Berkeley Connect (Lower Division)
The "Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature" course works to make stronger connections among our undergraduates, graduate students, and professors–and with the larger campus and its various communities. Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature brings together small groups of undergrad Comp Lit majors and undeclared majors who’re interested in the study of literature; they meet with faculty members and graduate student mentors throughout the semester. Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with an experienced graduate-student mentor in Comparative Literature. The mentor leads small groups of students (not more than 20) in regular meetings and also meets with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. Berkeley Connect is offered as a one-credit, pass-no pass course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills related to Comparative Literature as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates. The small-group discussion sessions give us a chance to address intellectual, institutional, and day-to-day practical kinds of issues. For instance: what is the Comparative Literature major? What sorts of reading do we do; how do we do it; why; what do we get out of it? What sorts of writing do we do in Comparative Lit at Berkeley; how does essay-writing in Comp Lit relate to essay-writing done for courses in other departments? For that matter: what are some helpful ways to improve one's experience of lectures and discussion sessions in all kinds of courses, and to work on and improve our writing? What various kinds of careers do people with UC Berkeley degrees in Comparative Literature go on to have? These class discussions and conversations–free of the pressure of grades–allow us to talk about our intellectual, literary/artistic, cultural, and sociopolitical interests–those interests that we brought with us to Berkeley, and the ones we encounter or further develop here (in the academic community, the city, and the wider Bay Area). Graduate student mentors also hold one-on-one meetings with undergraduates to discuss students’ challenges, questions, and goals. The mentors also lead explorations of, and visits to, campus units and resources like the Bancroft Library and the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). There are also events featuring Berkeley Comp Lit alumni working in a number of different professions, who speak about how the Comp Lit major has helped shape their interests, abilities, and careers. In addition, professors speak about how they came to study Comparative Literature, how they write, how they think–and engage in discussions–about literary works, in ways that involve both agreements and disagreements with others. From start to finish, Berkeley Connect in Comparative Literature creates opportunities for relaxed, enjoyable encounters with–and further explorations of–the Comp Lit community at Berkeley, and helps us think together about how to make the most of your experience here at the University.