2012-2013 Curriculum

Autumn: 
MLA 101A: Foundations I
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 36843

The first quarter of the Foundations sequence will range from the early second millenium BCE to the early first millenium CE. Among the major topics covered will be the Classical Ideal of Greece and Rome as illustrated in the art, literature, and philosophy of the period, and the central tenents of the world's most influential ethical and metaphysical traditions: Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam. 

Lecturer in CSP and MLA
MLA 102: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Graduate Study
Required of 2nd-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 36841

Thematically, this course will focus on the historical, literary, artistic, medical, and theological issues raised by war and its narratives. Practically, it will concentrate on the skills and the information students will need to pursue MLA graduate work at Stanford: writing a critical, argumentative graduate paper; conducting library research; expectations of seminar participation. There will be frequent guest lecturers. Readings will include selections from Homer, Shakespeare, Woolf, Conrad, and McPherson, as well as selected poetry, scientific writings, and history.

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program
MLA 292: The Bloomsbury Group
Humanities
September 6-16, 2012
Axess #: 55576

Bloomsbury was the most significant group of English intellectuals, writers, and artists of the early twentieth century. Among its eminent figures were Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, Vanessa Bell, E.M. Forster, and Leonard Woolf. This group had its origin at Cambridge University, primarily at King’s College, where the seminar will meet. Students will have access to the Modern Archive at the College—the world’s leading collection of primary material on the Bloomsbury Group. Through readings of Bloomsbury texts and classroom discussion, students will explore the group and assess its significance.

This is an intensive seminar taking place at King's College, Cambridge over 10 days in September 2012. Accommodation is in College dormitories, and meals are taken at university dining halls. 

Only students who have already registered and paid for this seminar through the MLA office can enroll.

Frances and Charles Field Professor of History, Emeritus
MLA 293: Darwin, Marx, and Freud
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 55577

This seminar will examine the three most influential thinkers of the past two centuries: Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. All three invented what Prof. Paul Robinson likes to call "Mastercodes": ideas that, in their view, could be used to interpret vast realms of reality, perhaps even the whole of it. Darwin's natural selection, Marx's economic determinism, and Freud's unconscious mind held the key, they argued, to understanding the worlds of nature, society, and human behavior. Students will read Darwin's Autobiography and parts of the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man; Marx's Communist Manifesto and parts of Capital, as well as Charles Dicken's Hard Times (a Marxist novel?); and Freud's Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood, and Civilization and Its Discontents.

Richard W. Lyman Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus
MLA 294: Text and Context: Art, Music, Poetry
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 55578

This seminar will consider one text each session. Three distinct periods will be represented -- the Renaissance, the French Revolutionary Period, and the 20th century, with each medium represented in each period. The assumptions guiding the seminar is that a difficult text, for example, Milton's elegy "Lycidas," can open up for us if we understand the context surrounding it. Thus "Lycidas" demands an understanding of matters such as the history of pastoral poetry since the Hellenistic period, the Puritan Revolution, and Milton's sense of what a poet's vocation encompasses. Other works to be studied are Bruegel's "Death of Icarus," Monteverdi's Orfeo, David's "Death of Marat," Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, Wordsworth's "Resolution and Independence," Schoenberg's Erwartung, Yeats's "Easter 1916," and George Segal's "Holocaust Memorial."

Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities, Emeritus
MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 36845

Students who have an approved prospectus should enroll in MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress. Students who are working on their theses are part of this class and meet regularly to provide peer critiques, motivation, and advice under the direction of the Associate Dean.

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program
Winter: 
MLA 101B: Foundations II
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays,
7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1002

The second quarter of the Foundations sequence will move from the early Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Topics to be discussed will range from the origins of the Christian west, the barbarian invasions of the 5th century, the advent of Islam, the flowering of medieval culture from the 12th to the 14th centuries, Renaissance theater and art, the scientific revolutions of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

Lecturer in CSP and MLA
MLA 101B: Foundations II
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays,
7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1002

The second quarter of the Foundations sequence will move from the early Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Topics to be discussed will range from the origins of the Christian west, the barbarian invasions of the 5th century, the advent of Islam, the flowering of medieval culture from the 12th to the 14th centuries, Renaissance theater and art, the scientific revolutions of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

Lecturer in Stanford's Program in Structured Liberal Education (SLE), and Lecturer in MLA
MLA 295: The American Enlightenment
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 60420

Eighteenth-century America was like a laboratory for exciting new political, religious, scientific, and artistic theories that we collectively call “the Enlightenment.” But to what extent were the major ideas and questions of the Enlightenment shaped by the specific conditions of North America?  Was the new world of America fundamentally different or the same as Europe, and did animals, plants, and peoples improve or worsen there?  Could a perfect new society and government, uncorrupted by European problems, be created in America?  To what extent did the American Enlightenment lay the groundwork for modern American society and its ideal of continual improvement and progress? We will attempt to answer these questions in this class through short lectures, readings in original documents from the era, and in discussions together. The syllabus and reading list will be made available here.

Professor of History and, by courtesy, of Classics
MLA 296: Reflections on the American Condition
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 60421

This course examines ten notable attempts (by way of fiction or not-fiction) to assess the circumstances of life in the United States.  Beginning with Alexis de Tocqueville’s early and magisterial Democracy in America and ending with Peter Beinart’s The Icarus Syndrome, the course will proceed in chronological order to see how the nation was changing (culturally, economically, politically, and socially) and how a series of perceptive observers made sense of those changes. Our attention will be given over to an analysis of the degree of success each observer achieved in his or her observations. The syllabus and the reading list will be made available here.

