Overview

Led by distinguished Stanford professors, Stanford Summer Humanities Institute lets rising high school juniors and seniors explore the big questions at the heart of humanities. What is evil? How do societies actually change? How does history affect our daily life?

Participants will spend three weeks on the beautiful Stanford campus in California, living in residence. They will attend daily lectures by Stanford faculty members and will participate in group discussions and activities in the afternoon. There will also be downtime for extracurricular fun, as well as supervised off-campus excursions to places of cultural and natural interest around the Bay Area.

During the program, participants will work closely with their professors, graduate students, and writing mentors to produce original research projects. These papers present an opportunity for participants to use the research skills they have acquired at Stanford to develop their own answers to the central questions that are addressed by the humanities. 

Courses - Through the following courses, participants will gain an appreciation for how the present world continues to be shaped and influenced by the past, but also a deeper understanding of how individuals in the past could view the world in ways that were sharply different from ours today. Participants will hone their skills for analyzing primary sources; formulating arguments from history, philosophy, and culture; and crafting a written research paper. The courses will be comparable to freshman-level introductory courses.

 

  • Session 1 (June 25 — July 14, 2018) 
    • The Age of Jefferson - This course will examine a few of these new ideas in the Age of Jefferson. Though we'll be using Jefferson's life, travels, and writings as a base, we'll range far afield to look at how he and famous contemporaries such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hume thought about their world. We'll frame our discussions around a series of questions that Jefferson and his contemporaries fiercely debated. 
    • Revolutions - Revolutions have the power to reshape the political order of the world more than any other social, economic, or cultural forces. But what exactly is a revolution? Is it, like Marx believed, the inevitable result of a social conflict? Or does it take determined revolutionaries to make a successful revolution? To have a revolution, do you have to call it "a revolution?" To answer these questions, the course will take students back to the early revolutions of 17th-century England, and the revolutions of America and France.
    • Rome - From a few huts on seven hills in the eight century (or so they say), Rome would grow into an empire that, at its greatest expanse, comprised all of western Europe, the north of Africa, the Middle East, and the territory west and south of the Black Sea; more impressive than its expanse, it would last, in its eastern half, until 1453. In this course we will study aspects of this historical phenomenon: read many of its most famous texts, reflect on how the Romans thought of themselves and others, follow its rise and fall as an empire, and remark throughout on how different it is from western societies today, even though the latter are profoundly indebted to it.
  • Session 2 (July 17 — August 14, 2018) 
    • Racial Identity in the American Imagination - From Sally Hemings to Barack Obama, this course explores the ways that racial identity has been experienced, represented, and contested throughout American history. Engaging historical, legal, and literary texts and films, we will examine the major historical transformations that have shaped our understandings of racial identity. We will also explore autobiography, memoir, photography, and music to consider the ways that racial identity has been represented in American society.  
    • Magical Realism and Globalization - What is “magical realism?” Is it a genre, a style, a label for elaborated fiction from the Third World? How does magical realism, a globalized phenomenon, reflect upon globalization itself? The course will address such questions by studying fascinating works (excerpts) from places as diverse as Cuba, Colombia, India, Germany, and the U.S. The two main goals will be 1) to trace the trajectory of the concept from its origins in 1920s post-expressionist painting to its contemporary developments, and 2) to articulate well-informed positions on the scholarly debates that pertain both particular seminal works and magical realism as a whole.
    • 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. Here we shall focus on the following three main questions: (I) What is the nature of evil?, (II) Are humans by nature good or evil?, and (III) How should we, as a society, deal with evil? We shall read philosophical and literary texts that deal with the question of evil at an abstract level and then use other readings that help us consider the more practical implications of the meaning and consequences of evil.

Cost and Session Information

Tuition includes housing and dining in supervised Stanford residencies, towels and bedding, field trip expenses, instruction, course materials and transportation between Stanford University and San Francisco International Airport. Financial aid is available.

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