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ENGLISH 112A: Humanities Core: Great Books, Big Ideas -- Europe, Middle Ages and Renaissance (DLCL 12, HUMCORE 12)

This three-quarter sequence asks big questions of major texts in the European and American tradition. What is a good life? How should society be organized? Who belongs? How should honor, love, sin, and similar abstractions govern our actions? What duty do we owe to the past and future? The second quarter focuses on the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity, Europe's re-acquaintance with classical antiquity and its first contacts with the New World. Authors include Dante, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Cervantes, and Milton.
Last offered: Winter 2018 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 114: Thinking with Poems

William Carlos Williams wrote that ¿a poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words. This class will consider lyric poems as machines for thinking, taking up the question of poetry's relationship to abstract, propositional thought. We will ask what kinds of thoughts poems as opposed to other genres of written discourse allow us to think, and explore how poems embody thought through careful attention to the mechanics of lyric form. The class will be organized into five units devoted to themes that our poems will address: love, nature, things, society, and death. While discussion of these themes will range broadly with the aim of maximizing their relevance to each participant in the class, our analysis will be tied closely to the individual poems in front of us. We will read a diverse set of poets writing in English stretching from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, including poems by Thomas Wyatt, William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Phillis Wh more »
William Carlos Williams wrote that ¿a poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words. This class will consider lyric poems as machines for thinking, taking up the question of poetry's relationship to abstract, propositional thought. We will ask what kinds of thoughts poems as opposed to other genres of written discourse allow us to think, and explore how poems embody thought through careful attention to the mechanics of lyric form. The class will be organized into five units devoted to themes that our poems will address: love, nature, things, society, and death. While discussion of these themes will range broadly with the aim of maximizing their relevance to each participant in the class, our analysis will be tied closely to the individual poems in front of us. We will read a diverse set of poets writing in English stretching from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, including poems by Thomas Wyatt, William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Phillis Wheatley, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Shelley, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claudia Rankine, and Jorie Graham, among others. This class should be of interest to all students and writers of poetry, as well as of special interest to those in the ¿literature and philosophy¿ track within the major.
Last offered: Autumn 2018 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 115: Mapping the Grand Tour: Digital Methods for Historical Data (CLASSICS 115, HISTORY 238C, ITALIAN 115)

Classical Italy attracted thousands of travelers throughout the 1700s. Referring to their journey as the "Grand Tour," travelers pursued intellectual passions, promoted careers, and satisfied wanderlust, all while collecting antiquities to fill museums and estates back home. What can digital approaches tell us about who traveled, where and why? We will read travel accounts; experiment with parsing; and visualize historical data. Final projects to form credited contributions to the Grand Tour Project, a cutting-edge digital platform. No prior experience necessary.
Terms: Win | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

ENGLISH 115A: Shakespeare and Modern Critical Developments

Approaches include gender studies and feminism, race studies, Shakespeare's geographies in relation to the field of cultural geography, and the importance of religion in the period.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II
Instructors: Parker, P. (PI)

ENGLISH 115C: Hamlet and the Critics (ENGLISH 215C, TAPS 151C, TAPS 251C)

Focus is on Shakespeare's Hamlet as a site of rich critical controversy from the eighteenth century to the present. Aim is to read, discuss, and evaluate different approaches to the play, from biographical, theatrical, and psychological to formalist, materialist, feminist, new historicist, and, most recently, quantitative. The ambition is to see whether there can be great literature without (a) great (deal of) criticism. The challenge is to understand the theory of literature through the study of its criticism.
Last offered: Winter 2019 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 116: Global English

Anglophone fiction confronts readers with a paradox: It uses English to describe situations where little English is spoken, and where other languages make their presence known in the form of borrowed words, translated phrases, and unfamiliar syntax. Combining global superstars like Salman Rushdie with lesser-known authors like Phaswane Mpe and Mayra Santos-Febres, the class looks at the globalization of English in three very different contexts: India, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic.
Last offered: Spring 2019 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

