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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.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II

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.
Last offered: Spring 2018 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II

THINK 59: Worlds of Sound: Learning to Listen

We live in a world of sound. Even deafening silence has a profound sonic quality. In ways that we do not always recognize, our social practices lead us to understand certain sounds as desired signals and filter out others as unwanted noise. How are we hearing the world right now? How have the Coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the other developments of 2020 changed the world of sound in which we live? How have they changed the ways we listen? This class challenges freshmen to become aware of their own listening practices and how those practices affect their perception of the world. We think about how our bodies, our technology, the state, and the market affect what and how we hear. We explore what makes us remember some sounds more than others. Students in this class will write about their own experiences of listening as they develop their own archive of the sounds of Fall 2020; they will produce autoethnographic writing that they can use later to remember this unique historical moment.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II

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.
Last offered: Autumn 2019 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

THINK 64: Healing, Illness, Stories

This course focuses on multiple genres of narratives about illness and recovery: memoirs, graphic novels, poetry, fiction, essay, and documentary film. It asks what the power, if any, of narrative is in healing. Drawing upon the fields of literature and the practice of medicine, students will begin to grapple with the power of stories in illuminating the experience of illness and disability and in offering the possibilities for (self) transformation.
Last offered: Spring 2020 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II

THINK 66: Design that Understands Us

We find ourselves in an age of rapidly evolving technology, where the world we inhabit, increasingly, is the world we make. At Stanford, you will find many courses that ask you to make things¿everything from algorithms, products, policies, to artworks. What is rarer is to be given the space to stop and really think about why¿for what and for whom¿we design these things, and whether we should continue to design in ways demanded by commercial and political actors. This critical thinking course examines the nature, purpose, and meaning of design in human life, and asks the fundamental questions of ¿what is design?¿, ¿why do we do it?¿, and ¿how do design, technology, and society shape one another?¿. We will explore design as a series of choices and the ways in which we make these choices. This course will consider different models of design in our world today: from need-based design (as we are often taught) to the fashioning of tools that help us flourish as human beings. You will learn a more »
We find ourselves in an age of rapidly evolving technology, where the world we inhabit, increasingly, is the world we make. At Stanford, you will find many courses that ask you to make things¿everything from algorithms, products, policies, to artworks. What is rarer is to be given the space to stop and really think about why¿for what and for whom¿we design these things, and whether we should continue to design in ways demanded by commercial and political actors. This critical thinking course examines the nature, purpose, and meaning of design in human life, and asks the fundamental questions of ¿what is design?¿, ¿why do we do it?¿, and ¿how do design, technology, and society shape one another?¿. We will explore design as a series of choices and the ways in which we make these choices. This course will consider different models of design in our world today: from need-based design (as we are often taught) to the fashioning of tools that help us flourish as human beings. You will learn about various aesthetic and ethical frameworks and a fundamental language of design, so that you can begin to critically analyze everyday examples of media, tools, toys, and games¿and apply such lenses to designing conscientiously. You will learn to think about the design of social networks, artificial intelligence, musical instruments, games, virtual reality, and other examples¿in terms of needs and values, ethics and aesthetics. In short, through this course, you will learn to more clearly and critically view our technology-drenched human world¿and to exercise your ethical and artful imagination to reimagine better worlds.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-CE

THINK 67: What Makes Music Classical?

This course asks a question that can elicit a variety of responses. Classical music means different things to different people. For some it connotes Western art music of a particular historical era. According to this understanding, classical music follows baroque music and is superseded by romantic music; it develops a style, the classical style, as perfected by Haydn and Mozart. For others classical music has broader significance, referring to a cultural practice that predates the eighteenth century, going as far back as Gregorian chant and extending through the present. There are a variety of factors that define that practice, some more enduring than others: transmission through musical notation, theories of tonal systems, techniques of composition. Formal analysis, though often considered a sub-discipline of music theory and hence purely descriptive and objective, is hardly value free. Aesthetic interests and prejudices come into play, whether implicitly or explicitly.
Terms: Sum | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II

THINK 69: Emotion

In this course, we address basic issues about emotions and their place in human life from the perspectives of philosophy and psychology. We ask four fundamental questions: What is emotion? What is the appropriate place for emotions in our lives? How should we manage our emotions? Do emotions threaten the integrity of the agent? For instance, in asking how we manage our emotions, students will consider the Stoic view that emotions must be extirpated alongside psychological perspectives on the theoretical and empirical frameworks on emotion regulation.
Terms: Sum | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

THINK 70: Why College? Your Education and the Good Life

You¿re about to embark on an amazing journey: a college education. But what is the purpose of this journey? Why go to college? nSome argue that the purpose of college is to train you for a career. Others claim that college is no longer necessary ¿ that you can launch the next big startup and change the world without a degree. Peter Thiel offers students like you $100,000 to ¿skip or stop out of college¿ because ¿knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.¿* Why read Plato if you¿re a STEM major, after all? Why think about primate health if you¿re in the arts? nIn the face of such critiques, this class makes a case for an expansive education that trains your mind to engage with a variety of subjects and skills. The philosophy behind this model has traditionally been called ¿liberal education¿ (from the Latin word for freedom, libertas). Together we will explore the history, practice, and rationales for a liberal education by putting canonical texts in conver more »
You¿re about to embark on an amazing journey: a college education. But what is the purpose of this journey? Why go to college? nSome argue that the purpose of college is to train you for a career. Others claim that college is no longer necessary ¿ that you can launch the next big startup and change the world without a degree. Peter Thiel offers students like you $100,000 to ¿skip or stop out of college¿ because ¿knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.¿* Why read Plato if you¿re a STEM major, after all? Why think about primate health if you¿re in the arts? nIn the face of such critiques, this class makes a case for an expansive education that trains your mind to engage with a variety of subjects and skills. The philosophy behind this model has traditionally been called ¿liberal education¿ (from the Latin word for freedom, libertas). Together we will explore the history, practice, and rationales for a liberal education by putting canonical texts in conversation with more recent works. We will consider the relevance of liberal education to all areas of study, from STEM to the arts, and its relations to future careers. And we will examine the central place that the idea of ¿the good life¿ has historically enjoyed in theories of liberal education. You will be prompted to examine your own life, to question how and why you make decisions, and to argue for your views while respecting those of others. Maybe you will conclude that a liberal education is no longer relevant in the twenty-first century, but we hope that you will do so armed with a thorough understanding of what it has been and what it can be.nIn the end, college is less about what you will do in life, than about what kind of person you will be. So: what kind of person do you want to be? What kind of life will you live? Join us as we explore what others have said about these questions and prepare to answer them for yourself.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II

URBANST 27Q: The Detective and the City

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: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Stout, F. (PI)
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