Skip to content Skip to navigation

2022 - 2023 Curriculum

Books

Autumn

MLA 101A: Foundations I

Peter Mann

Lecturer, MLA and CSP

Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm

The first quarter of the Foundations sequence introduces students to the critical reading of literary works in historical context. The time span ranges roughly two thousand years, from the second millennium BCE, when the epic of Gilgamesh assumed written form, to Augustine's articulation of Christianity and the self shortly before the fall of Rome. Students will read epics, tragedies, philosophical works, natural history, lyric poetry, satire, autobiography and theology from Ancient Assyria, Greece, Rome, and China. 

MLA 102: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Graduate Study

Linda Paulson

Associate Dean & Director, MLA Program
Charles JunkermanAssociate Provost & Dean, Continuing Studies (1999-2018)

Required of second-year MLA students
Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

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, Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, Balzac, Douglass, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Lincoln, Darwin, Woolf, Hughes, as well as selected poetry and critical writings. The course will culminate in a research paper and a presentation of each students' findings.

MLA 368: Russia and Ukraine: Historical Interconnections

Nancy Kollmann

William H Bonsall Professor of History

Humanities
Mondays, 7:00-9:30pm

The course explores the separate histories and cultures of Ukraine and Russia – from the tenth through the seventeenth centuries  and concludes by analyzing nationalist discourse on both sides in eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and Russia’s imperial governance of Ukraine through mid-nineteenth century. Class will consist of lectures and discussion of readings, which will include extensive primary sources.

MLA 369: Mapping Poverty, Colonialism, and Nation Building in Latin America

Alberto Diaz-Cayeros

Senior Fellow, Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law and Director, Center for Latin American Studies

Social Science
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm

Cartography is one of the main devices through which humans have attempted to capture and understand complex social, economic and political phenomena. Map-making in Latin America was one of the most important processes of discovery and appropriation during the colonial period, as the Spanish and Portuguese (as well as the Dutch, French and English if we include the Caribbean islands) used mapping for practical uses related initially to navigation, and as a means of control and extraction of resources from their empires. Indigenous map making was used by the original peoples of the Americas as a form of resistance and a device for adaptation. This course uses mapping in colonial and early independent Latin America as a lens through which students may learn about the process of colonization, state building, and the legacies on those processes on poverty and underdevelopment today.

Winter

MLA 101B: Foundations II

Peter Mann

Lecturer, MLA and CSP

Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm

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

Caroline Winterer

William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies, Professor of History and, by courtesy, of Classics and of Education

Humanities
Mondays, 7:00-9:30pm

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 370: Henry David Thoreau: Seeing Into the Light of Things

Charles Junkerman

Associate Provost & Dean, Continuing Studies (1999-2018)

Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm

When you go to Walden Pond these days, you inevitably find yourself walking the trails with hundreds of pilgrims from around the world:  Brazil, France, Korea, China, Turkey . . . Thoreau has long been one of our country’s secular saints, and not just for one reason.  He was way ahead of his time, and publicly outspoken, on issues like abolition (his mother and sister were conductors on the Underground Railroad), education for children, women’s rights, Indian rights, what we today call “ecology” and environmental protection.  He was one of the first to translate Buddhist and Hindu texts for American readers, and was an early experimenter in a range of spiritual exercises: voluntary simplicity, self-relinquishment, contemplative solitude, and what is called “extrospection” (seeing through others’ eyes, including other species and what are often assumed to be inanimate objects like rocks and trees).   He was also a startlingly accomplished naturalist, one of Alexander von Humboldt’s most astute students, and one of the first readers to understand the earthquake-impact of Darwin.  William Blake once wrote, “When the doors of perception are open, we will see things as they are, infinite.”  Every afternoon, Thoreau walked out, with his doors wide open, a receptive and non-judgmental “seer,” and the next morning he wrote it all down in his Journal, the astonishingly gorgeous life-long record of his being in the world (of which we’ll read two edited versions).

In the seminar, we will immerse ourselves in Thoreau, but will also recruit a small band of philosophers and artists to help with our explorations (Constable, Ruskin, Heidegger, Merleau Ponty, Van Gogh, Frederic Edwin Church, James Turrell, John Cage, Annie Dillard, William James, Aldous Huxley, and – of course ­– Thoreau’s lifelong companion, Ralph Waldo Emerson). 

MLA 371: Narratives of Enslavement

Grant Parker

Associate Professor of Classics

Humanities
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm

Widely dispersed narratives by and about enslaved persons are the focus of this course. We’ll seek different ways to understand the concept of ‘slave narrative’ by comparing enslaved pasts via texts from the ancient Mediterranean, the Cape of Good Hope, and the United States. We’ll juxtapose famous autobiographies with less familiar material such as the micronarratives that can be reconstructed from court cases. Guiding questions include: What are the affordances, what are the limits of narrative as a source of insight into enslaved pasts? What notions of enslaved experience emerge? How different do such experiences seem when compared across time and space?

MLA 398: Thesis In Progress

Linda Paulson

Associate Dean & Director, MLA Program

Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm

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.

.