2013-2014 Curriculum

Current students can find syllabi for each quarter at Stanford Syllabus. Syllabi are posted as soon as they are received from faculty.

Autumn: 
MLA 101A: Foundations I
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1024
Lecturer in CSP and MLA

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. 

MLA 102: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Graduate Study
Required of 2nd-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1022
Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

Co-taught with Paul Robinson, Richard W. Lyman Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus.

Thematically, this course will focus on the historical, literary, artistic, and philosophical issues raised during The Long Nineteenth Century (1789-1914). 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; presenting a concise oral summary of work accomplished; actively participating in a seminar. Readings and assignments will include Austen, Mozart, Burke, Schubert, Mary Shelley, Mill, Marx, Dickens, Darwin, Freud, and Woolf, as well as selected poetry and critical writings. The course will culminate in a research paper and a presentation of each students' findings.

MLA 269: The Meaning of Life: Moral and Spiritual Inquiry through Literature
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 57035
Dean for Religious Life

Short novels and plays will provide the basis for reflection on ethical values and the purpose of life. Some of the works to be studied are Albert Camus' Stranger, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby, Hermann Hesse's Siddharta, Jane Smiley's Good Will, and Leo Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilyich. We will read for plot, setting, character, and theme using a two-text method-looking both at the narrative of the literary work and at students' own lives-rather than either deconstructing the literature or relating it to the author's biography and psychology. There will be many answers to the kinds of questions examined: Why are we here? How do we find meaningful work? What can death teach us about life? What is the meaning of success? What is the nature of love? How can one find balance between work and personal life? How free are we to seek our own destiny? What obligations do we have to others? Both secular and religious world views from a variety of contexts will be considered. The authors chosen are able to hold people up as jewels to the light, turning them around to show all of their facets, both blemished and pure, while at the same time pointing to any internal glow beneath the surface.

MLA 302: Paris: Capital of the Modern World
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 57033
Associate Professor of Modern European History

This course explores how Paris, between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, became the political, cultural, and artistic capital of the modern world.  We will consider how the city has both shaped and been shaped by the tumultuous events of modern history – class conflict, industrialization, imperialism, war, and occupation.  We will begin with the premise that Paris has long been a place with many overlapping and competing histories.  Emerging as a national, regional, and imperial capital in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Paris was where revolutionary ideas were born and exported abroad.  In the mid-nineteenth century, the city became a model of planning and architectural design, drawing painters, photographers, and writers to live and work in what many considered the center of the modern world.  We will also look at the way in which the city has always been first and foremost a collection of neighborhoods, quartiers, where people of different classes, political orientations, nationalities, and races mingled. Our sources will include a rich combination of novels, films, paintings, architecture, travel journals, and memoirs, including many “classics” of their chosen genres.  

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1026
Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

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

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

Co-taught with Dr. Jeremy Sabol, Lecturer in SLE and in MLA.

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.

MLA 288: Who was Shakespeare?
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 57313
The Mark Piggott OBE Professor of English, Emeritus

This seminar will construct an in-depth narrative of William Shakespeare’s life and work between 1594 and 1599.  Individual classes on the sonnets that Shakespeare wrote for “his private friends” will address issues of chronology, self-reference, and love vs. time. Turning to The Merchant of Venice, the seminar will explore Shakespeare’s ideas about money, his religious beliefs, and his role as a shareholder-manager in a prominent company of professional actors. Sessions on Hamlet will relate the play to the death of Shakespeare’s only son Hamnet, and will take up questions of authorship in the three earliest texts of his first great tragedy. Continuous access to online databases available through the Stanford libraries will familiarize participants with the methods and materials of graduate-level work on Shakespeare. 

MLA 303: Cultures of Collecting
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 57314
Associate Professor of Classics

Why do people collect things? This question demands wide-ranging responses, drawing on historical, ethical, social, psychological and art historical perspectives. The discussion evolves in relation to selected readings and museum visits. The Stanford family and J. Paul Getty are among the collectors discussed in detail. We will take on board a combination of object histories, collection histories, and ethical questions about heritage and cultural property. Students will have the opportunity to pursue case studies of their own, chosen in consultation with the instructor.
Several optional museum visits will be planned, including local museums in San Jose and San Francisco, as well as the Getty Villa in LA. The MLA Program will cover the costs of admission; all travel is at the expense of the student.

MLA 307: What Do We Mean When We Speak of Evil?
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 58073
Professor of English, Emeritus

This course is designed to provoke discussion about a term both familiar and elusive: “evil.”  What do we mean by it?  Does it exist? What do philosophy and literature tell us about it and its properties?  How have understandings of it changed over historical time?  Should certain individuals be charged with being “evil” or should only their acts be so described? What brings evil into being (if, indeed, it exists)? Can it be ameliorated or is it (again, if it exists) a primordial human attribute?

