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Freshman Seminars, Fall 2014

For enrollment information, please check the USC Schedule of Classes at


Anne Frank Was Not Alone: Holland and the Holocaust
Anthony Anderson
Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34609

In German occupied western Europe nowhere did the Nazis pursue their genocidal policies against the Jews with more zeal and devastating results than in the Netherlands. By the end of World War II more than 75% of the Jews living in Holland had perished in the Holocaust. This, in a nation which has been and is one of the world’s most tolerant and least anti-Semitic societies.

This course will explore this enormous tragedy which befall Dutch Jewry. Particular emphasis will be given to examining the agonizing ethical choices which confronted the Dutch, both Jewish and Gentile, during the German occupation. The class will follow a lecture/discussion format, with readings, the showing of extensive film sequences, and a guest speaker—a Holocaust survivor.

The course will finally examine the enduring legacy of Anne Frank and her diary.

Note: students are advised that during the course of this class they will be subjected to images of the Holocaust, which will be at times graphic and may be distinctly unsettling.

Anthony Anderson is the Assistant Director of Doheny Library and USC’s Holocaust Studies librarian. He has taught two other Freshman Seminars: “He Said, She Said, They Said: Making Sense of the Opinion Makers and Making Up You Own Mind” and “’Can’t We All Just Get Along?’-- Ethnic Conflicts in the World and the Media.”


The Art of the Comic Book: Graphic Narratives from Maus to Manga
William Feuer
Monday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34606

Over the last four decades the comic book has grown up.  Once a favorite target of critics, the graphic narrative now garners serious critical attention from literary scholars around the world.  They have recognized Alison Bechdel, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, Katsuhiro Otomo, Art Spiegelman, and Frank Miller as just a few of the new masters of the form.

In this seminar, we will explore the work of these artists as well as several other important contributors.  We will trace the evolution of the genre and develop our ability to interpret graphic narratives.  Students will produce a critical reading of a comic of their choice.  Working in small groups, they will also collaborate on a graphic story.

Bill Feuer received his Ph. D. in American Literature from the University of Southern California.  He has been teaching in the Writing Program for two decades and has picked up a couple of teaching awards along the way.  He has been reading comic books since he was thirty.


Body Politics
Robin Romans
Thursday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Section 34621

From politics and education to commerce and art, our culture is ambivalent and uncomfortable when it comes to how we think about, talk about and display our bodies.  Sometimes the body signifies unity and authority (body politic), truth and rationality (bodies of knowledge), wholeness and meaning (body of the text).  Other times it is portrayed as a site of sin, perverse desires, temptations, disease, decay and corruption, and itsappearance is seen as shameful, illicit, forbidden, dangerous, and subversive  In some contexts, the body helps make sense of the universe; in others its appearance is scandalous and threatens social order.

We will discuss the ways we hide the body; what happens to power and authority when the body appears in public; the different ways women and men dress; when sex sells and when it doesn’t; the division between private and public spheres of life, and much more.  We will trace cultural ideas about the body through seminal stories like Genesis, works by Plato and St. Augustine, and modern plays, poetry and various media.  And we will examine the world around us to draw out the body’s double nature as both sacred and profane.

Associate Provost Robin Romans oversees USC’s Arts and Humanities Initiative and the Visions and Voices program.  He also serves as the Provost’s liaison to USC Arts, a collaboration of USC’s six arts schools, and to the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, for which he wrote the original proposal.  Prior to joining the Office of the Provost, he directed USC’s prestigious Thematic Option Program.


Body Size and Shape: Fitness and Nutrition
Bob Girandola
Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34610

This class will look into the continuing national problem of weight control.  Obesity, which is controllable, is considered the second most prevalent disease.  Despite this, it has reached epidemic proportions in the USA as well as many other industrialized nations.  We will discuss the complexities of caloric balance and the appropriate methods for weight loss and gain.  Specific emphasis will be placed on young adults, such as college students who do not have the luxury of eating at home.  Appropriate dietary patterns for weight control as well as health will be analyzed.  Finally, appropriate exercise programs for maintaining body weight and shape will be discussed.

Students who enroll in this class should be prepared to become actively involved in class discussions.  Many of the myths and fallacies of weight control and nutrition will be revealed, so keep an open mind!  Students should have access to the internet in order to download some of the many materials that are advertised for weight control and obesity.

Robert Girandola received his undergraduate degree in physical education from Hunter College (New York) and his Ed.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in Exercise Physiology in 1970.  He has been at USC since 1973.  He teaches classes in Nutrition and Weight Control, Exercise Prescription, and The Science of Human Performance.  His research has centered on Obesity and Weight Control, Ergogenic Aids and Human Performance, Environmental Effects on Human Performance.


