Ten lectures and readings you won’t want to miss this spring

From politics and poetry to food and gender, upcoming lectures and readings at Berkeley will delve into some of the most vital cultural topics and issues facing the nation and the world. Among the many choices, here are 10 highlights for the spring semester.

Judith Butler

Judith Butler, a decorated scholar and UC Berkeley professor, sits down with author and cultural theorist Maggie Nelson to discuss gender, identity and memoir. Butler is a world-renowned critical theorist and scholar of gender studies. Nelson is the author of The Argonauts, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism (Monday, Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).

Technology, race and popular culture will be the topics of discussion between Jenna Wortham, technology and culture writer for the New York Times, and UC Berkeley professor Nadia Ellis. Ellis’s research focuses on literature of the African diaspora and Caribbean and postcolonial culture (Monday, Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).

Glynn Washington, host and executive producer of NPR’s Snap Judgment, will join the host of KPCC’s The Frame, John Horn, in a discussion of radio, podcasts and contemporary cultural criticism. The discussion will be moderated by Ben Manilla, a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism (Monday, April 24, 6:30 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum theater).

Senator Barbara Boxer will give the inaugural lecture in the Barbara Boxer Lecture Series this spring. Senator Boxer will reflect on the 2016 election and look forward to what lies ahead (Wednesday, Feb. 15, 4 p.m.,Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall).

Senator Barbara Boxer

After Syria’s government breached the international norm against using chemical weapons in 2012, a U.S.-led international coalition pressured the Assad regime to disarm one of the world’s last remaining chemical weapons arsenals. Professor Philipp Bleek, who served in the Pentagon in 2012 and 2013, will speak about his experience staffing the Syria Chemical Weapons Senior Integration Group and reflect on the past, present and future of chemical weapons threats (Thursday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m., location TBA).

Eugene Rumer of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will examine the Russian challenge in the next four years. Rumer’s research focuses on political, economic and security trends in Russia and U.S. policy in the region (Tuesday, Feb. 21, 5 p.m., 223 Moses Hall).

UC Berkeley professors Prudence Carter and Carol Galante join Fred Blackwell, a former assistant city administrator for Oakland, and University of Southern California professor Manuel Pastor to discuss cities in the age of Trump. Hear from this panel of thought leaders about the implications of the new administration for cities and communities (Monday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m., 112 Wurster Hall).

Marion Nestle

Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, Eat, Drink, Vote and Soda Politics will discuss the paradox in today’s global food system – that the two major threats to health and welfare of the world’s population are food insecurity and obesity. Nestle is a UC Berkeley alumna and professor at New York University (Tuesday, March 21, 4 p.m., International House Chevron Auditorium).

Joyce Carol Oates. (Image by Dustin Cohen)

Several poets will visit campus this spring to discuss their work and social activism. Ishmael Reed will discuss not only his latest book ,The Complete Muhammad Ali, but also his life as an author and activist (Wednesday, Mar. 15, noon, Berkeley Art Museum theater). Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the legendary Beat poet and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, will join poet and activist Jack Hirschman in a discussion of social activism and California countercultures (Wednesday, Feb. 8, noon, Berkeley Art Museum theater).

The fiction reading series Story Hour in the Library will bring decorated author Joyce Carol Oates to campus for a reading this spring (Thursday, March 9, 5 p.m., Morrison Library). Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in Our Hearts, will also read in the series (Thursday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m., Morrison Library).

To explore more Berkeley events, visit the Critic’s Choice calendar or sign up for weekly event emails.