Over ten weeks, the class will discuss these questions, being prompted to do so by reading some ten works, ranging from The Confessions of St. Augustine to Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, and from Shakespeare’s King Lear to Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents.

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1004
Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

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.

Spring: 
MLA 101C: Foundations III
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1006
Lecturer in Stanford's Program in Structured Liberal Education (SLE), and Lecturer in MLA

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.

MLA 304: The Colorado River: A Case Study of the History and Future of Western Water
Natural Science or Social Science
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 63177
Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law, and Perry L. McCarty Director & Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment

Some have called it the American Nile.  Running 1,450 miles, but carrying only three percent of the volume of the Mississippi, the Colorado River traverses two nations and seven states, provides lifeblood for most major Southwest cities, and irrigates 5.7 million acres of farmland. This course will use the Colorado River to examine major issues of contemporary water policy, while also delving into the history of the Southwest’s reliance on the river and the disputes that this reliance has generated.   Starting with the history, we will look at John Wesley Powell and his study of the arid West, the agreements that divide the river among contending jurisdictions, the coming of the federal reclamation program and the major Colorado River dams, and the historic Supreme Court case of Arizona v. California (which remains the longest lasting water case in the nation).  We will then examine a variety of important contemporary water issues from the perspective of the river and of the cities, farmers, and wildlife who rely on it, including: (1) opportunities to reduce urban water use through conservation, recycling, and desalination, (2) Indian water rights, (3) water markets (in which cities like San Diego are buying water from agricultural regions like the Imperial Valley), (4) river restoration (in particular, current efforts to restore water to the Colorado River Delta), and (5) the emerging implications of climate change.

MLA 305: Russia Encounters the Enlightenment: The Arts, Culture, and Politics
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 58028
William H. Bonsall Professor of History

Co-taught with Jack Kollmann, Lecturer in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

The course examines Russia's encounter with the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century - it was a time of dynamic change in social values, elite culture, artistic expression and political ideology. The course
explores how Russians absorbed ideas emanating from various "Enlightenments" - a wave of classical learning coming to Russia from Poland through Ukraine in the late seventeenth century; later, the influence of the German Enlightenment, finally, the French Enlightenment. These trends introduced new concepts of the individual, state and society, and the relationship of state and society. Enlightenment trends spawned
new genres in art, architecture and literature. They depended upon advancements in literacy, education, communcation and printing. All this took place in a society where a tiny landlord class ruled over enserfed
peasants and the autocratic state ruled over a vast empire of dozens of national minorities, maintaining a centralized bureaucratic state with virtually no institutions of political participation. So one of the
abiding tensions of the course pits the Enlightenment's goal of self perfection and freedom against Russia's autocratic state; another tension is the narrowness of the elite who participated the Enlightenment learning
and practices that we will study, and coming to grips with the relative historical importance of this experience. 

MLA 306: The Young Romantics: Mythmaking, Monstrosity, and Representation
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 58029
Professor of English

The Romantic poets who blazed paths of intensity and inspiration as they reached for the stars left aborted dreams, broken lives, and wild fragments of imagination behind them. This course will examine the myth of the modern Prometheus in the making--and the wreckage of ugliness and pain that so often surround sublimity. We will read works by the poets Lord Byron (mad, bad, and dangerous to know), Percy Bysshe Shelley (Satanist and apocalyptic visionary), and John Keats (that fiery particle snuffed out by an article). We will also read Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, both as a novelist and biographer-mythmaker, and the “lives” of the poets by their friends Thomas Jefferson Hogg and Edward Trelawny. We will study the relation between representation and legend. 

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1004
Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

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.

Summer: 
MLA 308: Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Man, the Movement, and the Legacy
Humanities or Social Science
Mondays, 5:15pm-9:20pm; June 23-July 28 (six sessions)
Axess #: 44661
Professor of American History and Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

The MLA Program is partnering with the CSP lecture series on Martin Luther King, Jr. for this course. Enrolled MLA students will attend the MLA seminar portion from 5:15-7:15pm (a light dinner will be provided). MLA students will then join the CSP lecture from 7:30-9:20pm.

Using the unique documentary resources and publications of Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, this course will be taught by Clayborne Carson, the scholar selected by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband. The seminar and lectures will illuminate the Nobel laureate’s religious roots and visionary ideas and devote special attention to crucial episodes in the civil rights movement, including the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1963 Birmingham campaign, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, and the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign. The course will be enriched by audio-visual materials and segments of documentaries such as Eyes on the Prize—one of many documentaries to which Professor Carson has contributed as an advisor or interview subject. Guest speakers will include Clarence B. Jones, King’s legal advisor and co-author of Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation; and Michael K. Honey, author of Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign. MLA students will have access to the King Institute's resources, and, beyond the seminar discussions with Professor Carson, will benefit from opportu