2014-2015 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 #: 10046
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 #: 10045
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 286: Cheesecake or Peacock Feathers: Evolutionary Theories of Music
Natural Science or Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30140
The Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music and The William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Fellow in Undergraduate Education

Music is a pervasive, often obsessive aspect of human behavior. We tend to strongly associate music with salient life events ('They're playing our song') and we often use music to (consciously or sub-consciously) assist us in remembering. Music is associated with physical motion - whether simply tapping feet or the carefully choreographed complex moves of a ballet dancer. Music and language share mental processing resources, yet have a high degree of independence. Over the past decade a number of hypotheses have been raised regarding the possibility that music is evolutionarily adaptive. In this course we will consider these theories, and, in so doing, explore the phenomenon of music in our lives.

MLA 310: Modern Chinese History, Part 1: Master Class in History and Historiography
Humanities or Social Science
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30141
Associate Professor of Modern Chinese History

Rapidly becoming the most influential country in the world, China has undergone epic changes over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the span of less than two hundred years, it has witnessed colonial incursions by multiple Western powers, the demise of an imperial system over two millennia old, a period of widespread political and social fragmentation, a debilitating war against Japan, a Communist revolution that dwarfed in size its Russian counterpart, and a tumultuous period of Communist rule that has itself fluctuated between periods of unprecedented economic growth and chaos.
This course is part one of a two-part Master Class in Modern Chinese History. Students will leave this class with a grounded and precise comprehension of modern China’s major historical transformations. This class will be of interest to scholars trying to grasp contemporary Chinese politics, society, economy, culture, gender, ethnicity, and international relations. This course is the required gateway to Modern Chinese History Part II: Master Class in Historical Research, to be offered during the 2015-16 academic year.       

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 10047
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 #: 1056
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 311: Paleography: the Study of Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30406
Professor of English, Emeritus

Co-taught with David Jordan, Assistant Director of Library Development, and Associate Curator for Paleographical Materials.

This introductory course in the history of writing and of the book, from the late antique period until the advent of printing, offers an opportunity to learn to read and interpret medieval and early modern manuscripts, primarily in Latin but also in vernacular scripts.  The seminar focuses on paleography but touches upon several related disciplines in manuscript studies and codicology.  It provides critical training and skills applicable to the reading of manuscripts of all eras for advanced students of the humanities and liberal arts. A special emphasis of this year’s course will be the examination of newly available digital content and recently developed transcription tools for the study of medieval manuscripts. Each session will include hands-on examination of original materials in Special Collections of Stanford Libraries, and each student will work with a manuscript related to his or her own fields of interest for the class project.  Some acquaintance with Latin is desirable but not required.

MLA 312: The Visual and Literary Culture of the American Civil War
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30407
Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities

In this course we will consider closely the work of photographers such as Alexander Gardner and Mathew Brady; painters such as Winslow Homer and Frederic Church; poets such as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson; and novelists and short story writers such as Stephen Crane and Ambrose Bierce.  We will also “visit” different sites related to the war, including spots around Washington, D.C., and also the battlefields at Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Spotsylvania, considering the affective remains of the past at these places. The course emphasizes close analysis of photographs, paintings, architecture, poems, prose, homely artifacts, and physical spaces and places. 

MLA 313: The Responsibility of Intellectuals
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30416
Professor of English, Emeritus

This MLA course introduces, for discussion, some of the ideas, speculations, provocations and theories of ten individuals often considered to be “intellectuals.” The course will put this nomenclature under close observation and will, in so doing, be preoccupied with certain questions:

  1. Where did the word come from, what today does it mean, and is it, in fact, a usefully illuminating term?
  2. Are “intellectuals” a class; do they all work in roughly the same way; by what, if anything, are they unified?
  3. Are “intellectuals” to be found on a particular place within the spectrum of ideological belief and practice?
  4. By whom are “intellectuals” taken seriously? What impact have they had on the societies in which they have been found?
  5. Are “intellectuals” fundamentally (but perhaps usefully) inimical to value of the societies they inhabit?

The course will focus on one individual “intellectual” each week and the aim of our meetings will be to bring to the table our best thoughts about the assigned reading and, thereafter, to come to an evaluation of that reading.

This course is generously supported by David Soward, MLA '04.

