2016-2017 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 #: 1077
Lecturer in CSP and MLA

The first quarter of the Foundations sequence will range from the early second millennium BCE to the early first millennium 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 tenets of the world's most influential ethical and metaphysical traditions: Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam.

MLA 327: Great Poems of the English Language: Modern and Contemporary
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00pm-9:30pm
Axess #: 30129
Professor of English

This course is a critical exploration of the verse forms, themes, and poetic theory and experimentation characterizing Modern and Contemporary poetry. The roster features Victorians who cross the bridge into Modernism, priests of High Modernism such as Eliot and Pound, Irish poets who glorify a pre-modern past, Imagists, American visionaries and eccentrics, voices from the Harlem Renaissance, Caribbean postcolonial poetry, the relation of poetry to madness, and lesbian and feminist perspectives. The poets include Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, W. B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, and Eavan Boland.

MLA 328: The Scientific Revolution
Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30127
Professor of History

The modern sciences trace their origins to the 16th and 17th centuries, during which time natural knowledge took on dramatically new shapes at the hands of people such as Nicholas Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and Isaac Newton.  These figures and their contemporaries proposed radically different ways to study, understand and explain the cosmos, and they also founded new institutions devoted to this purpose: for example, the Accademia del Cimento (Academy of Experiment) in Florence; the Royal Society in London; and the Académie des Sciences in Paris.  Through these developments, the natural sciences began to assume their modern form in several dimensions: theoretical, experimental, methodological and institutional.  The course will study these origins of modern science in relation to the political, religious, and cultural context in early modern Europe.

MLA 398: Thesis in Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1074
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 #: 1070
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 295: The American Enlightenment
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #:
Professor of History and, by courtesy, of Classics

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. 

MLA 329: International Women's Health
Natural Science or Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #:
Consulting Professor, Human Biology

This course provides an overview of international women’s health issues presented in the context of a woman’s life, beginning in infancy and childhood and moving through adolescence, reproductive years, and aging.  The approach to women’s health is broad, taking into account economic, social, and human rights factors and particularly the importance of women’s capacities to have good health and manage their lives in the face of societal pressures and obstacles. Attention will be given to critical issues of women’s health, such as: discrimination against women; poverty; unequal access to the cash economy, education, food, and health care; and violence.  Issues such as maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, violence in the home and in conflict and refugee situations, unequal access to economic opportunity, and sex trafficking will be discussed, with particular emphasis on promising interventions relating to the issues.

MLA 330: Topics in African American History and Culture
Humanities or Social Science
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #:
Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History

This course provides an introduction to some of the central questions in African American history. Topics includes: the transatlantic slave trade; slavery and freedom in the Age of Revolution; the slave's narrative; emancipation; black politics in the age of Jim Crow; the Harlem Renaissance; the Civil Rights Movement; and the slavery reparations debate. Readings include classic texts by such writers as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright.

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1071
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 #: 1057
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 298: Heretics, Prostitutes, and Merchants: The Venetian Empire
Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 34624
Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of History and Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian

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.

MLA 305: Russia Encounters the Enlightenment: The Arts, Culture, and Politics
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 34625
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" - in the late seventeenth century a wave of classical learning from Poland through Ukraine; in the early eighteenth century the pietistic German Enlightenment and later in the century the more liberal French Enlightenment. Russia’s embrace of the Enlightenment trends depended upon modest but real advances in literacy, education, communication and printing; it was most obviously expressed in new genres in art, architecture, poetry and fiction, memoirs and theater. Enlightenment ideas introduced to Russia’s noble elite and to its tiny literate middle class new concepts of the individual and the relationship of state and society; we shall explore how they were integrated into or received by Russia’s existing Orthodox Christian code of morals, ethics and politics. 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. One of the abiding themes of the course is a tension between Enlightenment goals of self-perfection and personal freedom and Russians’ tendency to embrace the Enlightenment in moral terms.

MLA 332: London: 101 Years in Fiction
Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 34635
Associate Professor of English

Britain’s capital is ancient and modern, parochial and cosmopolitan, grand and seedy, open and labyrinthine. A glistening river ebbs and flows through its center; its streets (like its inhabitants’ lives) are often dark and tangled.
The main focus of this class is a set of novels set mainly in London and written between 1907 and 2008. The timeframe is not determined simply by the vagaries of publication date: instead it is designed to be a chronological sweet-spot. The shadow of the 19th century still hangs over the starting point for our course, the period includes the trauma of two world wars as well as the collapse of the British Empire, and the ending point gives us a window onto the new, post-9/11 realities of the 21st century. We’ll read books by, amongst others, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Neil Gaiman, Monica Ali, Ian McEwen and Xiaolu Guo. In these novels, the city is not just a backdrop but something more like a character.
The sessions will be centered on discussions of the assigned books, but the class will also look at materials in other genres and media (photographs, poems, maps, paintings, websites) to help expand students' understanding and enjoyment of the city they are exploring in fiction.

MLA 398: Thesis in Progress
Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 1056
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 331: The Biology of Monterey Bay
Natural Science
Axess #: TBA
Professor of Biology (Hopkins Marine Station)

Co-taught with Joyce Moser, Associate Director, Stanford Introductory Studies

Monterey, the capital of Alta California under Spain and Mexico, became part of the United States in 1846.  It is a place of great beauty, exceptional natural richness, and deep literary and artistic heritage.  It is also the location of Stanford's famous Hopkins Marine Station, which will be home base for part of  our course.  We will explore Monterey and Cannery Row on foot and through Steinbeck's writings, as well as the natural history and marine biology of the bay.  An abiding theme of the course is the fundamental importance of immersing oneself in nature, and we are going to experience this first-hand while hiking along the shore and in the pristine wilderness of Big Sur.  These adventures will be the background for discussions of what it means to be a productive and happy person in a time of change, a discussion that will draw deeply from advances in human neurobiology.  The intent is to engage in personal discovery, so come prepared to share your experiences with the group. Readings and writing will be assigned.

Thursday, June 22 6:30-9:30 on campus
Saturday, June 24 10:30-5pm in Monterey
Sunday, June 25 10:30-3pm in Monterey
Thursday, June 29 6:30-9:30pm on campus
Saturday, July 1 10:30-5pm in Monterey
Thursday, July 6 6:30-9:30pm on campus

MLA 333: Brexit
Social Science
Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30pm;
8 weeks, June 28-August 16
Axess #: TBA
Hoover Senior Fellow and Professor, by courtesy emeritus, of Political Science

The vote for Brexit by Britain in June, 2016 signaled a profound shift in direction in domestic and international politics in the UK; significantly, it also symbolizes a surge in nationalist politics in a number of countries, including the United States, Hungary, Poland, Russia, China, and the Philippines. This course will explore this new politics and its impact on domestic as well as international affairs.  We will share the challenge of keeping up with international political developments during this extraordinary season of change.