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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, a biannual publication dedicated to publishing exemplary undergraduate research in the humanities and social sciences.

Volume 20 Issue 2 2008


The Word Made Text: An Exercise of Christly Reading (in) “Paradise Regain'd“

Paradise Regain’d is Milton’s brief epic, describing when Jesus is thrice tempted by Satan in the Wilderness. This poem’s central question is what it means to be the Son of God. Indeed, the nature of Jesus’ status as incarnate divinity has engendered a great critical schism between those who see an imperfectly human Son of God, and those who see Milton’s Jesus as a rigidly perfect being. Yet both critical perspectives assume that the poem works on a passive audience, one that sits idly as the dramatic action or didactic ‘meaning’ is narrated to it. Milton’s ideal reader, however, is the opposite: as an active participant in the reading process, he or she constantly reinterprets the events and conclusions of any argument. I argue for seeing the Jesus of Paradise Regain’d as the epitome of this ideal, and that the act of reading the poem acts as a whetstone for readers’ interpretive skill and individual agency. I begin by exploring theological background: the Protestant Reformation’s identification of the Bible as manifested divine. I combine this investigation with an examination of Milton’s Areopagitica in order to illustrate his conception of the individual, choice, and the value of discernment. I trace this value through the poem, especially when it contrasts Satan’s recourses to twisted logic. The difference between Jesus’ copiously figurative and Satan’s limitedly literal reading thus sheds light on Milton’s conception of history, the status of classical culture, and provides the basis for a liberal subject free from coercive laws.

Leaking Pipelines: Doctoral Student Family Formation

Balancing the demands of an academic career and those of a family are a great challenge, especially for women. Women pursuing a tenure-track position, or while on the tenure-track, often find themselves in a position of choosing between advancing their academic careers or having children; as a result, women, more so than men, leak out of the academic pipeline. The primary focus of this study is to explore, using secondary data from the "UC Berkeley Doctoral Career and Life Survey," and interviews with doctoral students, how family formation affects the life and career paths of men, and particularly women, while they are in graduate school. Secondly, recommendations are made for university sponsored policies, programs, and services for doctoral students with children.

Party Control and Budget Estimates: A Study of Politics in the Federal Budget Process

The historical development and contemporary nature of the American federal budget process have indicated that the process is fundamentally tied to politics. This paper discusses how and why this political dynamic exists in federal budget making. The study also attempts to learn whether or not differences in budget estimates produced by the Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office increase or decrease during times of unified or divided party control. Research findings indicate that the existence of divided party control is associated with higher differences in estimates. The study therefore suggests that politics may play a key role in budget estimations, and that this political dynamic ultimately adds to the politicization of the budget process.