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1057
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 #: 1043
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 314: Social and Environmental Sustainability: The Costa Rican Case
Natural Science or Social Science
Mondays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30837
Bing Professor in Human Biology, Department of Anthropology, and Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment

This seminar focuses on issues of tropical sustainability with a particular emphasis on the Osa-Golfito Region of Costa Rica. The course highlights issues of human development in the tropics, through such means as agricultural development, ecotourism, conservation efforts, private and indigenous reserves, and mining.  The course will draw from diverse disciplines including anthropology, rural sociology, and conservation biology, to ask can one truly put together integrated conservation-development projects (ICDPs) or are they merely a pipe dream?  Course readings include a selection of classics on the topic, as well as key readings and lectures from the INOGO project.  Some researchers view the Osa-Golfito Region as a microcosm of a more global challenge:  can we find a viable path to sustainable development for the planet?  What will it look like? 

MLA 315: Vital Issues in American Foreign Policy
Social Science
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30838
Hoover Senior Fellow and Professor, by courtesy emeritus, of Political Science

This seminar examines the vital issues facing the Obama Administration’s foreign policy during its last two years in office.
President Obama took office in 2009, not in the context of the expected peace and prosperity and thriving democracy but instead facing severe challenges globally. This seminar will examine those challenges, how the Obama administration has responded to them and analyze the quality of that response---speculating about future policy outcomes.The seminar will begin with an examination of historical trends and experiences in American foreign policy. Then the seminar will discuss the landscape of current challenges followed by a week by week focus on specific issues. These will include the myriad of troubles in the Middle East, the resurgence of Russian belligerence and its consequences including the conflict in the Ukraine. It will also look at the continued economic troubles in Europe and the European Community that have been weakening the Western Alliance. Finally the seminar will explore the Administration’s declared “pivot to Asia, including the relationship with China, with Japan, with southeast Asia.  Finally, the seminar will try to assess the quality of President Obama’s foreign policy especially as it compares to recent, previous presidential administrations.

MLA 316: Latin@ Literatures
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33261
Professor of Iberian and Latin American Cultures

We will be reading narratives by U.S. Latinas and Latinos of Mexican, Dominican, Guatemalan, Cuban and Puerto Rican descent through the lens of latinidad, exploring both commonalities and distinctiveness. The terms Latino, Latina and Latin@ refer exclusively to people of Latin-American descent living in the United States. The peoples of Latin-American nations all share the historical experience of Spanish colonization and U.S. (neo)imperialism, yet they differ in their im/migration patterns to the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean and other Latin American countries (as well as similarities and differences in their very ability to im/migrate). The narratives we will study trace the relationships between Latin@s’ social, cultural, and political trajectories and concepts of home and homeland, nation and family, diaspora and migration, history and memory. We will use the critical lens called queer of color critique to examine how processes of racialization inform the production of sexualities and genders as well as how these processes are inflected by socio-economic status. Additionally, we will analyze the formal strategies of these narratives (looking at narration, detail, style, point of view, characterization, dialogue and figurative language). By the end of the quarter, you will have a solid command of Latin@ literature and a good grasp of the issues defining the field.

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1042
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 317: James Joyce: The Early Years (and a look at Ulysses)
Humanities
Thursdays, 6:30-9:30pm;
June 25 through August 20 (no class July 23)
Axess #: 24056
Professor of English, Emeritus

This course will focus on the early part of the career of James Joyce. We will read and discuss Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the first three episodes of Ulysses. We will seek to understand the complex relationship of Joyce's life in Dublin to the fictions recording and reshaping that life. We will also try to determine how the fictional techniques employed in the first two works led to those in Ulysses.

MLA 318: Early English Literature: Manuscripts and Texts
Humanities
Wednesdays, 6:00-8:30pm (6 weeks); plus
two Saturday 5-hour "labs" at the library (dates TBD)
Axess #: 24055
Professor of English, Emeritus
Co-taught with David Jordan, Assistant Director of Library Development, and Associate Curator for Paleographical Materials.
This seminar will consider the production, reception, and analysis of medieval English manuscripts. The seminar primarily aims to provide critical training and skills applicable to the reading of manuscripts of earlier eras. Students will have opportunities for hands-on examination of original materials in Special Collections of the Stanford Library. Each session will combine discussion of the assigned readings, practice in transcribing and editing, and close reading of selected literary and historical texts in modern editions in comparison with readings of the same texts first in medieval and early modern manuscripts, and then in early printed and fine press editions. Expect to spend time with unique, curious, and beautiful manuscripts from the early years of written English.
MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1665
Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program