Berkeley English-Chernin Program

If you have anything to do with the university’s English department, you may have already heard of something called the Chernin Program. It’s a mentoring program held every semester for anyone interested in English and literature, as a major or otherwise. Undergraduate groups meet every other week in the evening with a graduate student leader to talk about everything under the sun, from particulars about the English major to the nature of reading in general. Students talk about broad topics that you can’t get into during class and questions that have been bugging them, like what the heck does the dialectic mean? If you don’t get to talk about what you want during your regular meeting, your graduate leader holds office hours every other week to answer questions. You can ask about the major, classes you should take, applying to graduate school, or literature itself. There’s no extra homework or reading, just a relaxed meeting of the minds that can make you feel smart in your free time while taking a break from classwork. There’s also free food, which is always a bonus for poor, hungry college students.

Besides these regular meetings, the program also gives opportunities to explore Berkeley’s resources. You can sign up for seminars to learn how to research things in the libraries and online databases, or you can tour the Bancroft Library’s collection of cool old stuff. Want to see one of the first editions of ‘Paradise Lost’, or ‘David Copperfield’? They have them, and you can gawk at them all you want with fellow bookworms. You can view these items otherwise as read more »


lizzard love

Lizards. We don’t report on our reptilian friends that often (mainly because there’s not too much to report), but today we’d like to remind our readers that lizards aren’t all that different from us.

So we don’t have long, creepy tails or bulging eyes, but we’re social creatures who live in families, and apparently, the Xantusia vigilis, aka desert night lizard, does too. Most reptiles are more into the egg-laying, loner lifestyle, but Berkeley researcher Alison Davis has recently discovered that the Xantusia vigilis gives birth to live young and those young stay with their families for around three years. We know that doesn’t sound like a long time, but when your lifespan is 10 years, tops, those first three make up a pretty sizable block.

Essentially, these lizards are a lot like that quintessential kid who bums around Mom and Dad’s house, living in the room above the garage, for thirty years — did that hit too close to home, humanities majors?

If you want to find out what other human-like tendencies these lizards might possess, we recommend you catch a few and sit back and observe. Or you could just ask Ms. Davis.

Image Source: Jayanth Sharma under Creative Commons
Lizards that Live in Families Discovered [MSNBC]


cute hipster

In a Robin Hood-esque move, University of California officials created a new plan to charge undergraduate
engineering and business students $900 more a year than those in other majors. And as humanities majors (otherwise known as the bastard children of academia) we respond with a resounding “sounds good to us!” Except for a slight hitch—the plan has been delayed pending further study.

The plan would basically be an extension of the current system: those who can afford to pay more tuition should pay more. Only now it’s been modified to: those who are majoring in something that will potentially read more »


Bu-but I dun wanna live in a box!So we all know that the fate of the suckers in the social sciences is to live in a cardboard box and frequent the local coffee shop, looking glum and gaunt, while nursing a double shot of espresso and philosophizing with a fellow box-dweller about Kierkegaard. But the other day, we heard a joke that cut straight to our feeble academic hearts: Q: “What’s the difference between a Segway and a humanities major?” A: “At least a Segway is useful.”

We’re a little desensitized to the whole buzz-killing, “What are you gonna do when you graduate?” question, and the attack on our future domicile is just absurd (We mean, we’ll be couch surfing or in a nice sleeping bag along the sidewalk, at least), but being compared—topped, rather—by the transportation industry’s equivalent of orthopedic shoes is just too much. read more »