The Townsend Center supports faculty and student research and scholarship through a variety of outlets.


Our print newsletter, published each semester, covers Townsend Center programming.

In this issue:

  • Director's Letter
  • Avenali Lecturer Jill Lepore
  • Artist Ken Light
  • Spring Berkeley Book Chats
  • Joyce Carol Oates, Art of Writing

In this issue:

  • Director's Letter
  • Una's Lecturer Paul Chan
  • Photographer Ken Light
  • Fall Book Chats
  • Thinking about Composition

In this issue:

  • Director's Letter
  • Una's Lecturer Maggie Nelson
  • Artist Livia Stein
  • Spring Berkeley Book Chats
  • PhD Professional Development

In this issue:

  • Director's Letter
  • Avenali Chair Todd Gitlin
  • Artist Kara Maria
  • Fall Berkeley Book Chats
  • Art of Writing

In this issue:

  • Director's Letter
  • Avenali Chair Joseph Leo Koerner
  • Artist Michael Hall
  • Spring Berkeley Book Chats
  • A Book is Born

In this issue:

  • Music & Virtuosity
  • Una's Lecturer Ben Ratliff
  • Artist Jennie Smith
  • Fall Berkeley Book Chats
  • 2017-18 Fellows

Bear's Eye View

Bear's-Eye View is a chronicle of students' engagement with the vibrant humanities culture at the Townsend Center and across the Berkeley campus. Each semester our undergraduate humanities writers soak up the wealth of humanities programs and events, and write about what they've learned.

Berkeley Forum in the Humanities

The Berkeley Forum in the Humanities, published by Fordham University Press, features topics of broad interest in the humanities and interpretive social sciences, with a focus on the work cultivated at the Townsend Center. The series presents work that is richly contextual along historical and social lines, while critical and challenging in its views.

Marianne Constable, Let Volpp, Bryan Wagner

For many inside and outside the legal academy, the right place to look for law is in constitutions, statutes, and judicial opinions. This book looks for law in the “wrong places” — sites and spaces in which no formal law appears. These may be geographic regions beyond the reach of law, everyday practices ungoverned or ungovernable by law, or works of art that have escaped law’s constraints.

Freud and Monotheism: Moses and the Violent Origins of Religion critically examines a range of discourses surrounding Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, taking as its entry point Freud’s relations to Judaism, his conception of tradition and history, his theory of the mind, and his model of transgenerational inheritance.

Plasticity and Pathology: On the Formation of the Neural Subject brings together diverse scholars interested in the historical and conceptual problems of life and particularly the life of human beings in the neural age. 

Malcolm Bull, Anthony J. Cascardi, and T.J. Clark

Malcolm Bull offers a detailed analysis of nihilism in Nietzsche's works. Along with accompanying commentaries by Cascardi and Clark, he explores the significance of Nietzscheís views given the fact that a wide range of readers have come to embrace his ideas as new orthodoxy. There seem to be no anti-Nietzscheans today, but Bull demonstrates that this wide embrace of Nietzsche runs counter to the very meaning of nihilism as Nietzsche understood it.

Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood

In this volume, four leading thinkers of our times confront the paradoxes and dilemmas attending the supposed stand-off between Islam and liberal democratic values. Taking the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammad as a point of departure, Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood inquire into the evaluative frameworks at stake in understanding the conflicts between blasphemy and free speech, between religious taboos and freedoms of thought and expression, and between secular and religious world views.

Jay M. Bernstein, Claudia Brodsky, Anthony J. Cascardi, Thierry de Duve, Ales Erjavec, Robert Kaufman and Fred Rush

Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970) offers one of the most powerful and comprehensive critiques of art and of the discipline of aesthetics ever written. The work offers a deeply critical engagement with the history and philosophy of aesthetics and with the traditions of European art through the middle of the 20th century. It is coupled with ambitious claims about what aesthetic theory ought to be. But the cultural horizon of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory was the world of high modernism, and much has happened since then both in theory and in practice.

Occasional Papers

The Occasional Papers series makes available some of the many lectures and conversations of eminent scholars, writers, and artists who participated in Townsend Center programs 1994-2003.

Kathleen Woodward explores the workings of reminiscence and of life review—one fragmentary, the other totalizing—and their importance, what they have to offer to a life as it passes into old age. Woodward, Scharlach, and Fabe explore these themes in terms of what they mean to human life, human relationships and the process of aging.

Changelings contains proceedings from two panels occasioned by Maurice Sendak’s visit to UC Berkeley as visiting Avenali Chair in the Humanities in 1995-1996. In “They Know Everything: Children and Suffering,” Dr. Herbert Schreier of Oakland’s Children’s Hospital highlights clinical knowledge about the durability of trauma and the frequent inability of onlookers, especially parents, to see the effects of trauma on both children and adults. In the second part of this volume, “Mozart, Shakespeare and the Art of Maurice Sendak,” Professors Stephen Greenblatt and Wye Allanbrook engage with Sendak in a discussion of Mozart and Shakespeare that is also an exploration of how Sendak’s interpretation of the themes of childhood, adolescence, and transformation into adulthood enhances our experience of these canonical artists.

Opera and theater director, teacher, and activist, Peter Sellars muses on the possibilities of art and inspiration in a world without government funding.

Migrations: The Work of Sebastião Salgado was one of several events scheduled by the Townsend Center in celebration of Sebastião Salgado's residency as Avenali Lecturer for academic year 2001–2002. Planned to complement the Berkeley Art Museum exhibit, Salgado’s lecture—reproduced here in a slightly edited form—was followed the next day by a panel of commentators whose remarks are also included in this Occasional Paper.

Cannabis, Forgetting, and the Botany of Desire includes the proceedings of several events scheduled by the Townsend Center in celebration of Michael Pollan's residency as Avenali Lecturer for the 2002 Fall Semester. This Occasional Paper includes transcripts of the public lecture Pollan gave as well as the comments of a panel organized to explore the environmental impact of food production in general.

Poet Robert Pinsky and artist Michael Mazur discuss their collaboration in producing, as translator and illustrator, respectively, the most recent translation of Dante’s Inferno. The dialogue turns into a lively consideration of writing, hearing, and seeing texts.


Respresentations Journal Cover

Representations is an interdisciplinary journal in the humanities and interpretive social sciences published quarterly by the University of California Press.

Visit Website