the course’s claim that much of the semester would be spent “sorting out what the title of this course means.” When it went on to mention an exceedingly diverse list of poets — from Sappho to Dickinson, Marvell to Ashbery — along with a no less various catalogue of critical concepts — chaos theory, cognitive science, ecology — she wasn’t exactly sure what she was in for, but she knew it would be fascinating. The wide-ranging concerns of the course actually coincided with Sarah’s own academic orientations because, in addition to majoring in [...]
Everyone is excited that we have a new picture of the Bard. And isn’t he a looker! As reported in the NYT:
“His face is open and alive, with a rosy, rather sweet expression, perhaps suggestive of modesty…There is nothing superior or haughty in the subject, which one might well expect to find in a face set off by such rich clothing. It is the face of a good listener, as well as of someone who exercised a natural restraint.”
While the LA Times cheered that we are now blessed with a “hot young Shakespeare,” the Irish Times and Irish independent are quick to point out that the portrait hung for years winking at an Irish house in an Irish family.
Verlyn Klinkenborg [...]
This week we present a third-installment of graduate student Annie McClanahan’s account of teaching at San Quentin correctional facility with the Prison University Project. Annie has contributed two previous posts on this topic, in which she addresses, first, the nature of the program in general and a short account of the class she most recently taught and, second, the nature of the prison itself as well as that of the students she teaches. In what follows, Annie speaks more pointedly on frequently asked questions about issues of safety and academic achievement specific to prison teaching.
Are you scared?/Is it safe?
The short answer is that no, I’m not, and yes, it is. In one way, it’s often very easy [...]
In a TLS review, Jonathan Bate suggests that Milton has been a mirror which each era’s biographers have used to reflect their professional self-image. “For Masson,” he writes “it was sufficient to be clubbable around the Athenaeum. For William Empson in the following century, the professor of literature could be the naughty schoolboy throwing paper darts from the back row of the classroom (the Christian-baiting of Milton’s God).” In reviewing Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns’ new biography, then, Bate notes that we see, in turn, “a Milton who would have been at home in the corridors of New Labour power or in the managerialized modern university. He is a nimble committee man, like some wily pro-vice-chancellor who proudly wears [...]
In last week’s post, we focused on the ways in which two current graduate students are
Artwork currently on display at the Alphonse Berber Gallery.
leveraging the new media of the blogosphere to disseminate critical thinking on history and literature in broad new ways. This week, we bring you examples of a different, perhaps more “concrete” kind of outreach by describing the efforts of the Department’s students to get out into the community with their thoughts on art and literature by opening a new art gallery and participating in poetry conversations on the radio.
Indeed, undergraduates Cameron Jackson and Jessica Cox have dived headlong into the community in their roles as co-directors of the newly opened Alphonse Berber Gallery on Bancroft Avenue [...]