Developing a Portfolio for a Career in Medicine
Erin Quinn
Wednesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34616

Not all those who wander are lost: create your own path to medicine.

Considering a life career in the medical field? This course will introduce you to how everything human is related to medicine and how medicine is related to how we think about being human. Prepare to apply for medical school, but at the same time open up the possibilities for studying things that deeply interest you, while you’re an undergraduate.

Students will create a reflective portfolio and plan their studies and co-curricular interests, while learning about ethics, professionalism, politics, social determinants of health, and the opportunities at USC for preparing for a career in medicine.

Erin A. Quinn, Ph.D., M.Ed., is Associate Dean of Science and Health in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at USC.  Among other things, she served on the national committee that redesigned the MCAT examination for January, 2015.


Foundations of Self for Women of Color
Nohelani Lawrence
Tuesday, 5:30 – 7:20 p.m.
Section 34631

This course examines the complex experience of being a Black/African-American woman within collegiate athletics.  It addresses such topics as identity, Black feminism, Black/White sisterhood, social mobility, activism, sports, and media from a socio-historical perspective.  University and faculty mentors will be paired with freshman student as they explore African-African identity development, culture, academic rebranding, leadership, and redefining femininity.  Classes will include facilitator led lectures as well as guest speaker series with one-hour interactive presentations followed by facilitated discussions.  Special emphasis will be placed on the analysis of culture and its impact on the worldview and development of the student athlete.

Lani Lawrence received her Psy.D in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in sport psychology from the University of Denver.  She currently serves as Clinical Sport Psychologist with the Engemann Student Health Center and the USC Athletic Department.  Dr. Lawrence is a former professional basketball player and also previously coached on the collegiate level.


Interrogating Authenticity
Lanita Jacobs
Tuesday, 5:00 – 6:50 p.m.
Section 34625

“Keep it real.” “That’s real talk.” “Don’t be fake!” Most of us have heard these charges but what, pray tell, does it mean to “be real”? And why do folks, including perhaps ourselves, invest so much stake in questions of “realness” such that we wax judgmental about who’s “real” or who’s “fake”? What informs peoples’ moral investment in questions of sincerity, whether they concern racial, gendered, and sexual identities, specific TV/film scenes and performances, questions of love and happiness, or other matters? Who gets to judge what is “real” or “fake”? Why do questions of authenticity even matter in the first place? This seminar mines for answers in and across various Black literary, performative, and visual contexts, including urban comedy clubs, movies/films, theatre, music, and other spaces and places. Our investigations will reveal one certainty – that conversations about “realness” and “authenticity” often essentialize the subject(s) in question. We will not rest easy with this observation.  Our charge over the semester will be to explore both the hows and whys of authenticity.  As such, we will ask: Why, despite these risks, do public interrogations and personal convictions about the “real” stubbornly persist? To address this essential question, we will observe, listen, and read closely to deepen our understandings of racial authenticity and what some call the contemporary “quest for authenticity.” We will also gain a better understanding of the issues and stakes of “authenticity” through an analysis of everyday dialogues, performances, beliefs, and conflicts that implicate enduring questions of the “real.”


A Journey through Central Asia
Ayse Rorlich
Monday, 12:00 – 1:50 p.m.
Section 34601

The purpose of this seminar is to provide a framework for engaging in an intellectual journey aimed at achieving a better understanding of the cultural and political geography of Central Asia.  The demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991 resulted among others, in the emergence of five independent republics whose territories stretch across most of Central Asia – a crucial segment of the Silk Road.

Since 1991, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan have been addressing a variety of challenges as young nation states with voices of their own on the global political arena, as well as countries that are becoming more and more integrated into the global economy.  Our seminar conversations will introduce to us  today’s republics of Central Asia but, most importantly, will enable us to understand  contemporary Central Asian societies and states by identifying those  dimensions of their cultures and crucial turning points in their past that  have had an indelible impact on shaping their identities and historical paths.

Azade-Ayse Rorlich is Professor of Russian and Eurasian History and Slavic languages and Literatures.  She teaches in the History Department of Dornsife College of the University of Southern California.  She received the Social Sciences Division Distinguished Teaching Award in 1983 and the General Education Teaching Award in 2001.  Her research focuses on the study of the Muslims of the Russian empire with a particular emphasis on the investigation of the ways in which culture and religion interface and determine religious practice and identity construction.  She has conducted archival and library research in many cities of the former Soviet Union and has traveled extensively through the Russian Federation and Central Asia.


