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THINK 44: Belief

Why do people believe in God? What does it mean for people to experience the supernatural? How do we understand belief in God? How do people convey experiences that are by definition extra-ordinary to others? In this course we ask the big (and unanswerable) question why people believe in God. Some scholars argue that belief results from direct experience, such as visions or moments of transcendence, that testify to God's existence. Others suggest that belief in the supernatural is better explained by the way the human mind has evolved or people's experience of the social world. In this class, we will pair medieval literature on Christian mysticism and magic with readings from modern psychology and anthropology. We will look at the dominant answers provided by each discipline. For example, belief might result from our sensory experience of the world, or it might have developed as part of our cognitive apparatus in response to fear. Our aim is to show how different disciplines can work together to cast light on a basic question of human existence.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 49: Stories Everywhere

Do we perceive the world through stories? Are we made of stories? Can we make sense of the world without narrative? The telling of stories is not just a form of entertainment but an essential human activity that moves and persuades us, compelling us to action and reflection. In this course, we will probe how moral, cognitive and historical forces give stories their power. You will be introduced to the basic theory and art of storytelling, enabling you to understand and master the fundamentals of narrative structure, plot, and character. This will allow you to practice producing your own stories through both interpretative and creative writing assignments. The class will also give students the chance to participate in various story-making activities and work with the Stanford Storytelling Project, San Francisco StoryCorps, School of the Arts and the Stanford Innocence Project to create assignments that would be useful to both private and nonprofit organizations.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-CE | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 53: Food Talks: The Language of Food

In this course, we examine how the ways we talk about food offers us a window into history, psychology, culture and economics. We ask students to think critically about language and taste as well as explore the hidden meanings and influence of the language that surrounds us. Students will analyze the language of food through menus, recipes, Yelp reviews, TV food shows, as well as the history and etymology of food words. Some of our examples will be drawn from East Asian food and culture in addition to, and as a point of contrast with, foods and cultures that may be more familiar to students.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 55: Understanding China through Film

How did China move from an imperial and colonized country to an independent modern nation? How did the Chinese people transform its tradition, create new ways of life and values, and move toward modernity? What can the films tell us about the most significant events in modern Chinese culture and history?nWe will learn about major social and cultural transformations in modern Chinese through film. We will analyze films as a window on the ongoing narrative of a people making history and responding to a changing circumstances of revolution, reform, political movements, and modernization. Students will study film images as an art that is intertwined with ordinary people, their lived experiences, cultural habit, moral values, and political consciousness. The course will highlight four major periods: the May Fourth New Culture (1919-1930), the socialist era, the Cultural Revolution, and the reform era of globalization since the 1980s. We will learn to be sensitive to film as a visual and dramatic medium that brings to life Chinese history and culture. Mandatory screenings will be held on Wednesdays 6:30pm-9pm.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 57: Progress: Pro and Contra

Where and when did we start believing in human progress? Does progress imply that history has a particular direction or end-goal?nMuch of our everyday thinking about politics, society, and history depends on some implicit or explicit concept of progress. Have we reached a point where we need to replace the idea of progress with that of sustainability? These are some of the questions this course will raise as it looks at how ideas of progress inform western thinking about science, history, evolution, and politics. It will engage with thinkers who argued in favor of the idea of progress as well as thinkers who attacked its presumptions. Reading and critically evaluating philosophical, scientific, and literary texts, we will investigate the different consequences of our residual belief in progress, as well as the consequences of our possible abandonment of that belief.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 59: Worlds of Sound: Learning to Listen

We live in a world of sound. In ways that we do not always see, our social practices and machines lead us to understand certain sounds as signal and filter out others as noise. Drawing on thinking from linguistics, musicology, science and technology studies, and literature, this class challenges freshmen to become aware of their own listening practices and to learn how to listen actively and critically. We ask students to think about how listening can give them knowledge about themselves; how it relates to memory and identity; and how it is like or unlike reading. We will then introduce issues related to listening and technology: how technology influences the perception of sound; the perceived lack of fit between noise and an individual's perception of it. Finally, we will address varies cultures of musical listening, the classical Western tradition, South Asian musical traditions, and the listening experiences of immigrant and minority communities.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 60: American Enemies

