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BABF Call for Participation: Book Festival Opportunities

In just four years, the Bay Area Book Festival has become one of California’s leading literary events, bringing tens of thousands of readers and a diverse set of writers to Berkeley for an annual celebration of the power of the written word. While our campus has supported the festival since it began, I am thrilled that this year we are expanding our partnership by engaging faculty to serve as presenters, giving students the chance to develop festival content, and making it easier for our campus community to experience the many joys of the festival. We’re excited to strengthen ties to this event, whose mission of promoting literary expression and creating forums for discussing topical issues is very much in line with our own. - Chancellor Carol Christ

The Bay Area Book Festival (—a major, international literary event that takes place each year in downtown Berkeley—is embarking upon a partnership that will encompass many parts of UC Berkeley, offering opportunities for departments and programs to present events at the festival, for faculty authors to be featured, for student groups to exhibit in the outdoor fair, and for students to intern for credit or work-study.

The fourth annual Bay Area Book Festival will take place over the weekend of April 28-29, 2018 and expects to attract 50,000 people. Across multiple stages downtown, the event will feature 80-100 author events (keynotes, interviews, panels, performances) with 250 leading local, national, and international writers from a dozen countries. An outdoor fair presents 200+ literary exhibitors and a vibrant children’s program. A concurrent film festival with BAMPFA presents 10 films that pertain to literature. The nonprofit festival has dozens of partners, funders, and sponsors including the City of Berkeley, the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, national publications, cultural agencies and consulates, publishers, community organizations, and more.


The festival invites participation from the UC Berkeley community in these domains:

Propose and sponsor a festival session

Berkeley Arts + Design would like to encourage campus programs (any area) to sponsor sessions that feature authors and books focused on the role of creativity and culture on public dialogue and heritage, including visual art, performing arts, film, media, design, and the craft of writing. Arts + Design will subsidize $1,000 of that cost for campus organizations (including collaborations) whose session proposals are accepted.

Departments, Centers, Programs, and Student Clubs can present sessions (panels, interview, keynotes) that have appeal to general audiences. Sessions average 125 attendees, with some up to 550. Each sponsoring campus organization or partnership (collaborations are welcome) would receive publicity through the festival program, website, press releases, signage, etc., as well as special tickets for students. Topic areas are open, but the session must feature writers with recent books with general appeal.


Berkeley Arts + Design will be working with Rebecca Solnit and the festival to curate sessions on the political, spiritual, environmental, and emotional stakes of “hope” in our current moment.

A department could propose a panel on an urgent topic of interest, with a faculty member moderating the session.

If a faculty member is coming out with a new book with general appeal, her department could propose to pair her with an interviewer selected mutually.

Departments could band together to present superb faculty writers on a topic than spans them all and has general appeal.

For examples, look under “Schedule” under each year’s archive tab at

While campus organizations regularly devote financial resources to events, the festival recognizes that budgets are limited and is offering a radically reduced cost for campus organizations to present at the festival. Normally, a sponsored session runs $10,000, which covers all planning, production, venue, author travel (if relevant) and publicity, which is extensive. For UC Berkeley, the festival has offered a rate below its cost, at $5,000/session, out of a desire to promote campus talent and resources. Executive Director Cherilyn Parsons welcomes your questions (


Tell us about recent books by Cal faculty

The festival wants to hear about books published ideally from 2017 through April 2018 for consideration for the 2018 festival. Many Cal faculty members have participated in the past, such as Scott Saul, Robert Hass, Adam Hochschild, Arlie Hochschild, Dacher Keltner, and Mark Danner. Please email Program Director Melissa Mytinger at with full information about the author and book, and any ideas for a session, by December 15.


Enrich your syllabi by integrating the books of Festival writers into your classes and sending students to the event

By including the work of 2018 Festival authors in your syllabi, you can prime Cal students for the festival and enrich your course with an in-person event to cap off the semester. The festival has created a list of confirmed speakers so far, with this list continually updated and accessible via this Festival Update link (or at just for Cal faculty. The speakers are organized by topic area—general fiction, international authors, current events, science fiction, etc.—with name, current book, publication date, and session details once they’re known.

Campus entities with an international focus may be especially interested. Each year the festival brings writers from a dozen countries. Just a few past examples are the Icelandic writer Sjon, Mexican writers Carmen Boullosa and Guadalupe Nettel, Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahaway, Korea’s Krys Lee, and Irish author Colm Toibin. Some of the 2018 international writers may be available to visit classes in the last week of April. Authors in 2018 are expected to come from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Norway, and Sweden, so far. The festival also is open to considering including any of Cal’s visiting foreign writers for the event. Interested faculty members should contact


Exhibit in the Festival’s Outdoor Fair

With 200+ literary and educational exhibitors, the Outdoor Fair (in Civic Center Park and adjacent streets) attracts thousands of people for smart, fun browsing and shopping. Student clubs or publications, academic departments and centers, and special services offered by UC Berkeley to the public are invited to exhibit. Collaborations are welcome. Applications are open (select the nonprofit rate). Or email with your interest.


For students! Intern with the Festival for academic credit, or participate via work-study

Students can earn 1-3 units of academic credit through Rhetoric 197 (students from any department may apply) or can apply for work-study. Areas of work include marketing, web development, programming, sponsorship, fundraising, evaluation, and the UC Berkeley relationship itself (informing departments, facilitating student involvement, etc.). Students also can take part in a writing program with Native youth in the Graton Rancheria Tribe. Information and application for an academic internship is at, or contact Sabrina Werts at about work-study. Departments can email for flyers or announcements to share this opportunity with students.