Divisions & Units - Arts & Humanities

Ariel Bloch, a pioneer in the fusion of Arab and Hebrew studies, dies at 85

January 9, 2019

Ariel Bloch, who used his career at UC Berkeley as a way to fuse Arab and Hebrew culture, died in Richmond on Dec. 14 at the age of 85 after a lengthy illness. A professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Bloch specialized in Arabic linguistics, but he took on Hebrew and Aramaic as subspecialties and did what he could to encourage a multilingual balance of both of the languages and the cultures.

Arts & Humanities

Anthony CascardiFrom ancient times to the present day, people around the globe have raised fundamental questions about life through the arts, literature and philosophy. In the Arts & Humanities Division, faculty and students explore the human experience across an exceptionally broad range of subjects.

Meet our new faculty: Maria Sonevytsky, ethnomusicology

November 27, 2018

Maria Sonevytsky, who received her Ph.D. from Columbia, is joining the faculty as an assistant professor of ethnomusicology.

Exploring the history of what might have been earns Gallagher the Jacques Barzun Prize

November 27, 2018

The American Philosophical Society awarded English professor emerita Catherine Gallagher the 2018 Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History for her book, Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction. She received the award in a ceremony in Philadelphia earlier this month. The book explores counterfactualism, the study of things that never happened and wondering what would have happened if they did.

Vanished no more: Giant of photography Roman Vishniac finds a home at The Magnes

November 20, 2018

UC Berkeley's The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life has acquired the collection of photographer Roman Vishniac, who documented many of the most important events of the 20th century. Vishniac almost single-handedly preserved our concepts of Jewish life in pre-World War II Eastern Europe. After the war, he would go on to photograph the destruction and rebuilding of Germany and life in the early days of the Baby Boom in New York and its Chinatown.

Anthony Newcomb, noted musicologist, dies at 77

November 20, 2018

UC Berkeley dean and professor emeritus Anthony Newcomb passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday, November 18th in Berkeley. A widely-respected music scholar, Newcomb’s research focused on vocal music of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras, and later the ontological connections between Wagner and 18th and 19th-century instrumental works.

Carillonist’s composition played at Matthew Shepard memorial service in D.C.

October 26, 2018

Compositions by University Carillonist Jeff Davis and former University Carillonist Ronald Barnes were played for the thousands who flooded Washington National Cathedral for a service celebrating the life of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old whose murder 20 years ago in Wyoming became a potent symbol of anti-gay bigotry.

Podcast: ‘White voice’ and hearing whiteness as difference, not the standard

October 16, 2018

In the 1940s and 50s, actors in major American films spoke with a kind of faux British accent as a way to sound “upper class.” But this way of talking left out nearly all actual American voices, says Tom McEnaney, a UC Berkeley professor who teaches a class called “Sounding American.” While the class talks about the generational differences of sound, they also discuss how today’s filmmakers are pushing back against the racial norms concealed in what we might say sounds American.

Podcast: Why we think women sound shrill, immature

October 9, 2018

Comparative literature professor Tom McEnaney, who teaches a class called “Sounding American,” says the U.S. has a long history of men criticizing the way women speak. Sound technologies, starting with the gramophone and phonograph, he says, were developed for men’s voices — and distort women’s.

Watch: Stephanie Syjuco on art, culture and politics

October 8, 2018

In a new episode of the Peabody Award-winning TV series “Art in the Twenty-First Century,” Stephanie Syjuco, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of art practice, invites viewers into her studio to see firsthand how she embeds politics in her work, and hear her talk about her interest in “how objects reflect cultural moments.”