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

Kate Heslop approaches Viking Age poetry through an innovative interpretive framework that considers the texts as pieces in a premodern multimedia landscape. 

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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| Online

Sophie Volpp considers fictional objects of the late Ming and Qing that defy being read as illustrative of historical things, and are instead often signs of fictionality itself.

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| Online

In her history of the idea of "relevance" since the 19th century, Elisa Tamarkin explores the term as a means to grasp how something once disregarded, unvalued, or lost becomes interesting and important.

Past Events

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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.

How to Be Free: An Ancient Guide to the Stoic Life

Translated and with an introduction by Anthony Long
Berkeley Book Chats
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| Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

Born a slave, the ancient Roman Stoic philosopher Epictetus taught that mental freedom is supreme, since it can liberate one anywhere, even in a prison. Anthony Long presents a new edition of Epictetus’s famed handbook on Stoicism.