Methods of Teaching Literature and English Composition-Comparative Literature

This seminar offers practical support for Graduate Student Instructors beginning to design and teach Reading and Composition (R&C) courses on the UC Berkeley campus. Together and in dialogue with other instructors, we will explore a spectrum of theories and practices related to teaching literature and college composition, all while testing and critiquing these against our own expanding experiences as students, writers, and teachers.

Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Comparative investigation of a topic related to the study of gender and/or sexuality in literature and culture.

Studies in Philosophy and Literature

So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, Benjamin, Derrida, and Fred Moten; and from Novalis to Musil, Kafka, Celan, Bachmann, Klossowski, and Cage (to name just a few). In this seminar we will read and discuss key texts written by some significant medieval figures in this tradition.

Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

This course will explore the fiction and reading practices of Vladimir Nabokov. While the focus will be on the first half of his career, we will make our way by the end of the semester to Lolita. Special consideration will be given to the teachability of these novels and what they offer current undergraduates. Themes covered will include literature in emigration and the relation of the novel to the cinema. Members of the seminar will present and lead class discussions and write a final seminar paper.

Approaches to Genre: Lyric Poetry

[NOTE: This course is "co-listed" as Critical Theory 290]


This course is designed to give all new graduate students a broad view of the department's faculty, the courses they teach, and their fields of research. In addition, it will introduce students to some practical aspects of the graduate career, issues that pertain to specific fields of research, and questions currently being debated across the profession. The readings for the course will consist of copies of materials by the department's faculty.

Approaches to Comparative Literature

This class introduces students to key discussions in the field of comparative literature and postcolonial theory. We will first analyze examples from world cultures of concepts of the literary that preceded the age of modern national literatures and globalization. We then discuss translation as theory and practice, examine its global politics in setting up a market of world literature, and think along with Barbara Cassin and Emily Apter on the significance of the untranslatables.

Berkeley Connect

Berkeley Connect is a mentoring program, offered through various academic departments, that helps students build intellectual community. Over the course of a semester, enrolled students participate in regular small-group discussions facilitated by a graduate student mentor (following a faculty-directed curriculum), meet with their graduate student mentor for one-on-one academic advising, attend lectures and panel discussions featuring department faculty and alumni, and go on field trips to campus resources. Students are not required to be declared majors in order to participate.

Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

What is meant when we say someone or something “sounds American”? Can a person sound like a certain gender, social class, sexuality, or race? How would we possibly define that sound? And what might it mean to think of a culture by the ways it sounds and listens, instead of how it looks or sees? This course will explore these questions and others by studying podcasts, poems, songs, novels, and the changing forms of sonic technologies like microphones, radios, mp3s, turntables, and more.

Episodes in Literary Cultures: Literature and History

From antiquity to the present, writers and artists have addressed the question of how to lead a good life, as well as addressing the obstacles--fate, the gods, our own divided psyches--that have made it difficult for us to do so. They have presented conflicting notions of what the good life is, and what its relationship is to happiness and happenstance. In this course, we will explore a range of ancient and modern takes on these questions.