Read Along with Berkeley English

Connect to the Berkeley English Classroom, and to Each Other

If you are like many graduates of Berkeley’s English Department, your seminars count among your most vivid memories. We’d like to share that experience with you again by inviting you to read along with the three current seminars highlighted here. For each seminar, we provide selected readings and discussion questions, along with an invitation to join an ongoing online discussion and a monthly Open Office Hours with the professor.

You’ve given so much of yourselves to Berkeley; we now want to bring Berkeley back to you.

Spotlight Seminars


How to "Read Along"

How do I join?

Simply join the Facebook group by clicking here.

Who can participate?

The program is open to all.

Does it cost anything?

Participation is free, but we always welcome donations to the English Department Fund in any amount. Just click here.

Can I take as many seminars as I want?

Yes, we have three seminars available and you’re welcome to participate in them all.

What is the workload?

Professors will assign approximately 200 pages of reading per month, either from a single text or a collection of shorter works.

How often do we meet?

Facebook discussion threads are ongoing, but we will host one live Open Office Hours event per month.

Will I meet the Professor?

Yes, the professor will engage participants in a hour-long live Open Office Hours event once a month.

Utopias and Anti-Utopias

Professor Steven Lee, English 190

What is utopia: dream of a perfected society that is noble if elusive, or one that is naïve, dogmatic, even murderous? We will explore 19th century romantic socialist utopias, early 20th century mass industrial utopias, and the ecological, ethnic, and neoliberal utopias of the late 20th and early twenty-first centuries, while considering the viability of utopian thought and vision for our current, anti-utopian times.

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James / Baldwin

Professor Stephen Best, English 190

James Baldwin and Henry James shared a great deal in life and art, both having turned their chosen European exile into a major theme within their art. This class will explore shared aesthetic and political concerns as well as queer “sensibilities” that may or may not be there— and the reticence, renunciation, bewilderment, and belated recognition that keep us at a loss for knowledge of our subject.

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The Prehistory of Black Lives Matter

Professor Abdul JanMohamed, English 133B

This course will explore the foundation of systemic racism in US society’s deployment of the threat of death and the systematic killing of African American men and women, from the beginning of New World slavery to the lynching of George Floyd. We will investigate the relations between the Black Lives Matter movement and its prehistory through the ways in which Black writers, artists, and activists have mapped the subjective effects of the threat of death.

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Give to English

English Department Fund

Your donation allows us to keep up the programs and services that enrich our students’ experience of literature and extend it beyond the formal classroom setting. For example, money from donors like you allows us to build the collection of books in our department library, to bring poets and other writers to campus for readings, to sponsor lectures by visiting scholars, to help fund graduate-student travel to conferences, libraries, and archives. Your support also allows the English Undergraduate and Graduate Associations to maintain their activities, in which faculty and students share their interests outside of the classroom in informal conversations, and it gives us the opportunity to provide new technologies for writing, research, and collegial collaboration. If you wish to contribute for general departmental use, please give to: