In February 2012 Arden Shakespeare, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, brought forth a festschrift of essays in honor of Professor Emeritus Stephen Booth: forty short essays demonstrating various sorts of close reading in honor of the closest of all close readers.
Joanna Picciotto, Associate Professor of English, received the Distinguished Teaching Award at a ceremony on April 26, 2012. This is the 26th Distinguished Teaching Award won by members of the English Department. We have won more DTAs than any other department, a record of which we can be justly proud. Read her acceptance speech here.
In what follows graduate student Rosa Martinez gives a brief account of the discussion of Professor Sue Schweik’s The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public that took place at University Press Book on September 8, 2009.[Read full post...]
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
The English Department proudly congratulates Professor Namwali Serpell on her inclusion in this year’s edition of Best American Short Stories. In what follows, Professor Serpell discusses her story, entitled “Muzungu,” as well as the relationship between her creative writing endeavors and her work as a literary critic.
As the spring semester draws the academic year to a close and the students start dispersing for home and summer jobs, the English Department’s faculty members are busy with plans and projects of their own. Many students wonder what it is that professors do in the long summer break, and what follows is a brief account of the way in which five professors will be spending this summer.
In general, faculty use the long break from teaching to conduct research and work on large writing projects. Sometimes these projects take them to far-flung places like Constantinople and Cologne, while others require long hours in the Berkeley library or the isolation of their offices in Wheeler.
For instance, Professor James Turner spent [...]
Professor Lyn Hejinian recently delivered this year’s Gayley Lecture, an annual English Department event which showcases the current research of a distinguished faculty member. The text of Professor Hejinian’s lecture, which we’re delighted to reproduce below, continues her extensive body of celebrated poetic and scholarly work. Its particular style, linking poetic diction with critical analysis, might ring some bells with students who have taken one of Hejinian’s twentieth-century literature courses and encountered those writers she has most extensively studied, virtuosos in poetry and prose alike: William Carlos Williams, for one, or the subject of this lecture, Gertrude Stein.
Stein is a writer whose status as cultural icon—symbol of Parisian cosmopolitanism and open homosexuality, standard-bearer for difficult modernist writing, target of relentless parody—tends to overshadow her actual work. Hejinian admits that she doesn’t expect anyone in her audience to have read Lucy Church Amiably, the 1927 text which is the lecture’s centerpiece. In Stein’s own lifetime the situation was little different; she feared, Hejinian tells us, that her “identity,” the fixed public self that accompanied her celebrity, might overwhelm her “human mind,” the fluid, less definable self of everyday life. Yet Hejinian contends that Stein is important precisely because she is not alone in this predicament, and that Stein’s study of the relations between time and identity, labor and freedom, has much bearing on our own age. Her lecture recovers for us a bit of Stein’s human mind and offers a fine example of what literary scholarship can be.
The English Department is delighted to announce that Professor Scott Saul is this year’s recipient of The American Cultures Innovation in Teaching Award. This campus-wide award, given by the American Cultures Center, “recognizes the use of pedagogical developments to enhance the students’ learning experience in the American Cultures classroom.” Professor Saul was awarded this distinction for the ENGL 166AC course he taught this past Fall, “Race and Performance in the 20th c. U.S.”
As the end of the semester approaches, the English Department blog is looking back at the past year. Since one of our first posts announced the new faculty who had arrived at Berkeley this year, we checked back in with Professor Emily Thornbury and Professor Namwali Serpell to see what their first years had been like. In what follows, Professors Thornbury and Serpell give two brief accounts of their experience settling in at Berkeley. Oddly enough, as you will see, spiders are the linking theme.
Professor Namwali Serpell: “Students and Spiders”
As of yesterday, one academic year has passed since I made my way across the continent to begin my time as an assistant professor in the Berkeley English Department. My office, [...]
“When teaching, it’s tempting to make it seem as if one’s ideas came effortlessly, and to hide the truth, which is that coming up to a blind wall is a permanent feature of everyone’s intellectual life,” writes the English Department’s latest winner of the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award
in his teaching philosophy
. But,” as Mitch Breitwieser reflects, “such an apparent facility on the teacher’s part can reinforce a student’s feeling that, because he or she is struggling when those around seem not to be, there must be some intrinsic personal deficiency. And feeling that way greatly reduces the chance that the intellectual problem will be solved.” He therefore tells his students, both in class and in office hours, that “academic success depends upon properly understanding that encounter with difficulty”—because failure “most often comes not from a lack of intelligence or preparation, but from a wrong choice concerning how to respond to having come up against that wall.”