Professor of English, Emeritus
MLA 297: Islands as Model Systems: Geology, Evolution, Ecology, and Human Societies
Natural Science
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 60609

The central theme of this course is that islands can be used as model systems that help us to understand many aspects of how the world works.  We will explore this theme through an analysis of the Hawaiian Islands in particular – their origin and geology, how life arrived and diversified there, how ecosystems develop on young lava as well as cope with ancient infertile soils, how climate, soils, and ecosystems interact, the conservation challenges inherent to island organisms, how interactions with land shaped the development of island societies in the era before globalization, and how islands can be thought of as living laboratories for building more sustainable human societies.  While the focus will be on Hawaii, we will draw upon information from other island systems and societies as well. The syllabus and reading list will be made available here.

Clifford G. Morrison Professor in Population & Resource Studies, and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at FSI and the Woods Institute
MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1004

Students who have an approved prospectus should enroll in MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress. Students who are working on their theses are part of this class and meet regularly to provide peer critiques, motivation, and advice under the direction of the Associate Dean.

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program
Spring: 
MLA 101C: Foundations III
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays,
7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1006

Foundations III explores how men and women attempted to locate themselves in the modern world through different rational, mental, humanistic, artistic, and conceptual ways. The course begins at the moment of the French Revolution and moves through to our contemporary global present. Along the way we will address capitalism and its critiques, liberalism, evolution and anthropology, world wars, the rise and fall of colonialism, struggles for equality, modernism, and the impact of modern science on the human condition.

Lecturer in Stanford's Program in Structured Liberal Education (SLE), and Lecturer in MLA
MLA 262: The Economics of Life and Death
Natural Science or Social Science
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 61567

This course is a survey of economic perspectives on issues of life and death.  The central idea of economics is that scarcity and constraints are unavoidable facts of life.  While economists traditionally focus on the role of scarcity in decisions that people make about work, saving, and spending (among other topics), the role of scarcity extends to a much broader range of decisions, including to fundamental decisions about health, life, and death.  The analytic framework of economics helps to explain many puzzling facts about life and death decisions.  In this course, we will apply this framework to a diverse set of topics, including abortion, fertility, famines, obesity, life insurance, HIV disease, disease eradication, smoking, suicide, and the value of life. The syllabus is available here.

Associate Professor of Medicine and core faculty of the Center for Health Policy
MLA 298: Heretics, Prostitutes, and Merchants: The Venetian Empire
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 61560

Between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries the republic of Venice created a powerful empire that controlled much of the Mediterranean.  Situated on the shifting boundary between East and West, the Venetians established a thriving merchant republic that allowed many social groups, religions, and ethnicities to coexist within its borders. This course explores some of the essential features of Venetian society, and examines the relationship between center and periphery, order and disorder, orthodoxy and heresy as well as the role of politics, art, and culture in Venice.  Concludes with a discussion of the decline of Venice and its reinvention as a tourist site and living museum. The reading list and syllabus are available here.

Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of History and Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian
MLA 299: Evolution and Conservation in Galapagos
Natural Science or Social Science
Mondays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 61561

The contribution of research in the Galapagos Islands to our current understanding of evolution and conservation. Writings from Darwin to Dawkins, as they reveal patterns and processes of evolution including selection, adaptation, speciation, and coevolution. Current conservation strategies in the archipelago, and urgent measures needed today before unique species and adaptations are lost. The reading list and syllabus are available here.

Bing Professor in Human Biology, Department of Anthropology, and Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment
MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1004

Students who have an approved prospectus should enroll in MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress. Students who are working on their theses are part of this class and meet regularly to provide peer critiques, motivation, and advice under the direction of the Associate Dean.

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program
Summer: 
MLA 275: Shakespeare in Performance
Humanities
Wednesdays, July 17 & 24, 7:00-9:30pm; Saturdays, July 20 & 27, 10am-4pm; Sundays, July 21 & 28, 1pm-4pm
Axess #: 1010

Shakespeare's works were written for the theater, and their style, structure, and power are only fully revealed in performance. In this workshop-style class, students will gain an intimate understanding of the process of theater by producing a short version of two plays. Our goal will be to understand better how a unified interpretation and theatrical style emerges from the collaborative efforts of an entire production team. Students do not need to have a background in acting but must be willing to participate fully in all areas of production. Students will write a paper which applies their experience of production to a more conventional reading of a play. This year's plays will be The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth.

Professor of English (teaching), Emeritus
MLA 301: Mary Magdalene: The Feminine Principle in Scripture, Literature, and Legend
Humanities
Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30pm
Axess #: 44151

In order to test a theory that a global re-valorization of the feminine principle would perhaps discourage mass atrocities, we shall study the figure of Mary Magdalene, a primary influence in early Christianity.  In our panorama of representations of this remarkable woman, we will consult texts including the Christian Bible, the extra-canonical gospels and other texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, academic and non-academic scholarship, novels and films (including The DaVinci Code), and perhaps also a “chanelled” story. The syllabus is available here.

Visiting Professor in Comparative Literature
MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Variable Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
(enrolled WIP students will be emailed the calendar)
Axess #: 1004

Students who have an approved prospectus should enroll in MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress. Students who are working on their theses are part of this class and meet regularly to provide peer critiques, motivation, and advice under the direction of the Associate Dean.

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program