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 two 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 two 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.

The Other Melville

Professor Samuel Otter, English 190

Most readers know the works of Herman Melville through his now-famous Moby-Dick. But Melville wrote a range of compelling fiction and poetry before and after Moby-Dick. The “Read Along with Berkley English” component of this course will take up three crucial and resonant works of fiction: his first book Typee (a novel of South Seas adventure), his short story “Bartleby” (about the relationship between a lawyer and his refractory clerk) and one of his last works, the novella Billy Budd, Sailor (a nautical tragedy).

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The Graphic Memoir

Professor Hertha D. Sweet Wong, English 166

A graphic novel is often defined as “a single-author, book-length work, meant for a grown-up reader, with a memoirist or novelistic nature, usually devoid of superheroes.” Many comic artists, however, ridicule the term as a pretentious and disingenuous attempt to rebrand comics in order to elevate their cultural status. We will examine the definitions, history, and diverse forms of graphic narratives in the U.S., focusing on graphic memoirs. We’ll also discuss the multiplicity of contested American identities as these are represented in image and text.

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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: