Pride is here! LGBTQ+ Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which took place on June 28th, 1969. Forty-six years later on June 26th, the US Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land. LGBTQ+ authors explore themes of love, community, intersectionality, struggle, and queerness within their work. Join us at the library in celebrating Pride Month by reading recent works from LGBTQ+ authors and/or featuring LGBTQ+ main characters.
Get started with some recently published novels:
Or enjoy some of the richest verse of 2017 and 2018:
Make sure not to miss these memoirs and collections:
Looking for more? The finalist list for the Lambda Literary Awards is a great place to find the best recent LGBTQ+ literature. Did we miss your favorite book, or is there a book you really think we should feature on the blog? We’re always looking for more books to add to our reading lists and our shelves! Tweet us and let us know.
From the Director: Oral History and the Berkeley Tradition
On the evening of Thursday April 26th, the staff of the Oral History Center hosted our annual event in which we take the opportunity to express our gratitude to our remarkable narrators and our generous sponsors. I’ll also usually say a few words about the center and provide an overview of the scale of the work that we do for the benefit of those who might only know it just from the vantage point of being interviewed. Preparing my remarks was easy this year because 2018 happens to be a pretty special year at Berkeley: it marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the university! What follows is an edited version of my remarks:
This evening I want to spend a few minutes sharing my thoughts on the essential role that this oral history program has played in this history of this university. See, the University of California was founded on March 23, 1868, just a little over 150 years ago. And while what we now know and love as the Oral History Center wasn’t established for another 90 years, in some very important ways, this program has been with the university since the beginning: it has been with the university through the first and second-hand experiences of those who built the university into what it is today, transmitted over the past 64 years through recordings now archived in the Bancroft Library.
Physicist Raymond Thayer Birge, from an interview completed in 1960, conveys his knowledge of the university’s earliest years from his departmental perch: “The Department of Physics is very old. It goes back to John Le Conte, the first man appointed to the faculty of the original University. He was appointed professor of physics, he was also acting president for those first two or three years. Then later on, I after we had had two or three presidents; he was president, I think for five years, Then he got fired, although that doesn’t appear on the public record, but he actually did. [But] he remained [on faculty] until I think 1891, when he died; and he was the first member of the original faculty to die, as well as being the first one to be appointed.”
The Faculty Club, designed by famed architect Bernard Maybeck, is a treasured institution on campus. In our 1962 interview with Leon Richardson, we get a first-hand account of its founding: “Well, I was one of the founders of the Faculty Club, and I can tell you just how it began. Three or four of us saw a little (tumbled down … unoccupied) cottage on the southern rim of the campus and we said among ourselves, ‘Couldn’t we rent one of those cottages, maybe for $5 a month and then hire a caterer to come and give a luncheon to us five days a week?’ Anyway, we hired the cottage and got the caterer and it went well. From that we began to expand and expanded until the day came when we got the regents to build us a clubhouse on the campus with Maybeck as the architect.” In another passage from the Richardson interview, we learn Jane Sather gave a considerable sum to pay for the bells of Sather Tower but when money was left over, the decision was made to build the structure that has welcomed visitors to campus since 1910, now called “Sather Gate.”
William Dennes, who arrived on campus as a junior professor of philosophy in 1915, many decades later recalls what he found: “The campus was mostly like a neglected ranch: foxtail and other dried grass in August, when the term then began, ragged and for the most part not gardened, [but there was] an ivy bed around California Hall. And Benjamin Ide Wheeler was very concerned that the boys and girls shouldn’t make paths across his ivy bed!”
Although the International House movement began in New York City, Berkeley established the second house in the country and our I-House remains a lively center of intercultural exchange today. In a 1969 oral history, Harry Edmonds offers his recollections: “One frosty morning in September, 1909, I was going up the steps of the Columbia Library … when I met a Chinese student coming down. I said, ‘Good morning. ‘ As I passed on, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had stopped. So I stopped and went back to him. He said, ‘Thank you for speaking to me. I’ve been in New York three weeks, and you are the first person who has spoken to me’ … I went on about my errand but had no sooner gotten around back of the library that I realized something extraordinary had happened. Here was a fellow, this student, who had come from the other side of the world, … he had been here for three weeks, and no one had spoken to him. What a tragedy. I retraced my steps to find him to see if I could be of some help, but he had vanished in the crowd. That evening when I went home, I told my wife of my experience. She asked if I couldn’t ‘do something about it.’” Before too long, Edmonds played an instrumental role in founding the International House movement.
I could go on quoting from interviews describing the rise of the Free Speech Movement and Ethnic Studies on campus, examinations of the Loyalty Oath and the creation of the several new campuses of the UC System, and, yes, there is a very good account of the founding of the Oral History Center, but I’ll stop here. These quotes were drawn from much longer oral histories which are just an exceedingly small sample of the 4000 interviews in our collection that document not only the history of this university but also the region, the state, and frankly, the world.
So what is to be gained from these interviews? Are they just colorful anecdotes or do they offer something greater?
If you get the chance to listen to the interviews, the cadence of the speech found in the oral histories is strikingly different today, as often is the vocabulary. We are in the process of digitizing these interviews, so in the years to come you’ll be able to listen to their words, how they spoke those words, and begin to explore how we might gain new understandings through voice and affect. These interviews also provide information not readily available in the public record, as hinted at in Birge’s recollection of John LeConte’s career challenges. Moreover, they offer detailed accounts of everyday life — the kinds of things that provide texture to our understanding of the past but might be ephemeral and thus exist only in our memories, otherwise disappearing when we do too and not documented in writing. They reveal the moments of inspiration behind the ideas, institutions, and innovations of the university; they reveal origins often shrouded in the mystery of epiphany and immediate experience. These interviews give experts the opportunity to share their ideas, discoveries, and challenges in everyday language, thus giving non-experts the opportunity to learn about complex and fascinating things outside of jargon-filled publications, for example. And, finally, they tell us just how Sather Gate came to be!
In 2018, 150 years since the University of California was established, I encourage you to dig into our collections and read the first person accounts of how and why Berkeley became one of the greatest universities in the world.
Martin Meeker, Charles B. Faulhaber Director of the Oral History Center
Checking-in with Summer Institute Alum Marc Robinson
When Marc Robinson traveled from Spokane, Washington to Berkeley, California in August 2017, it was in the name of narrative history. He came to the Advanced Oral History Summer Institute to work on his project about black student activism in the late 1960s, which was somewhere between dissertation and manuscript. He had done some interviews while earning a PhD in American Studies from Washington State University, but felt like he was just scratching the surface. Like many who understand the value of oral history in doing contemporary history, he wanted to talk to more people, get a broader range of narratives, and explore the way that some of the stories he was recording contradicted archival documents.
Robinson’s doctoral research was about student activism on campuses in the Northwest, particularly around those who were in the Black Student Union during a time of social and political unrest in the 1960s. He focused on two campuses, one urban — the University of Washington — and one rural — Washington State University. After doing several interviews with students who were active there, Robinson wanted to broaden his cohort of narrators to include not only black students, but their allies and the larger community of people connected to the Black Student Union, but were not students themselves.
He came to the Summer Institute looking for more training in longform life history interviews and left the program thinking deeply about what this type of interview can really provide to a researcher. “Narratives aren’t really telling the Truth, but their recollection of what happened as it pertains to them,” he says. He found that some of the narratives that he had collected challenged the materials he had found in the archives, which made him see interviewing as an opportunity to understand the complexity of memories. The program taught him to expect this complexity and see oral history as having transformative power. Another takeaway? The importance of the tech side of interviewing. “It made me think more about headphones, mics, the quality of sound, and knowing your equipment,” he says.
Since his time in Berkeley, Robinson was hired for a tenure track faculty job in the History Department at Cal State University San Bernardino (congratulations, Marc!), where he’ll start in the fall of 2018. He plans to continue working on his project and is interested in getting his students involved in the interviewing process. “It can be a really valuable teaching tool,” he says. He hopes to get his students involved in projects that illuminate local history, current events, and the community, something that Cal State San Bernardino has a track record of.
Please join us in congratulating Robinson on his new job! Look out for his book, which is on track to be out by 2020. We’re excited to see what he learns from his next round of interviews and what they can teach us about the times we are living in now.
Interested in learning more about Robinson? About the SI or joining us in 2018?
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
In the age of South African apartheid, Trevor Noah’s mom is the heroine who is able to raise a smart, funny, and thoughtful human being who, as an adult, has gone on to fight racism with dignity and humor. Noah’s mother, through all of their many trying times, was the light and inspiration who allowed Trevor the ability to learn from their hardships. Through the confines of racism and violence, this is a tale of how survival can happen with love, humor, and dignity. At the end of it all, there continues to be light, inspiration, discovery and hope in our humanity!
Summer brings many visitors from near and far to UC Berkeley, especially the libraries. This week, 24 future Cal students — third graders from Oakland’s Northern Light School, accompanied by Ricardo Huerta Niño (M.C.P. ‘09, PhD City & Regional Planning ‘13) — spent the day on campus visiting the Campanile, the campus’s own T-Rex and Haas Pavilion (Go Bears!).
But the highlight of their day must surely have been their visit to the Environmental Design Library where librarian David Eifler introduced them to his collection of pop-up and artists’ books, gave the young scholars an opportunity to select items from the collection and showed off the library’s sculptural furniture.
Lester Telser is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Chicago. A student at Chicago in the 1950s, Dr. Telser was first a professor in the Graduate School of Business until 1964. Dr. Telser’s life work is the theory of the core, a variant of game theory that involves coalitions of agents as opposed to individuals working to maximize their advantage. He used sophisticated mathematics to study why and how certain forms of markets are organized without appeals to more established concepts in economics. As both a student and colleague at the Chicago economics department, and as a fellow at both the Cowles Commission and the Cowles Foundation, Telser is a key witness to the transformation of the field of economics after World War II.
The impact of economics in our society is hard to overstate. Economics structures government policy, guides decision-making in firms both small and large, and indirectly shapes the larger political discourses in our society.
To enrich the understanding of the influence and sources of powerful economic ideas, the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago set out in 2015 to capture oral histories of selected economists associated with Chicago economics. The aim was to preserve the experiences, views, and voices of influential economists and to document the historical origins of important economic ideas for the benefit of researchers, educators, and the broader public. This oral history with Lester Telser, conducted in ten sessions in Chicago, IL, from July to October 2017, is the third interview for the project.
Economist Life Stories is more than a collection of life histories; it chronicles the history of a scholarly community and institutions at the University of Chicago, such as the Graduate School of Business, the Cowles Commission, and the Department of Economics. It also reflects the achievements of faculty and students in the domains of economic policymaking and private enterprise around the world. Although this project focuses on the leaders and students of the University of Chicago Department of Economics, the Graduate School of Business, and the Law School, we hope to add more stories from economists around the world as the project expands.
Hodson Thornber and Paul Burnett organized the project with Toni Shears and Amy Boonstra of the Becker Friedman Institute, with important support from an advisory group of historians and economists.
Financial support for this work was provided by Hodson Thornber, a member of the Becker Friedman Institute Council, whose contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
Be sure to read Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson’s survey essay, Trevor Paglen at the Limit, in the new monograph, Trevor Paglen by Phaidon press.
“Julia Bryan Wilson, in her Survey text, offers a chronological analysis of Paglen’s oeuvre, using geometric terms such as ‘voids’ and ‘lines’ as entry points into the work and to highlight both the multi-dimensionality and formal rigour of Paglen’s practice. ”
“Trevor Paglen’s art gives visual geography to hidden forces, relentlessly pursuing what he calls the ‘unseeable and undocumentable’ in contemporary society. Blending photography, installation, investigative journalism, and science, Paglen explores the clandestine activity of government and intelligence agencies, using high-grade equipment to document their movements and reveal their hidden inner workings. This book presents over three decades of Paglen’s groundbreaking work, making visible the structures and technologies that impact our lives.” -Phaidon
This oral history with J. Michael Bishop is one in a series documenting bioscience and biotechnology in Northern California. Selecting Rous sarcoma virus, a cancer-causing retrovirus, after arriving at UCSF in 1968, Bishop was soon joined by Harold E. Varmus with whom he established a partnership legendary for its length and productivity. In a seminal publication of 1976, they established the proto-oncogene as a normal cell component and precursor of oncogenes. In 1989, Bishop and Varmus were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this research. With some reluctance, Bishop agreed to become UCSF Chancellor in 1998. His highly productive eleven years saw the creation and staffing of the Mission Bay campus and record-breaking fundraising success, among other important events he oversaw. The oral history consists of five interviews conducted in 2016 and 2017, with an introduction by colleagues Bruce Alberts and Harold Varmus.
Happy May, everyone! Now that the spring semester has drawn to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past few months and look ahead to the summer and fall. It’s been a busy time for the Office of Scholarly Communication Services. Here are some highlights.
We released the Pathways to OA toolkit in collaboration with fellow UC libraries to analyze approaches and strategies toward achieving a large-scale transition to a more open and sustainable scholarly publishing system. To enable other institutions to make similar decisions responsive to their own needs, we’re chairing a working forum on the Berkeley campus in October to collaborate with North American libraries in transforming the scholarly publishing system.
We wrapped up the second semester of a multifaceted pilot program to make textbooks and other course materials more affordable for students. Stay tuned for our forthcoming report detailing the extensive student savings to date! We are pleased to announce that we’ll be running these services again in Fall 2018. If you’d like to save students money and develop innovative pedagogy, please complete this form to participate.
We funded dozens of Open Access publications by UC Berkeley authors through our BRII program.