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.

-
| 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.

-
| Online

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.

-
| Online

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
-
| 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.

-
| Online

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
-
| 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

Death Be Not Proud: The Art of Holy Attention

David Marno
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Death Be Not Proud: The Art of Holy Attention traces the role of attentiveness in philosophy, prayer, and devotional poetry, exploring a tradition of striving for a mental state devoid of distraction.

Improvised Continent: Pan-Americanism and Cultural Exchange

Richard Cándida Smith
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Illuminating the story of how cultural exchange programs brought many of the most important Latin American artists and writers to the United States, Richard Cándida Smith explores Pan-American cultural exchange in the twentieth century.

The Rhetoric of Hiddenness in Traditional Chinese Culture

Paula Varsano, editor
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

This volume brings together fourteen essays that explore the role of hiddenness—as both an object and a mode of representation—in the history of cultural production in China.

-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Julia Fawcett examines the stages, pages, and streets of eighteenth-century London as England's first modern celebrities performed their own strange and spectacular self-representations.

Fray: Art and Textile Politics

Julia Bryan-Wilson
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Examining the role of handmaking amid the rise of global manufacturing, Fray explores how textiles inhabit the broad space between high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.

Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom

Abigail De Kosnik
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Rogue Archives examines the rise of self-designated archivists—fans, pirates, hackers—who have become practitioners of cultural preservation on the Internet, building freely accessible online collections of content.

-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Invisible Hands traces the rise in eighteenth-century Europe of a belief in self-organization—such that large systems, whether natural or human-made, are seen as capable of creating their own order, without any need for external direction.