Research Courses

HUM W101: Research Bootcamp: How to Research in the Humanities (4 units)

Summer 2022

In your advanced university courses, you will be expected to become an active researcher.  This online summer course will give you the training you need to take on that role. With Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as our text, we will explore the research process step by step, mastering the tools that will allow you to open up a world of scholarship and engage it with confidence.  This course will teach you about the purposes, objects, and methods of humanities research, and will prepare you to undertake original research projects of your own.

HUM 196: Mentored Research Lab (3 units)

Mentored-Research Labs introduce you to the research culture on campus. You will work closely with faculty members and graduate-student mentors in both seminar-style cohorts and more focused groups. Courses will provide topical instruction and immersive, responsive workshops that prepare you for self-initiated, individual and collaborative research projects. At the conclusion of the course, you will present your work and reflect on your progress. To enroll, students apply through a brief form, and if selected, will receive a $500 research stipend. 

Fall 2021

Lost and Found: Berkeley Food Files 

In this course, we’ll use collaborative techniques like workshopping and divergent thinking to spark creative practices and develop projects that combine food studies with archival research and studio art. First, we’ll delve into local food history and explore the archives at the Bancroft Library and Berkeley Historical Society where we’ll uncover lost recipes, remedies, and stories. Our findings will shape projects that critically examine historical documents and probe the limits of the archive itself. In the second part of the semester, students will be mentored through their individual or collaborative projects and will reflect on their classmates’ research through critiques and small-group conversations. Students will have the option to create a final project in a form of their choosing,  including zines and bookmaking, essays, video installation, socially engaged art, performance art, and public practices. The class will culminate with an art exhibition and digital publication. No art experience is necessary, but students should be prepared to make creative projects in an experimental setting.

Keywords: food studies, archives, studio art, project-based course, socially engaged art, collaboration

Prof. Jill Miller, Art Practice, Course Catalog Link

Course Archive

Spring 2021

All the Feels: Art and the Cultural Politics of Emotion

Joy, grief, shame, fear, hope: emotions are a familiar part of private experience, but they are also public, social, and political. In this course, we will consider the role that emotions play in galvanizing social movements and shaping our understandings of ourselves. We will begin by reading different theoretical perspectives (e.g. philosophy, feminist theory, psychology) paired with artworks that explore how emotions are inflected by race, gender, and sexuality in American life. Art and emotion have long been closely linked, and we will be especially interested in thinking about the role that artistic practice and representation can play in amplifying or resisting certain emotions. After an introduction to research methods in the arts and humanities, students will undertake a collaborative research project, as well as a final project that creatively represents an emotion in literary, visual, or sonic form. The course will culminate in a conference and a concluding exhibition.

Prof. Dora Zhang, English

Fall 2020

The American West: Wilderness, Myth, and Sacred Place 

What has “the West” meant to the American imagination? An ever-expanding frontier awaiting civilization; a pristine wilderness untouched by human presence; a place to be free. These concepts remain powerful on a symbolic level and continue to affect our public discourse. But what happens when these concepts are explored in the context of a particular Western place, one that has an iconic presence in American culture? Using a case study approach, this course will explore central concepts about the American West through focusing on the Alabama Hills in the Owens Valley, part of the Eastern Sierra that has been used for over 100 years by the film industry as a set for more than 400 movies and commercials. It is also now a "bucket list" place for Instagrammers. We will look at how conventional concepts of the West surface in the ways the Alabama Hills have been and continue to be used. But we will also explore the ancestral history of the actual place itself, home for thousands of years to indigenous peoples who still dwell there and consider themselves its stewards, and ask questions related to social and environmental justice. Students will be introduced to primary source research and relevant archives, working with the Bancroft Library, the Museum of Western Film History, Lone Pine, and tribal elders and leaders who will partner with our class.

Keywords: Film & Media; Native American Studies; Environmental Justice; Archival Research; Community-Engaged Scholarship

Dr. Patricia Steenland, College Writing

Spring 2020

Arts of the Self: Identity and Self-Representation from the Diary to A.I. 

Prof. Damon Young, Film & Media and French

What is it to have (or be) a self? How do different media technologies (writing, photography, digital media) generate different forms of selfhood? Is the self a brain, a soul, a mass of data? What can art--and science--tell us about the self? In this hands-on, theory/practice research seminar, we will consider shifting paradigms of selfhood within the arts and sciences, as a context for exploring contemporary artistic practices of self-portraiture and vernacular practices of social media. Working in the Digital Media Lab with guided instruction, students will collaborate on a video essay on a topic of shared interest (such as artificial intelligence, neuroscience, or social media ‘selves’). In the second half of the semester, students will work in mentored groups on their own creative or artistic works of self-portraiture in literary, visual, or digital form, culminating in an informal, group exhibition. No art practice background is necessary, but students should be motivated to explore alternative forms of research and creative practice around the ever-changing topic of the ‘self’. Please note the course involves group excursions to Bay Area art exhibitions and research labs; these may take place outside of the assigned class time.

Spring 2020

Performance and Democracy: Special Projects on Participation, Representation, and Performing Arts 

Prof. Angela Marino, TDPS

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, this course is an opportunity to tackle some of the most pressing questions of our current political moment. What constitutes the right to vote? Who gets to speak and how? What does coercion mean in an era of widespread data points? What ways does visibility in media, on the streets, or on stage, influence the democratic process? From all these questions, it is difficult to separate performance from democracy. Considering each term within its own disciplinary debates and methods, we will focus on the intersections where politicians perform as actors, where the vote is linked to embodiment, the script of a campaign speech taps into social drama, and where affect-feelings work on the hearts and minds of voters. What might performance tell us about the ideals and problems we currently face in our political systems? How might we experiment through performance to explore existing and new forms of democratic practice and governance? This research-oriented 2-unit course includes a 6-week “boot camp” on political theory and performance studies alongside hands-on training in technical and performance-based research methods. Students will develop independent and team-driven research skills with the opportunity to produce original podcasts with video. Fully written research papers towards publication may also be considered.