Five Stanford Courses Available as Free Podcasts on iTunes

Over the past six months, Stan­ford has released sev­er­al pod­casts of full-fledged cours­es on iTunes. This past week, the uni­ver­si­ty released yet anoth­er — The Geog­ra­phy of World Cul­tures. You can now down­load five cours­es in total, all for free.Below, you’ll find links to each course, plus descrip­tions of what ground each course cov­ers. Please note that some of these cours­es can be down­loaded in full right now, while oth­ers are being released in week­ly install­ments. If you sub­scribe, you’ll receive all new install­ments when they come out.

For more pod­casts from lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties, please vis­it our Uni­ver­si­ty Pod­cast Col­lec­tion.

1. The His­tor­i­cal Jesus

Who was the his­tor­i­cal Jesus of Nazareth? What did he actu­al­ly say and do, as con­trast­ed with what ear­ly Chris­tians (e.g., Paul and the Gospel writ­ers) believed that he said and did? What did the man Jesus actu­al­ly think of him­self and of his mis­sion, as con­trast­ed with the mes­sian­ic and even divine claims that the New Tes­ta­ment makes about him? In short, what are the dif­fer­ences — and con­ti­nu­ities — between the Jesus who lived and died in his­to­ry and the Christ who lives on in believ­ers’ faith?

Over the last four decades his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship on Jesus and his times — whether con­duct­ed by Jews, Chris­tians, or non-believ­ers — has arrived at a strong con­sen­sus about what this unde­ni­ably his­tor­i­cal fig­ure (born ca. 4 BCE, died ca. 30 CE) said and did, and how e pre­sent­ed him­self and his mes­sage to his Jew­ish audi­ence. Often that his­tor­i­cal evi­dence about Jesus does not eas­i­ly dove­tail with the tra­di­tion­al doc­trines of Chris­tian­i­ty. How then might one adju­di­cate those con­flict­ing claims?

This is a course about his­to­ry, not about faith or the­ol­o­gy. It will exam­ine the best avail­able lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal evi­dence about Jesus and his times and will dis­cuss method­olo­gies for inter­pret­ing that evi­dence, in order to help par­tic­i­pants make their own judg­ments and draw their own con­clu­sions.

Thomas Shee­han, Pro­fes­sor of Reli­gious Stud­ies and Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Phi­los­o­phy

Thomas Shee­han joined Stan­ford’s Reli­gious Stud­ies fac­ul­ty in 1999 after teach­ing phi­los­o­phy for 30 years in the Unit­ed States and Italy. His inter­ests embrace clas­si­cal Greek and medieval phi­los­o­phy, 20th-cen­tu­ry Ger­man phi­los­o­phy and its rela­tion to reli­gious ques­tions, and Cen­tral Amer­i­can lib­er­a­tion move­ments. His many books and pub­li­ca­tions include: Becom­ing Hei­deg­ger (2006); Edmund Husserl: Psy­cho­log­i­cal and Tran­scen­den­tal Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy and the Encounter with Hei­deg­ger (1997); Karl Rah­n­er: The Philo­soph­i­cal Foun­da­tions (1987); The First Com­ing: How the King­dom of God Became Chris­tian­i­ty (1986); and Hei­deg­ger, the Man and the Thinker (1981).

2. Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Quan­tum Entan­gle­ment (Video)

The old Copen­hagen inter­pre­ta­tion of quan­tum mechan­ics asso­ci­at­ed with Niels Bohr is giv­ing way to a more pro­found inter­pre­ta­tion based on the idea of quan­tum entan­gle­ment. Entan­gle­ment not only replaces the obso­lete notion of the col­lapse of the wave func­tion but is also the basis for Bell’s famous the­o­rem, the new par­a­digm of quan­tum com­put­ing, and final­ly the wide­ly dis­cussed “Many Worlds” inter­pre­ta­tion of quan­tum mechan­ics by Everett.

This course stands on its own, but also serves as a con­tin­u­a­tion of a year-long course look­ing at the basics of quan­tum mechan­ics, entan­gle­ment, Bell’s the­o­rems, ele­ments of quan­tum com­put­ing, quan­tum tele­por­ta­tion, and sim­i­lar mate­r­i­al.

Leonard Susskind, Felix Bloch Pro­fes­sor in Physics

Leonard Susskind received a PhD from Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty and has been a pro­fes­sor at Stan­ford since 1979. He has won both the Pregel Award from the New York Acad­e­my of Sci­ence and the J.J. Saku­rai Prize in the­o­ret­i­cal par­ti­cle physics. His cur­rent research inter­ests include the struc­ture of hadrons, instan­tons, quark con­fine­ment, and quan­tum cos­mol­o­gy. He is a mem­ber of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences.

3. Vir­gil’s Aeneid: Anato­my of a Clas­sic

The cen­tral text in the canon of Latin lit­er­a­ture is Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic poem in twelve books com­posed more than two thou­sand years ago under the Roman emper­or Augus­tus. The poem was an instant hit. It became a school text imme­di­ate­ly and has remained cen­tral to stud­ies of Roman cul­ture to the present day. How can a poem cre­at­ed in such a remote lit­er­ary and social envi­ron­ment speak so elo­quent­ly to sub­se­quent ages? In this course we will dis­cov­er what kind of poem this is and what kind of hero Aeneas is. Our stud­ies will focus chiefly on the poem itself and on wider aspects of Roman cul­ture. It will be essen­tial to com­mit to read­ing the poem ahead of time, at a rate of about 100 pages per week. We will use the ener­getic trans­la­tion by Robert Fitzger­ald.

