The Berkeley Writers at Work series was begun in 1997 as a forum for campus writers of note to discuss their writing process.
Research and teaching are the two primary goals of a large research university like Berkeley. Research is highlighted in many ways on this campus; to a lesser degree, so is teaching. However, writing itself—the primary way that faculty convey the results of their research—is rarely discussed.
The most common kind of writing forum involves writers of fiction and poetry reading selections and talking about the content of their work. Berkeley Writers at Work differs from these in that we focus (although not exclusively) on writers of nonfiction, and then on the process, rather than the content, to the extent that these can be separated.
Most of the campus community (faculty, staff, and students) spend most of their time writing pieces other than poetry and fiction, and we believe that it is invaluable to make public the discussion of the kind of writing that most people at Berkeley are involved in, one way or another. How does a Pulitzer Prize winner in nonfiction get an idea? How does she start writing about it? How does he organize his work? Does she write in solitude? How does he revise? Edit? Who else reads the work in progress? These are all issues that many writers face, whether they are doing reports for the campus or books for publication.
Beyond developing a sense of community among the people who write on campus, we see this series as also simply highlighting writing on this campus. We have a number of truly gifted, award-winning writers whose work is more hailed elsewhere than here. This series provides a wonderful forum for writers on this campus.
Berkeley Writers at Work is aimed at the general campus community: faculty, staff, and students. College Writing instructors frequently ask their students to attend and assign them reading and writing assignments based on the interviews. Video and audio tapes and transcripts of the interviews are available, as well as selected works by the featured writers.
For more information, contact John Levine by email at firstname.lastname@example.org