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TAPS 258: Black Feminist Theater and Theory (AFRICAAM 258, CSRE 258, FEMGEN 258X)

From the rave reviews garnered by Angelina Weld Grimke's lynching play, Rachel to recent work by Lynn Nottage on Rwanda, black women playwrights have addressed key issues in modern culture and politics. We will analyze and perform work written by black women in the U.S., Britain and the Caribbean in the 20th and 21st centuries. Topics include: sexuality, surrealism, colonialism, freedom, violence, colorism, love, history, community and more. Playwrights include: Angelina Grimke, Lorriane Hansberry, Winsome Pinnock, Adrienne Kennedy, Suzan- Lori Parks, Ntzoke Shange, Pearl Cleage, Sarah Jones, Anna DeVeare Smith, Alice Childress, Lydia Diamond and Zora Neale Hurston.)
Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2018 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 8: Sustainability and Collapse

What does it mean to live sustainably? How do our different definitions of nature ¿ scientific, literary, cultural, and historical ¿ shape the way we answer that question? nnSustainability and Collapse will explore what people in different places and periods of time have envisioned as successful ways of living with nature and how such ways of life have come under pressure. We will focus particularly on the interface between scientific and humanistic approaches to questions of environmental sustainability through a study of novels, historical texts, and works of biogeography. You will learn to ask how textual and visual images inform our ideas about what it means to live sustainably. We will then consider whether those ideas are in accordance with or in conflict with scientific understandings of human uses of nature. This course takes on some of the fundamental problems that presently confront our global community.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2013 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 24: Evil

What is evil? Are we naturally good or evil? How should we respond to evil? There are many books and courses that focus on the good life or the virtues. Yet despite their obvious apparent presence in our life and world, evil and the vices are rarely taken as explicit topics. We will read philosophical and literary texts that deal with the question of evil at a theoretical level, but will also focus on some practical implications of these issues. By exploring evil, we will confront larger questions about the nature of human beings, the appropriate aims of the good society, the function of punishment, and the place of morality in art.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 31: Race in American Memory

How have Americans remembered the Civil War - what it meant, what it accomplished, and what it failed to accomplish? How did Americans reimagine the United States as a nation after the war? Who belonged in the national community and who would be excluded? In 1865, the peace treaty was signed at Appomattox and the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, but the battle over memory and national identity had just begun. The questions that the Civil War addressed - and failed to address - continue to affect our lives today. We will focus on how Americans negotiated issues of cultural memory and national identity through a close analysis of historical texts, novels, poems, films, paintings, cartoons, photographs, and music. Our interpretations will foreground the particular themes of race and nationhood, freedom and citizenship, and changing notions of individual and collective identity. Our assumption in this course is that history is not available to us as a set of events - fixed, past, and more »
How have Americans remembered the Civil War - what it meant, what it accomplished, and what it failed to accomplish? How did Americans reimagine the United States as a nation after the war? Who belonged in the national community and who would be excluded? In 1865, the peace treaty was signed at Appomattox and the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, but the battle over memory and national identity had just begun. The questions that the Civil War addressed - and failed to address - continue to affect our lives today. We will focus on how Americans negotiated issues of cultural memory and national identity through a close analysis of historical texts, novels, poems, films, paintings, cartoons, photographs, and music. Our interpretations will foreground the particular themes of race and nationhood, freedom and citizenship, and changing notions of individual and collective identity. Our assumption in this course is that history is not available to us as a set of events - fixed, past, and unchanging. Rather, history is known through each generation's interpretations of those events, and these interpretations are shaped by each generation's lived experience. What stories get told? Whose stories? And in what ways? The stories we choose to tell about the past can shape not only our understanding of the present, but also the kind of future we imagine and strive to realize.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 43: What is Love?

Is love a spiritual or a bodily phenomenon? Is the concept of love timeless or ever changing? How does thinking about love lead us to ask other important philosophical and social questions? In this course we will examine the classical roots, medieval developments, and contemporary permutations of Western ideas of romantic love. With an eye to thinking about representations of love in our own culture, we consider some of the foundational love books of the Western tradition. From Plato's Symposium to Chester Brown's graphic novel Paying For It, we ask the fundamental question of whether and how we might distinguish between spiritual and physical desire. We consider how medieval and contemporary writers dealt with the relation of love to sex, power, money, marriage, and gender. We discuss these works of the past, for example the illicit love in the courtly romance Tristan, in tandem with representations of clandestine love from the present day, such as the portrayal of same-sex love in Brokeback Mountain.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

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, last offered Winter 2017 | 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, last offered Spring 2017 | 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: not given this year, last offered Spring 2018 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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