Susan­na Braund, Pro­fes­sor of Clas­sics

Susan­na Braund arrived at Stan­ford from Yale in 2004. Pri­or to that, she taught in the UK for twen­ty years, at the uni­ver­si­ties of Exeter, Bris­tol, and Lon­don. She is the author, edi­tor, and trans­la­tor of numer­ous books and papers on Latin lit­er­a­ture, espe­cial­ly Roman satire and epic poet­ry, includ­ing an intro­duc­to­ry vol­ume enti­tled Latin Lit­er­a­ture (Rout­ledge, 2002). Her pas­sion for mak­ing con­nec­tions between antiq­ui­ty and the mod­ern world is reflect­ed in her reg­u­lar radio broad­casts for KZSU called “Myth Made Mod­ern.”

4. Geog­ra­phy of World Cul­tures

Despite the sup­pos­ed­ly homog­e­niz­ing effects of glob­al­iza­tion, peo­ple con­tin­ue to be joined togeth­er and divid­ed asun­der by the lan­guages they speak, the reli­gions they fol­low, and the eth­nic iden­ti­ties to which they belong. Such cul­tur­al fea­tures all have spe­cif­ic geo­gra­phies, tied to par­tic­u­lar places. But while cul­tur­al-geo­graph­i­cal terms such as “the Ara­bic world” and “the Islam­ic world” are used ubiq­ui­tous­ly, many peo­ple remain uncer­tain where such “worlds” are and how they dif­fer from each oth­er.

The pur­pose of this map-inten­sive course is to explore the loca­tion­al dynam­ics of the world’s lan­guages, reli­gions, and eth­nic group­ings. We will exam­ine every world region, seek­ing to under­stand how places vary from each oth­er with regard to the cul­tur­al attrib­ut­es of their inhab­i­tants. The course will explore the his­tor­i­cal forces that have gen­er­at­ed cul­tur­al diver­si­ty, and will care­ful­ly exam­ine the process­es of con­tem­po­rary trans­for­ma­tion.

Mar­tin Lewis, Lec­tur­er in His­to­ry, Inter­im Direc­tor, Pro­gram in Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions

Mar­tin Lewis received a PhD from UC Berke­ley in geog­ra­phy. He is the author or co-author of four books, includ­ing The Myth of Con­ti­nents: A Cri­tique of Meta­geog­ra­phy (with Karen Wigen) and Diver­si­ty Amid Glob­al­iza­tion: World Regions, Envi­ron­ment, Devel­op­ment (with Lester Rown­tree, Marie Price, and William Wyck­off).

5. The Lit­er­a­ture of Cri­sis

Most human lives con­tain major turn­ing points: crises that trans­form an individual’s future devel­op­ment. On a much larg­er scale, cul­tures under­go crises too: polit­i­cal, intel­lec­tu­al, and reli­gious changes that alter for­ev­er the course of human his­to­ry. This course will focus on both kinds of cri­sis.

We will con­sid­er the per­son­al upheavals brought about by the polit­i­cal, social, reli­gious, and erot­ic ties of our authors and their char­ac­ters. These crises were piv­otal moments which dra­mat­i­cal­ly altered the tra­jec­to­ry of their lives. More­over, each of our texts reflects not only a per­son­al cri­sis but also the tur­bu­lence of its cul­tur­al envi­ron­ment; and each devel­ops a unique strat­e­gy for cop­ing with it.

In addi­tion to offer­ing a unique intro­duc­tion to these great texts, this course aims to pro­vide a con­cep­tu­al and his­tor­i­cal frame­work enabling you to address crises in your own life and in the mod­ern world with a greater degree of under­stand­ing and, per­haps, a clear­er sense of how to sur­vive them.

Marsh McCall, Pro­fes­sor of Clas­sics

Marsh McCall has taught at Stan­ford for 30 years and was the found­ing Dean of Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies. He received the Dinkel­spiel Award for Out­stand­ing Ser­vice to Under­grad­u­ate Edu­ca­tion and the annu­al Phi Beta Kap­pa Under­grad­u­ate Teach­ing Award.

Mar­tin Evans, William R. Kenan Jr. Pro­fes­sor in Eng­lish

Born in Cardiff, Great Britain, in 1935, Pro­fes­sor Evans emi­grat­ed to the Unit­ed States in 1963 after earn­ing his B.A., M.A., and D.Phil. degrees at Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty. His first post in this coun­try was as an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish in the Stan­ford Eng­lish Depart­ment, and he has been on the fac­ul­ty here ever since. From 1977–81, he served as Asso­ciate Dean of Human­i­ties and Sci­ences, from 1981–86 as the Direc­tor of Under­grad­u­ate Stud­ies for the Eng­lish Depart­ment, and from 1988–91 as Chair­man of the Eng­lish Depart­ment.

Get more free Stan­ford cours­es here.

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  • Frank Black says:

    Thanks for your gen­eros­i­ty in shar­ing these lec­tures. If they are all as enter­tain­ing­ly infor­ma­tive as Pro­fes­sor Rakove’s “Colo­nial and Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Amer­i­ca,” you can’t help but envi­ous of those for­tu­nate enough to receive a Stan­ford edu­ca­tion.

  • James says:

    Hel­lo there DHC, I am also inter­est­ed in this. (See my lat­est arti­cle.) This arti­cle is enjoy­able to read; you have def­i­nite­ly pro­vid­ed me with some food for thought.

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