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

Autobiography of an Archive: A Scholar's Passage to India

Nicholas B. Dirks
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks’ book recounts his early study of kingship in India, the rise of the caste system, the emergence of English imperial interest in controlling markets and India's political regimes, and the development of a crisis in sovereignty that led to an extraordinary nationalist struggle.

Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade

Winnie Wong
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Rhetoric Winnie Wong’s book explores contemporary art in the world's largest production center for oil-on-canvas painting and shows how its painters force us to reexamine preconceptions about creativity and the role of Chinese workers in redefining global art.

Risk and Rationality

Lara Buchak
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Philosophy Lara Buchak's book analyzes the principles governing rational decision-making in the face of risk.

Language of Dreams

Myra Melford
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Music Myra Melford’s interdisciplinary project, inspired by Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy, incorporates music, movement, video, and spoken text.

Our Word Is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts

Marianne Constable
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Rhetoric Marianne Constable’s book proposes understanding law as language, rather than as primarily rules, policy, or force.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Ethnic Studies Raúl Coronado’s book focuses on how eighteenth-century Texas Mexicans used writing to remake the social fabric in the midst of war and how a Latino literary and intellectual life was born in the New World.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of Scandinavian Linda Rugg’s new book explores how non-documentary narrative art films create new forms of collaborative self-representation and selfhood.

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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of French Debarati Sanyal’s forthcoming book examines the ways in which literature and film from the French-speaking world have repeatedly sought not to singularize the Holocaust as the paradigm of historical trauma, but rather to connect its memory with other memories of atrocity.

A General Theory of Visual Culture

Whitney Davis
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Professor of History of Art Whitney Davis’ book presents a new and original framework for understanding visual culture.