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

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Inventing counterfactual histories — such as a Europe that never threw off Hitler, or a second term for JFK — is a common pastime of modern day historians. Gallagher probes how counterfactual history works and to what ends.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Exploring the idea of "intimations" - social interactions that approach outright communication but do not quite reach it - G. R. F. (John) Ferrari offers a new framework for understanding different ways in which we communicate with each other.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

In his study of the coevolution of radio and the novel in Argentina, Cuba, and the United States, McEnaney explores how novelists in the radio age transformed realism as they struggled to channel and shape popular power.

Sweet Science: Romantic Materialism and the New Logics of Life

Amanda Jo Goldstein
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Today we do not expect poems to carry scientifically valid information — but this was not always the case. Sweet Science explores how Romantic poetry served as an important tool for scientific inquiry.

Jan Brueghel and the Senses of Scale

Elizabeth Honig
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

In the first book-length study of Jan Brueghel, Pieter’s son, Professor of History of Art Elizabeth Honig reveals how the artist’s tiny detail-filled paintings questioned conceptions of distance, dimension, and style.

Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War

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

George W. Bush's War on Terror has led to seventeen years of armed conflict, making it the longest war in US history. Professor Mark Danner examines this state of perpetual struggle and its widespread acceptance in the name of American security.

1668: The Year of the Animal in France

Peter Sahlins
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of History Peter Sahlins explores the “animal moment” in and around 1668, in which French authors, anatomists, painters, sculptors, and especially the young Louis XIV turned their attention to nonhuman beings.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

In his study of High Renaissance art, Professor of English James Turner demonstrates the surprisingly close connection between explicitly pornographic art and the canonical works of masters such as Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.