Humanities courses should be integral to the university experience of almost any Stanford student. So whether you’re trying to fulfil WAYS requirements or expanding your intellectual horizons, here are five essential humanities classes to take this quarter.
HISTORY 139: Modern Britain and the British Empire, Professor Priya Satia
While those small islands off the coast of France now most frequently resemble an introspective backwater, Britain once ruled the waves, experiencing the first industrial revolution which laid the foundations for an empire that covered 25% of the world’s land area in 1945. Professor Satia, with her characteristic wit and sharp intelligence, provides a brilliant introduction to this fascinating country, charting the history of the British Isles and colonies from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to 2016 and Brexit.
Reading: Low to Medium
Times: Tues, Thurs 12-1.20
If you are feeling more ambitious, you can take Professor Satia’s seminar on the Global Left, HISTORY 201K. A must-take for those rare lefties at Stanford.
Reading: Very Heavy
Times: Wed 11:30-2:20
POLISCI 114S: International Security in a Changing World, Professor Scott Sagan
Last week President Trump quipped that he had a ‘much bigger’ button than ‘Rocket Man’ Kim Jong-Un. Given the extraordinary state of international affairs, what better class to take than the noted Scott Sagan’s International Security in a Changing World? This class explores the most pressing security questions of the modern day, from nuclear weapons to counter-terrorism efforts. The course is particularly notable for its two-day simulation of an international negotiation summit.
Times: Tues, Thurs 1:30-2.50
HISTORY 107D: Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery, 1500 to 1900, Professor Kathryn Oliviarus
Between 1500 and 1900, about 12 million people were forcibly removed from Africa and transported to the Americas to work as enslaved laborers. HISTORY 107D explores this history of Atlantic racial slavery as well as its continuing impact on the Americas. This is a great class for any American who wishes to understand the racial past of their country without narrowly limiting slavery to the United States. Professor Oliviarus is a rising star in the history department and is intensely intellectual. Make sure to take her class Age of Revolutions, HISTORY 205K, in the Fall.
Times: Mon, Wed Fri 12:30-1.20
POLISCI 234: Democratic Theory, Professor Brian Coyne
Democratic theory is a very good course for those who want to think deeply about the theory behind democracy. Professor Coyne encourages you to not take for granted that democracy is the ideal form of government, and he poses important and troubling questions. Where does its political legitimacy derive from? What if we had a wise philosopher-king who is guaranteed to make the best judgements for the state every single time? Why still insist on democracy?
Times: Tues, Thurs 12-1.20
HISTORY 238D: Germany and the World Wars, 1870-1990, Professor Edith Sheffer
If this list seems quite history-focused it is only because of the spectacular array of history classes on offer this quarter. There is no country or period quite like Germany from unification to reunification. Germany experienced fascism, liberalism, democracy, hyper-democracy, communism, genocide, dictatorship, empire. And the award-winning Professor Sheffer is the ideal figure to guide you through this troubling yet thrilling history with her particular emphasis on the lives of everyday people in the face of constant, extraordinary change.
Reading: Medium to High
Times: Mon 10:30-1.20