UC Berkeley Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal

A Premier Humanities Research Journal at the University of California, Berkeley

Note From The Editor in Chief

Dear Reader,

Every semester, I am impressed by the quality and creativity of submissions CLUJ receives from undergraduates in the humanities around the world. This semester is no different, and our editorial staff is pleased to publish five particularly sharp and well written papers. But in addition to high academic quality, the papers included in this issue of CLUJ stand out to me for the personal care and faithful intellectual attention each of our five authors demonstrates towards their subject. For literary criticism to be good, many things must go right – structurally, mechanically, and conceptually. But, as our five authors display, faithful and bold attention is the most simple and critical service we can offer to both our reader and our textual object.

In “Hesiod and the Vedas: Succession and Sacrifice in Th. 129-192,” this attention is a massive undertaking; arguing for the Indo-European roots of epic Greek literature, Matthew Strebe offers us connections between two linguistic traditions of myth and epic.

The attention Elisabetta Pellegrino pays to Eugenio Montale’s poetry in “Besieged by a Distant Woman: Women’s Assenza-Presenza in Eugenio Montale’s The Occasions and The Storm and Other Things” is most compelling for its intricacy and detail; she invites us to be present with the nuance of Montale’s language in order to achieve a fuller understanding of his poetic corpus.

In “‘A Mind of Metal and Wheels’: Technology, Instrumental Reason, and Industrialization in The Lord of the Rings,” Doron Darnov makes a case for the very real stakes of literary attention; he reads in Tolkien an urgent and increasingly relevant critique of industrialization.

In “Cross-reading, Cross-breeding: Literary Imagination and Science in Milton’s Paradise Lost,” Sophia Richardson gives us a boldly interdisciplinary reading of a canonical text. She invites us to attend to a biological thought experiment, contending that literature can function as a “laboratory” where authors and readers are able to address a wide range of conceptual questions.

Isabelle Barnard presses for a reframing of critical attention in “Imagining the Jungle: Environmental Knowledge and the Ecuadorian Amazon in Oral and Written Literature.” Her deep investment in the subject takes the form of insightful reading as well as fieldwork, through which she offers us a new understanding of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

I am extremely proud of this semester’s editors. Their discerning readings, critical edits, and nuanced commentary on all our submissions made this semester’s journal possible. And I am pleased to introduce, for your attention and enjoyment, the Spring 2015 issue of CLUJ.

Happy reading,

Elena Bellaart