2015-2016 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 #: 16683
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 #: 16345
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 102: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Graduate Study
Required of 2nd-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 1076
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 319: Modern Chinese History through Literature and Film
Humanities or Social Science
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 28853
Associate Professor of Modern Chinese History

Emphasizing the historical/analytical value of Modern Chinese literature and film, each meeting will involve a hybrid lecture/discussion or (partial) film viewing/discussion centered around pivotal works.

MLA 320: Racial Identity in the American Imagination
Humanities or Social Science
Mondays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 28854
Assistant Professor of American History

From Sally Hemings to Barack Obama, this course explores the ways that racial identity has been experienced, represented, and contested throughout American history.  Engaging historical, legal, and literary texts and films, this course examines major historical transformations that have shaped our understanding of racial identity.  This course also draws on other imaginative modes including autobiography, memoir, photography, and music to consider the ways that racial identity has been represented in American society.  Most broadly, this course interrogates the problem of American identity and examines the interplay between racial identity and American identity. This course moves along both chronological and thematic axes to investigate the problems of racial mixture, mixed-race identity, racial passing, and racial performance across historical periods.  Themes of ambiguous, hidden, and hybrid identity will be critical to this course.  This course will also explore the interplay of the problems of class, gender, and sexuality in the construction of racial identity.

Winter: 
MLA 101B: Foundations II
Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 25562
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 302: Paris: Capital of the Modern World
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 45975
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 321: Great Ideas in Computer Science
Natural Science
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 46664
The Charles Simonyi Professor in the School of Engineering, Emeritus

This course covers the intellectual tradition of computer science, emphasizing the ideas that enabled the most important milestones in the history of the discipline. Topics include programming and problem solving; implementing computation in hardware; the theoretical limits of computation; cryptography and security; and the philosophy behind artificial intelligence.  No prior experience with programming is required; students will be doing some simple programming exercises, mostly using simulations of early computers.

MLA 322: Coffee, Sugar, and Chocolate: Commodities and Consumption in World History, 1200-1800
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 46494
Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of History and Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian

When you take your daily coffee or tea, possibly adding a spoonful of sugar, do you stop to think why and how this ordinary habit was formed for millions of people throughout the world?  
Many of the basic commodities that we consider staples of everyday life became part of an increasingly interconnected world of trade, goods, and consumption between 1200 and 1800. This seminar offers an introduction to the material culture of the late medieval and early modern world, with an emphasis on the role of European trade and empires in these developments.  We will examine recent work on the circulation, use, and consumption of things, starting with the age of the medieval merchant, and followed by the era of the Columbian exchange in the Americas that was also the world of the Renaissance collector, the Ottoman patron, and the Ming connoisseur.  This seminar will explore the material horizons of an increasingly interconnected world, the era of the Dutch East India Company and other trading societies, and the rise of the Atlantic economy.  It concludes by exploring classic debates about the “birth” of consumer society in the eighteenth century.  How did the meaning of things and people’s relationships to them change over these centuries?  Which commodities matter and why?  

MLA 398: Thesis in Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 25563
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 #: 26112
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 278: James Joyce's "Ulysses"
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 46952
Professor of English, Emeritus

A reading and interpretive analysis of James Joyce's Ulysses.  The class will engage with the book from as many approaches as time will allow: historical, linguistic, cultural, textual and etc., with the hope that Joyce's achievement will be seen as it is: one of the most significant literary achievements of the last one hundred years.

MLA 323: What Can Literature Tell Us About Human Rights?
Humanities or Social Science
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 47408
Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of Comparative Literature

This course first presents some basic readings in human rights—providing the historical background and documents we need to understand modern human rights work from an historical and legal angle.   We will consider both the ideals of human rights but also the conundrums they present.
To really understand how human rights looks on the ground, we will read a number of literary works from around the world that explore the contradictions and complexities of the principles that undergird our sense of human rights.  The course is premised on the belief that literature is uniquely able to illustrate, imagine, and test out human rights from a distinctly human perspective, with all the richness and nuance that term implies.

MLA 324: What is a Map?
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 47409
Associate Professor of Classics

This course - timed to coincide with the opening of the David Rumsey Map Center in April - is a wide-ranging inquiry in the the nature and history of maps. We’ll begin with some of the earliest surviving maps, then survey other historical maps and end up with contemporary technologies. Within the diversity of cartographic traditions discussed we’ll aim at a richer understanding of mapping as a human phenomenon. As part of their final project, students will create their own maps, responding to the varied cartographies we will have discussed. Students are encouraged to draw on their own experiences, interests and skills in choosing the subject of their maps. No previous map-making experience is required, and in fact, basic GIS training will be made available in conjunction with the course. Writing assignments will consist of: a write-up to accompany the original map; two detailed analyses of historical maps; and short weekly responses to the assigned readings.

MLA 398: Thesis in Progress
Fridays, 5:30-6:30pm
Axess #: 26111
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 325: From Manuscript to Printed Edition: What the Handwritten and Early Printed Works of Great English Authors Reveal
Humanities
Tuesdays/Saturdays
Axess #: 36880
Professor of English, Emeritus