One of the goals of the course is to help you make the most of your years at Cal. While your academics will play a major part in your overall experience, the Berkeley campus and the surrounding areas also offer numerous opportunities for growth, both intellectual and personal. The main goal of this assignment is to expand your cultural horizons: if you attend an artistic event in your first year and find out you like it, you will be more likely to take advantage of the cultural riches of the Bay Area all four years you are here. You will also have a chance to hear about the events that your fellow students attended, so that you will be better informed about many of the exciting local options.


You are to attend one Arts-and-Humanities-related event, whether artistic, musical, literary or dramatic. It can be, for example, an exhibit at the museum, a musical presentation or a poetry reading. You are required to attend something that is new and unfamiliar. If you've never been to a modern dance presentation, try that. If you only listen to hip-hop, try something classical. Attending a blockbuster Hollywood movie or noontime concert in lower Sproul will not count; nor will attending a sports event. That doesn't mean you can't see a small, obscure film at the Pacific Film Archive. We want you to challenge yourself. If you choose something unchallenging you will not only lose points for the assignment, you will also risk putting yourself in a predicament in which you have nothing interesting to say in your essay.

While the event does not have to be of a specific length, we would assume at least an hour's commitment of time. So the lunchtime poetry reading at Morrison Reading Room is great, but spending 10 minutes at the Berkeley Art Museum isn't. If you have questions about what would be an appropriate event to attend for this assignment, please consult with your discussion section leader.

If you would like to attend an event with another student or group of students taking L&S 1, that's great, though completely optional. If you go together, feel free to discuss the art, but also remember that your interpretation and your written work should be your own.


You can approach the essay in any way you like, with one caveat: you will not receive full credit if you turn in only a description or narration of the work of art you observed. Put yourself—your observations, your feelings, your interpretation, etc.—into the essay. 

It will help if you approach the art with a fresh and open mind. You don't need to be an art (or theater, or music, or film) critic to complete this assignment successfully. As the great art critic Ernst Gombrich once wrote,

"Great works of art seem to look different every time one stands before them. They seem to be as inexhaustible and unpredictable as real human beings. . . . to enjoy these works we must have a fresh mind, one which is ready to catch every hint and to respond to every hidden harmony: a mind, most of all, not cluttered up with long high-sounding words and ready-made phrases."

Give yourself enough time to enjoy the art you are witnessing, to "catch every hint," to notice things that a casual observer would miss. Then write up your observations and ideas in your own words, in such a way that even a person who has not seen the same painting or play, or heard the same concert, can visualize or imagine what you noticed, and understand your reactions to it. If your own reactions are not included you will not receive full credit--but go beyond mere reactions. Figure out what in the artwork evoked those feelings or thoughts in you--in short, how did it achieve its effect?

You are likely to find that, if you are as attentive as Gombrich recommends, you will need to focus mainly on just one aspect of the art event—one painting, one sculpture, one poem, one scene or character or motif or metaphor, etc.—for your paper: otherwise it will grow far longer than the requisite two to three pages.

See the syllabus for specific formatting guidelines.


At your discussion section meeting on September 9, please let your discussion section leader know which event you plan to attend. Your essay is due at the beginning of your discussion section on September 23.


1. Did you choose an arts event or work of art that was challenging, as opposed to one that was superficial?
2. Did you observe the event or work of art very carefully, noticing and writing about aspects of it that the casual viewer would be likely to miss?
3. Did you focus your attention on a small enough aspect of the work to do it justice, i.e. to think and write in depth about it as opposed to skimming the surface of too large a scope?
4. Is your paper descriptive enough to allow someone who did not attend the same arts event to imagine what you saw and have chosen to write about?
5. Did you include the thoughts or emotions the work evoked in you, and discuss how it achieved that effect?
6. Is your essay well organized, and engagingly and clearly written? Have you avoided wheel spinning and padding, making every word count?


See L&S 1 website for a comprehensive list of places to find information on local arts events.

Listed on our site are a few places to get more information about events on campus and in Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland. If you have questions about what might be an appropriate event to attend please consult with your discussion section leader. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should get you started.

You should be able to find both daytime and evening events, so if you have safety concerns about going out in the evening, please choose a local, daytime event.


Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive

The Berkeley Art Museum is free to UC Berkeley students--bring your id!
The Pacific Film Archive charges students $5.50 for a movie (what a deal!)

Oakland Museum of California

Admission: $10.00 w/ your student ID
First Sunday of each month is free.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

This museum is currently undergoing construction: check its website for the most up-to-date information.

The DeYoung Museum, San Francisco

General admission: $6.00 with your student i.d. (Some special exhibits cost more.) First Tuesday of the month is free. (special exhibition fees still apply). Muni Riders with proof of public transit purchase receive a $2 discount

Museum of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco


Admission: $6.00 with your student i.d. Free first Tuesday of the month (special exhibition fees still apply). Muni Riders with proof of public transit purchase receive a $2 discount


Lunch Poems series at the Morrison Reading Room in the Doe Library

Also check out the events at local bookstores.


Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances

(Berkeley students get a 50% discount on tickets)

San Francisco Symphony

Students may purchase student rush tickets for $20. Subscribe to our Student Series and save 50%

San Francisco Opera

$27.00 rush tickets for students, with your student i.d. $10.00 standing room—cash only. Students: Save 50% with Student Series


Berkeley Repertory Theater

Half-price tickets for anyone under the age of thirty for most shows. Rush tickets $10 off for students in sections A & B

American Conservatory Theater

Student Matinee Program: Student Tickets are $10-20. Rush Tickets- 50% off, cash only

U.C. Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies

101 Dwinelle Annex (behind Dwinelle Hall) 510.642.1677
Playhouse and Durhan Theater Productions: $13 online in advance; $15 at the door.
Studio and Workshop Productions: $10 online or at the door. 

Aurora Theatre Company

2081 Addison Street, Downtown Berkeley
Advance-sale tickets for college students (with i.d.): $15. $20 rush tickets cash only. Under-35 Discount- 50% off

Shotgun Players

Previews of any performance: "pay what you can"
The $5 MAD ticket: 25 or younger, see the show for $5, cash only.

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

Free Shakespeare in the Park
*Note: You can see some shows at large theaters for free by volunteering to be an usher. Call up the theater you are interested in and ask if they have a volunteer usher program.


See Pacific Film Archive, under "Museums" above
$5.50 for Students


Berkeley Calendar of Events

The on-line version of the Chronicle's arts section: SFGate.com. At this site you can look up art, theater, dance and other events by area, performance type and date



The East Bay Express

The Daily Cal

The Bay Guardian

SF Weekly