By Monica Friedlander, College of Letters and Science | 20 February 2008
Most of next fall’s freshmen are in for a surprise this spring: They’ll receive two free DVDs in the mail, courtesy of the College of Letters and Science and its signature program, “On the Same Page.”
As part of their orientation packages, new freshmen and transfer students in L&S — who account for more than three-quarters of the campus’s undergraduates — will be asked to watch two of celebrated film director Ang Lee’s productions: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm. Lee and his longtime collaborator and screenwriter, Berkeley alumnus James Schamus, will be the program’s featured speakers at a March 2009 event co-sponsored by Cal Performances.
“This is a great choice for the program, because film is a great starting point of discussion,” says film-studies associate professor Mark Sandberg. “Film is the great cultural vernacular of our time, but careful film analysis and discussion in a university setting can help students become more active and questioning in their relationship to the medium.”
Launched in 2006, “On the Same Page” encourages student engagement in rich intellectual dialogues through a variety of activities planned around a central work of art, science, or literature, with the author or artist making related presentations on campus.
In its first two years the program focused on two widely acclaimed books and their famous authors: A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking and Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills. But the program was never intended solely as a book project, explains L&S Executive Dean Mark Richards.
“When we created the series, we were very attracted to the ‘On the Same Page’ name because the page can be metaphorical,” says Richards. “We wanted to be open to artists who don’t necessarily write books: playwrights, screenwriters, filmmakers, musicians, composers. We left that door open.”