Legal Reasoning and Communication
James Brecher
Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34611

Lawyers think differently from “normal” people; their professional training enables lawyers to see all the diverse elements which compose a problem.  This type of advanced thinking is not only important for success in the legal profession but essential to success in a true liberal arts education.  This developed skill is the reason so many business and political leaders have legal training even if they never intend to practice law.

This course will look at the way lawyers examine issues and seek results.  We will apply these techniques to a range of problems, especially as their solutions relate to undergraduate problems.  We will accomplish this examination by looking at legal commentaries, stories and essays, and case law and learning the practical thinking of everyday lawyers and how they communicate with differing audiences.

James Brecher, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Teaching Professor in The Writing Program at the University of Southern California and has practiced law, worked in the business world, and taught English and American Studies/Humanities at the University of South Florida.   He was awarded the USC College Outstanding Teaching Award in Advanced Writing and was named one of USC’s “best professors” in the September 2007 issue of Saturday Night Magazine.


Musical Subcultures of the Sixties
William Biersach
Wednesday, 4:00 – 5:50 p.m.
Section 34629

During the sixties, due to circumstances within the music industry peculiar to the time, various popular musical styles developed which expressed the social, cultural, religious, political and sexual changes in our society.  While the music of this period survives today and enjoys considerable popularity, much of the meaning behind it has been lost because the context has largely been forgotten.

In this seminar, students will pair off to do research projects involving various aspects of the sixties and how they found musical expression.  Together we will sift through the lyrics, musical styles, facts, tall tales, and contrived myths surrounding various influential people, events, and movements.  We shall read the uncensored thoughts of David Crosby, Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Bill Wyman, John Lennon, and others.  In so doing we will try to arrive at an understanding of what was really going on in the music business, the drug scene, the pop culture, political and social trends, and the minds of the youth during those turbulent years.

William L. Biersach has been teaching electro-acoustic media and recording technology in the Thornton School of Music since 1975.  His class, The Beatles: Their Music and Their Times was voted one of the top ten courses at USC by Student Affairs.  In 1997 he received the USC Gamma Sigma Alpha Professor of the Year Award.  As a studio musician and synthesizer programmer he composed the score for the Japanese cartoon series, Dan Cougar, and the musical theme for the USC Campaign for Leadership into the 21st Century.  His courses on the Beatles and Classic Rock have attracted the attention of Rolling Stone Magazine, CNN and Prime Time Live.


Poetry, Breath and Meditation
Susan McCabe
Wednesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34614

“Can you tell the dancer from the dance,” Yeats famously questioned.  “Breathe-in experience / Breath-out poetry,” Muriel Rukeyser begins a poem about childhood.

Breath and embodied experience and their relationship to poetry will be the main focus of this seminar.  Each week we will focus on one to several poems, linked to short readings on meditation and poetics.  Neuroscience has demonstrated how poetry, with its ancient link to rhythm and incantation, can literally rewire the brain.  How do line-breaks and line lengths, word and sonic choices create mood, sensation and emotion as well as ideas?  What are the different effects poetic forms create, from the short haiku to the longer sonnet?  We will explore through in-class writing and meditation exercises (with some brief outdoor movement) how poetry paradoxically can both still the mind and reveal flux and impermanence. 

Over the course of the class, you will write several poems and share them in small groups—as well as with the class as a whole; you will also write short one-page responses to poems.  Students are required to attend every session, to participate and to write in-class. No experience in poetry or meditation is required.

Professor Susan McCabe is a Professor of English in the Creative Writing & Literature Program.  She writes both literary criticism and poetry.


Practical Humanities and the Art of Medicine
Pamela Schaff and Erika Wright
Monday, 5:00 – 6:50 p.m.
Section 34624

In his 1951 address, Dr. Herbert McLean Evans challenged medical students to cross the divide between the sciences and the humanities, to recognize that poetry and medicine are of a piece. Over sixty years later, we are still building that bridge, making those connections, and correcting what Antonio Damasio refers to as “Descartes’ Error,” the fatal assumption that emotion and reason are incommensurable. This seminar invites students from all disciplines to consider the importance of artistic expression and literary study to the practice of the healing arts, and to see that the so-called “rift” is of our own making, an unnecessary fiction that has been as damaging to clinicians as it has been to patient care. Medicine and the humanities have always been connected, at times explicitly so, through their focus on the human condition and on the intricate relationship between the human mind and body. Whether we write poetry, diagnose illness, or do both, we are continually shaping and reflecting the stories that define who we are, always asking: What does it mean to be human? To sympathize with or understand the lived experience of others? And what is my responsibility to those around me and to their stories?

