Skip to content Skip to navigation

2018 - 2019 Curriculum

Books

Autumn

MLA 101A: Foundations I

Edward Steidle

Lecturer in CSP and MLA

Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 11336

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 102: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Graduate Study

Linda Paulson

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program
Paul Robinson, Richard W. Lyman Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus.

Required of second-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 11335

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, Wordsworth, Schubert, Balzac, Kierkegaard, Mann, 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 343: The Short Fiction of James Joyce and Flannery O'Connor

William Chace

Professor of English, Emeritus

Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30717

The purpose of this course is to compare the achievements of two of the most brilliant exponents of short fiction in English: James Joyce and Flannery O’Connor. Such comparison is warranted on several grounds. Both writers were raised as Roman Catholics and their faith is everywhere in their stories; both wrote as members of cultures subordinate to dominant cultures (Irish/English; Southern/Northern); both sought ways to reinvent the short story by imposing strictures of greater economy and precision of diction and by asserting severe authorial objectivity. At each of our meetings, save the first and the last, we will compare a story by Joyce and a story by O’Connor. We will determine what the stories have in common and how they differ. We will define the respective artistic strategies each story employs. We will assess the strengths and possible weaknesses of what we have read.

MLA 344: Making and Unmaking of Apartheid: Topics in South African History

James T. Campbell

Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History

Humanities or Social Science
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 30718

This seminar examines the history of South Africa, focusing on the modern period.  Topics include pre-colonial societies; the onset of European colonialism; the mineral revolution; the South African War; the making of the racial state; the histories of African and Afrikaner nationalisms; the rise and fall of apartheid; and the politics of post-apartheid transformation, including the Truth and Reconciliation process.

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress

Linda Paulson

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 11333

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

Edward Steidle

Lecturer in CSP and MLA
Jeremy SabolLecturer in SLE and in MLA.

Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 12110

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 329: International Women's Health

Anne Firth Murray

Consulting Professor, Human Biology

Humanities or Social Science
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33578

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 345: William Faulkner and Eudora Welty

Barbara Gelpi
Professor of English, Emerita

Albert GelpiCoe Professor of American
Literature, Emeritus

 

Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33586

In this seminar we will be reading and discussing works by William Faulkner (1897-1962) and Eudora Welty (1909-2001), two of the most distinguished American fiction writers of the twentieth century. There are good reasons for reading Faulkner and Welty with and against each other. Both were born in, lived in, and wrote about their Mississippi: a particular Southern culture of small towns (Faulkner in Oxford, Welty in slightly larger Jackson), surrounded by farmland and wilderness, still recovering from the effects and aftermath of loss of the Civil War, while resisting and succumbing to the inroads of urbanization and industrialization. Their psychological and moral explorations engage ongoing issues of class, gender, and race and show, in Faulkner’s words, that “the past is not dead. It is not even past.”

MLA 346: Into the Woods with Thoreau

Charles Junkerman

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

Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33587

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 398: Thesis-in-Progress

Linda Paulson

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

Fridays, 5:30-7:30pm
Axess #: 12111

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

Jeremy Sabol

Lecturer in Stanford's Program in Structured Liberal Education (SLE), and Lecturer in MLA

Required of first-year MLA students
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 12347

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 305: Russia Encounters the Enlightenment

Nancy Kollmann

William H. Bonsall Professor of History
Jack KollmannLecturer in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Humanities
Mondays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33692

The course examines Russia's encounter with the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, 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. 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 in the Enlightenment learning and practices that we will study, and coming to grips with the relative historical importance of this experience. 

MLA 347 Rome: From Pilgrimage to the Grand Tour

Paula Findlen

Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of History and Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian

Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33694

What lies beyond the ruins of an ancient city? How did Rome revive? The history of Rome from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance to the age of the Grand Tour. Topics include: the history of the papacy; the everyday world of Roman citizens; the relationship between the city and the surrounding countryside; the material transformation of Rome and projects to map the city; and its meaning for foreigners.

MLA 349: Britain Under Pressure

Gerald Dorfman

Hoover Senior Fellow and Professor, by courtesy emeritus, of Political Science

Social Science
Thursdays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 33695

This is an unusual time for Britain (UK). A number of forces and issues have converged to pressure Britain's usual stable democracy. In June 2016 at the end of a divisive, angry national referendum campaign the British electorate voted to leave its membership in the European Union (EU) on March 29, 2019. Since that vote, Britain has fallen into an unusually contentious transitional period afflicting its politics, economy, and national security as well as its future relationship with Europe and the United States. This seminar will examine Britain's contemporary difficulties seeking to put its situation in the context of the larger direction of western democracies.

MLA 398: Thesis-in-Progress

Linda Paulson

Associate Dean and Director, MLA Program

Fridays, 7:00-9:30pm
Axess #: 12346

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 326: Photography and Science

Robert Siegel

Professor (Teaching) of Microbiology and Immunology

Natural Science
Axess #: 23295

This course uses the idiom of photography to learn about nature, enhance observation, and explore scientific concepts. The course theme builds upon the pioneering photographic work of Eadweard J. Muybridge on human and animal locomotion. A second goal is to learn the grammar, syntax, composition, and style of nature photography to enhance the use of this medium as a form of scientific communication. Scientific themes to be explored include: taxonomy, habitat preservation, climate change; species diversity; survival and reproductive strategies; ecological niches and coevolution, carrying capacity and sustainability, population densities, predation, and predator-prey relationships, open-space management, the physics of photography.

We will also explore the themes of change across time and space. Assignments will combine visual and written presentations and write-ups based on student research. Course makes extensive use of field trips and class critique.

Thursday, August 15, 7-9:30pm
Saturday, August 17, 9am-2pm (exact times TBA)
Sunday, August 18, 1pm-4pm (exact times TBA)
Thursday, August 22, 7-9:30pm
Saturday, August 24, 9am-2pm (exact times TBA)
Sunday, August 25, 1pm-4pm (exact times TBA)
Thursday, August 29, 7-9:30pm

MLA 348: Modern Iranian Politics through Modern Iranian Art and Literature

Abbas Milani

Hamid & Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies

Social Science
Axess #: 23400

Facts of fiction are, critics tell us, as important of the fiction of facts.  In counties like Iran, where varieties of despotism have been the norm for a century, language of art has become not only more metaphoric but also a mirror of the political history of the country.  The purpose of this course is to learn the modern history of Iran through its masterpieces of fiction, poetry and cinema.  We will read literature and cinema to understand the history and politics of Iran, and will read scholarly accounts of modern culture and politics in Iran to better understand its literature and cinema.

 

Thursday, August 1, 7-9:30pm
Saturday, August 3, 10am-3pm (exact times TBA)
Sunday, August 4, 1pm-6pm (exact times TBA)
Thursday, August 8, 7-9:30pm
Saturday, August 10, 10am-3pm (exact times TBA)
Sunday, August 11, 1pm-6pm (exact times TBA)

.