ENGLISH 118A: Illness in Literature: The Mind and Body in Pain

This class provides an overview of illness narratives in fiction from the 19th century to the present. We will examine how authors use language, plot, and structure to portray illness and even recreate its sensations within the reader. We will also study how domestic arrangements, art, medicine and technology mediate the experience of disease. Our discussion of fiction will be buttressed by theoretical texts about the function (and breakdown) of language when deployed to describe physical and mental suffering. Finally, we will consider the ethics of writing about illness. What does it mean to find beauty in descriptions of pain? What role can literature play in building empathy for experiences we have not (yet) experienced ourselves?
Terms: Win | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 120C: CALIFORNIA: A SENSE OF PLACE

Description: ¿A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest,¿ writes Joan Didion, ¿remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.¿ From the Gold Rush to Hollywood to Silicon Valley, Yosemite to the Salton Sea, in this course we¿ll encounter a series of writers and artists whose work is set in California, or participates in its imagining, and throughout consider how culture and a sense of place are closely related. How does a novel, photograph, or film conjure community or landscape? When we think of California, whose stories are included, and whose are left out? Possible texts: works by Mary Austin, Mike Davis, Rebecca Solnit, John Steinbeck, and Nathanael West; the films Sunset Boulevard,Clueless,and There Will Be Blood; and the art of Carlton Watkins, Dorothea Lange, Richard Misrach, Martín Ramírez, Wayne Thiebaud, and Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. We¿ll visit New Almaden, a quicksilver mine in the 19thcentury, later Superfund Site, now a museum and popular trail.*For the final paper, students will research a place in California of their choice. *Or a Mission mural walk, or the Oakland Museum of California.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Bolten, R. (PI)

ENGLISH 121C: Superheroes, Supercops: American Police Power

Description: America has an obsession with superheroes and a problem with police--the last decade has been dominated by both blockbuster superhero films and negotiations over police power. This course will take an intersectional, interdisciplinary, and critical look at models of police power as they appear in superhero/supercop texts, including film, thinkpieces, novels for young readers, and comics, as well as a look at the historic foundations of American policing and contemporary police theory. What do superheroes teach us about police? And what do police teach us about superheroes? How can we read cultural production around this topic in a useful way? What constitutes propaganda, and what constitutes useful debate?
Last offered: Summer 2019 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

ENGLISH 122C: Medieval Fantasy Literature

Description: Trolls, ogres, elves, dwarves, dragons, draugar, wizards, witches, and fairies¿these creatures and characters, so familiar to modern readers, moviegoers, and gamers, have an ancient pedigree stretching back into the darkness of prehistoric Europe, and have enthralled human imagination for just as long. This course visits their first emergence into written literary record during the medieval period, from the earliest Dark Age mythological folklore of Britain and Scandinavia to the courtly and whimsical romance of the high and late middle ages. What significance and meaning did medieval writers from different times and places see in magic and monsters; what superstitions and beliefs converged in their efforts to represent things ¿from the other side,¿ and what compelled them to do so? We will address such questions by reading the literature against the social, cultural, and religious contexts that shaped medieval life and artistic production; our goal is to discover how thes more »
Description: Trolls, ogres, elves, dwarves, dragons, draugar, wizards, witches, and fairies¿these creatures and characters, so familiar to modern readers, moviegoers, and gamers, have an ancient pedigree stretching back into the darkness of prehistoric Europe, and have enthralled human imagination for just as long. This course visits their first emergence into written literary record during the medieval period, from the earliest Dark Age mythological folklore of Britain and Scandinavia to the courtly and whimsical romance of the high and late middle ages. What significance and meaning did medieval writers from different times and places see in magic and monsters; what superstitions and beliefs converged in their efforts to represent things ¿from the other side,¿ and what compelled them to do so? We will address such questions by reading the literature against the social, cultural, and religious contexts that shaped medieval life and artistic production; our goal is to discover how these authors used the fantastic to moralize and theologize, to confront and explain alterity, and to thrill their readers. Finally we will turn to the modern era with J. R. R. Tolkien¿s The Fellowship of the Ring and Kazuo Ishiguro¿s The Buried Giant, reflecting on how professional and popular literary medievalism has cultivated the tropes of medieval fantasy to produce works which mediate between an imagined history, sublime fabrication, and contemporary concerns.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Ashton, M. (PI)
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