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

The Work of the Dead

Thomas Laqueur
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of History Thomas Laqueur's book, The Work of the Dead, offers a richly detailed account of how and why the living have cared for the dead, from antiquity to the twentieth century.

Greek Models of Mind and Self

Anthony Long
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor Emeritus of Classics Anthony Long’s book offers a wide-ranging study of Greek notions of mind and human selfhood from Homer through Plotinus.

-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Philosophy John MacFarlane’s book gives a clear account of what it is to be a relativist about truth and uses this view to provide a fresh perspective of parts of our thought and speech that have resisted traditional methods of analysis.

A Play, An Opera, The Tango

Philip Kan Gotanda
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies Philip Kan Gotanda will read and discuss excerpts from three current projects Remember the I-Hotel (play), Both Eyes Open (opera), and Chelsea & Rodney’s Tango (video).

On The Wire

Linda Williams
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor Emerita of Film & Media and Rhetoric Linda Williams’ book examines the HBO television series The Wire (2002-2008). She argues that the series transforms close observation into an unparalleled melodrama by juxtaposing the good and evil of individuals and institutions. Introduction by Professor Alan Tansman.

-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures Luba Golburt's book examines the complex place of the eighteenth century in the subsequent Russian literary tradition, tracing how later Russian writers paradoxically view the epoch as both formative and obsolete. Introduction by Professor Harsha Ram.

Enduring Truths: Sojourner's Shadows and Substance

Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Art History Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby’s book illustrates how a runaway slave, Sojourner Truth, gained fame in the nineteenth century as an abolitionist, feminist, and orator and earned a living partly by selling photographic images of herself at lectures and by mail.

Romantic Anatomies of Performance

James Davies
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Music James Davies’ book explores the very matter of musical experience; the hands and voices of virtuosic musicians and singers who plied their trade between London and Paris in the nineteenth century.

The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector

Katrina Dodson
Berkeley Book Chats
-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Katrina Dodson’s recent translation of Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories (New Directions, 2015) collects for the first time all 85 short stories by one of Brazil’s most important writers.

-
| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures Irina Paperno gives an account of Tolstoy's lifelong attempt to find adequate ways to represent the self, to probe its limits, and to arrive at an identity not based on the bodily self and its accumulated life experience.