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.

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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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| Online

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

#identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation

Abigail De Kosnik and Keith Feldman, editors
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

This collected volume offers a critical interdisciplinary view on how and why social media is at the heart of contemporary political discourse.

Hello Leonora, Soy Anne Walsh

Anne Walsh
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall
In her response to surrealist painter Leonora Carrington’s feminist novella, The Hearing Trumpet, Anne Walsh uses a variety of media to cast herself as an “apprentice crone” who studies and rehearses the trauma of old age.
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Grace Lavery examines the contradictory role — as both rival empire and cradle of exquisite beauty — played by Japan in the Victorian imagination.

Seeds of Resistance: The Fight to Save Our Food Supply

Mark Schapiro
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Three-quarters of the seed varieties on earth in 1900 are now extinct, and more than half of the remaining commercial seeds are owned by three large companies. Mark Schapiro examines the fate of our food supply under the pressures of corporate consolidation.

None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life

Stephen Best
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Questioning the assumption that the slave past provides an explanatory prism for understanding the black political present, Stephen Best offers a new way of understanding the constitution of black subjectivity.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Alva Noë explores the many unexpected ways in which baseball is truly a philosophical kind of game — a window on language, culture, and the nature of human action, intertwined with deep and fundamental human truths.

Wednesday, Sep 25, 2019 12:00 pm
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Imagine trying to tell someone something about yourself and your desires for which there are no words. Michael Lucey examines characters from 20th-century French literary texts whose sexual forms prove difficult to conceptualize or represent.

Bob Dylan's Poetics: How the Songs Work

Timothy Hampton
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Timothy Hampton’s close examination of Bob Dylan's songs locates the artist’s transgressive style within a long history of modern (and modernist) art.

Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places: Justice Beyond and Between

Marianne Constable, Leti Volpp, and Bryan Wagner, editors
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

For many, the right place to look for law is in constitutions, statutes, and judicial opinions. This book looks for law in the “wrong places” — in the realms of language, text, image, culture, and other sites in which no formal law appears.