Berkeley Book Chats

The Townsend Center presents a lunchtime series celebrating the intellectual and artistic endeavors of the UC Berkeley faculty. Each Berkeley Book Chat features a faculty member engaged in conversation about a recently completed publication, performance, or recording. The series highlights the extraordinary breadth and depth of Berkeley’s academic community.

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| Online

Approaching the seven-day week as an artificial construction of modern society, David Henkin explores its role as a dominant organizational principle that shapes our understanding and experience of time.

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Edward Tyerman explores the role of China in the 1920s as the key site for Soviet debates over how the political project of socialist internationalism should be expressed through literature, film, and theater.

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SanSan Kwan explores how dance — based in body-to-body interaction on the stage — serves as a revelatory site, and ultimately carries the potential to model everyday encounters across difference in the world.

Homer: The Very Idea

James Porter
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Online

The identity of Homer is shrouded in mystery, including doubts that he was an actual person. James Porter explores Homer’s mystique, approaching the poet not as a man, but as a cultural invention.

Behaviorism, Consciousness, and the Literary Mind

Joshua Gang
Berkeley Book Chats
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What might behaviorism, that debunked school of psychology, tell us about literature? Joshua Gang argues for its enormous critical value for thinking about why language is so good at creating illusions of mental life.

Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History

Timothy Hampton
Berkeley Book Chats
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Exploring cheerfulness as a theme and structuring element in the work of major artists, Timothy Hampton (Comparative Literature and French) casts new light on literary history, the intersections of culture and psychology, and the history of emotions.

Past Events

The Novel and the New Ethics

Dorothy Hale
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Online

A generation of contemporary Anglo-American novelists has championed the ethical value of literature. Dorothy Hale explores the modernist roots of this “new” emphasis on the novel’s ethical significance.

Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy

Mario Telò
Berkeley Book Chats
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Bringing an innovative synthesis of postmodern theories to bear on his reading of ancient Greek tragedy, Mario Telò offers a new way of understanding tragic aesthetics.

Midnight la Frontera

Ken Light
Berkeley Book Chats
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Documentary photographer Ken Light and author José Ángel Navejas discuss their book, which features photographs of US border patrol agents on their nighttime shifts on the Mexican border in the 1980s.

The Trouble with Literature

Victoria Kahn
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Online

Victoria Kahn argues that the literature of the English Reformation (written during the fraught years of the late 16th and 17th centuries) marks a turning point in Western thinking about literature and literariness.

In the Matter of Nat Turner: A Speculative History

Christopher Tomlins
Berkeley Book Chats
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Christopher Tomlins offers a new interpretation of Nat Turner and the slave rebellion that stunned the American South.

Human Forms: The Novel in the Age of Evolution

Ian Duncan
Berkeley Book Chats
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Ian Duncan offers a major rethinking of the European novel and its relationship to early evolutionary science.

Loving Writing / Ovid’s Amores

Ellen Oliensis
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Online

Ellen Oliensis offers a fresh approach to the Amores emphasizing the masochistic pleasures of the elegiac writing project.

James Joyce and the Matter of Paris

Catherine Flynn
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Catherine Flynn explores the ways in which James Joyce's imaginative consciousness was shaped by the paradigmatic city of European urban modernity.

The Beadworkers: Stories

Beth Piatote
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Beth Piatote’s debut short story collection is a reflection on modern Native American life.

Pindar, Song, and Space: Towards a Lyric Archaeology

Leslie Kurke and Richard Neer
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

In their study of the poet Pindar of Thebes, coauthors Leslie Kurke and Richard Neer develop a new methodological approach to classical Greece.