It would seem that an enemy should be easy to identify, but this course proposes that this involves deliberation, choice, and an assessment of consequences. We will explore modern American experiences in defining enemies, here defined as mortal threats to the state and the national collective. We will focus on ideas, thinking and assumptions rather than historical chronology. Who are enemies? How are they defined and by whom? How are enemies characterized and perceived? The narrative content of the course would be a historical study of the American engagement with enemies from 1942 to 1990. We will begin with the war or terror, return to consider the experience of the Japanese enemy of World War II, and then come up through the years of the Cold War and beyond.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

URBANST 27Q: Sophomore Seminar: Three Detectives, Three Cities

This seminar will analyze the social reality of three historic cities (London in the 1880s and 90s, San Francisco in the 1920s and 30s, and contemporary Shanghai) through the prism of popular crime fiction featuring three great literary detectives (Arthur Conan Doyle¿s Sherlock Holmes, Dashiell Hammett¿s Sam Spade, and Qiu Xiaolong¿s Chief Inspector Chen). As a student in this course, you will explore why crime fiction is so popular, why the fear of crime is so much a part of modern urban culture, and why the police detective and the private investigator have become iconic code heroes of pulp fiction, movies, TV shows, and even video games. If you take this class, you will have the opportunity to write a paper and present your research on one of the classic literary detectives or on one of today¿s related manifestations of the same impulse in mass-market tales of superheroes, vampires, and the zombie apocalypse.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Stout, F. (PI)

URBANST 153: CAPITALS: How Cities Shape Cultures, States, and People (COMPLIT 100, DLCL 100, FRENCH 175, GERMAN 175, HISTORY 206E, ILAC 175, ITALIAN 175)

This course takes students on a trip to eight capital cities, at different moments in time: Renaissance Florence, Golden Age Madrid, Colonial Mexico City, Enlightenment and Romantic Paris, Existential and Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Roaring Berlin, Modernist Vienna, and bustling Buenos Aires. While exploring each place in a particular historical moment, we will also consider the relations between culture, power, and social life. How does the cultural life of a country intersect with the political activity of a capital? How do large cities shape our everyday experience, our aesthetic preferences, and our sense of history? Why do some cities become cultural capitals? Primary materials for this course will consist of literary, visual, sociological, and historical documents (in translation); authors we will read include Boccaccio, Lope de Vega, Sor Juana, Montesquieu, Baudelaire, Dostoyevsky, Irmgard Keun, Freud, and Borges. Note: To be eligible for WAYS credit, you must take the course for a minimum of 3 Units and a Letter Grade.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

URBANST 182: Activating Urban Spaces: Materializing Hidden Narratives in the Urban Environment (ARTSINST 182)

This course will investigate the organization and shaping of public space from the perspective of story and narrative. The course will consider how authorized narratives feature in the built environment and in the social spaces and usage of the city and how unauthorized, sometimes contentious narratives lurk beneath the surface and persist on the "skin" of the city. It will investigate the role of artists and the arts in "mapping" or surfacing alternative stories, concepts and imaginations of how the city is or can be. Inspired by the writings of Michel DeCerteau and Italio Calvino, this class explores the role of narrative in the city and the imagination from the perspective of cultural memory, lived experience, usage of space and organization of the built infrastructure. It offers an alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they are formed and how they function. This class will utilize and combine active field research methods with creative practice. Locations for our field more »
This course will investigate the organization and shaping of public space from the perspective of story and narrative. The course will consider how authorized narratives feature in the built environment and in the social spaces and usage of the city and how unauthorized, sometimes contentious narratives lurk beneath the surface and persist on the "skin" of the city. It will investigate the role of artists and the arts in "mapping" or surfacing alternative stories, concepts and imaginations of how the city is or can be. Inspired by the writings of Michel DeCerteau and Italio Calvino, this class explores the role of narrative in the city and the imagination from the perspective of cultural memory, lived experience, usage of space and organization of the built infrastructure. It offers an alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they are formed and how they function. This class will utilize and combine active field research methods with creative practice. Locations for our field research and excursions will include areas around Stanford and the Bay Area. The class will function as a hybrid seminar and collaborative studio workspace supporting students interested in applying creative practices to field research to develop methods for materializing narratives in various forms of public performance or place-specific art.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Kayim, G. (PI)
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