We will read a range of fictional and non-fictional works that intervene in the ethical debates surrounding medical protocols and education. Discussion of physician and patient narratives will frame our consideration of the complementary nature of logicoscientific and narrative knowledge in healthcare.

Pamela Schaff, M.D., a pediatrician, is Associate Dean for Curriculum and Director of the Program in Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics at KSOM. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at USC.

Erika Wright has her Ph.D. in English from USC. She has taught courses in Thematic Option, The Writing Program, and the English Department and currently holds a position as Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine.


The Practical Uses of Monsters
Hugh McHarg
Thursday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34622

Game of Thrones’ White Walkers have crept through five novels and four seasons of the HBO series, yet their purpose and significance remain obscure. A half human-half bat sold supermarket tabloids for 15 years. And media routinely describe crimes and criminals as “monstrous.” What is the essence of such monsters? What do they mean? Who benefits and who suffers from their making? How might a reader understand a monster that is as much a creature of culture or politics as it is of horror or whimsy?

Each week in this seminar, we will approach a manifestation of the monstrous, including those represented in the USC Libraries’ rarest materials—among them the 1642 Monstrorum Historia and drawings by David Rose, courtroom illustrator of the Hillside Strangler’s prosecution. Students will compose creative and interpretive responses, and we will work together to incorporate students’ written work into the USC Libraries’ year-long What Makes a Monster? exhibition program and event series. As a final project, students will draw upon their insights to propose and curate a related program for spring 2015.

As associate dean for planning and communication, Hugh McHarg directs academic and public programming for USC Libraries, as well as international partnerships and activities as host institution for the L.A. as Subject research alliance. He holds an MFA from Brown University.


Producing Live Entertainment: A Look Behind the Curtain
Jeff Flowers
Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34612

Before the audience is seated, before the performers have taken the stage, a collaboration of imagination, ingenuity and technology--not to mention a little luck--must meticulously be integrated into the production that will be the evening’s performance. This seminar will take a look “behind-the-scenes,” exploring various fundamental aspects of some of today’s most popular live productions.

From inception of the original concept, to management of the production segments, to the onstage “magic” of the spectacle itself, the class will break down and explore the various components that go into creating a live presentation.  The class will construct a conceptual production, be it theatre, dance, concert or other live performance, based on an application of the discoveries found within course.

Jeff Flowers, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Dramatic Arts (SDA), holds BFA and MFA degrees in Theatrical Design.  Jeff has been in the theatre business for over 30 years, filling many ”behind-the-curtain” positions during the course of his career, designing and managing numerous stage productions and live entertainment projects.


Puzzles, Patterns, Games and Illusions
Solomon Golomb
Tuesday, 3:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Section 34626

This Freshman Seminar will deal with intuitive and recreational aspects of geometry, without the complex calculations or intricate proving of theorems from axioms so typical of mathematics courses.  The seminar is intended for students interested in shapes, designs, and patterns, and no background in mathematics, science, or engineering is assumed or required. Students who enroll will be expected to attend regularly, and participate in course activities.

Solomon W. Golomb spent six and a half years at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he conducted and supervised research in Space Communications, before joining the USC faculty full-time in Spring 1963.  He is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, and holds the title of Distinguished University Professor.   He is an elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  At USC, he served as President of the Faculty Senate and as Vice Provost for Research.

In addition to some 200 technical journal articles on mathematics, engineering, and related topics, one of his four books currently in print is Polyominoes, subtitled, Puzzles, Patterns, Problems, and Packings.  He has had a lifelong interest in games and puzzles, and has written regular puzzle columns for a number of newspapers and magazines.  In February 2013, he received the National Medal of Science from President Obama.


Science, Technology and Society
John Brooks Slaughter
Wednesday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34615

Science and technology are ubiquitous and integral facets of the human experience.  They invariably have the power to affect society, but what the effect may be is often unexpected.  Nuclear reactors provide cleaner energy then fossil fuels, but can cause radiation leaks and untold destruction.  Advances in bio-medicine could have dangerous effects if mishandled.  Public concerns about safety have deferred the use of genetically modified foods and offshore oil drilling.

This Freshman Seminar is designed to explore the inter-dependencies that exist among science, technology and society.  Students will have the opportunity to identify and diagnose the complex relationships that characterize the co-existence and co-dependencies of these three entities and the influences that each has on the others.  We will examine the directions of today’s scientific and technological pursuits and discuss the risks inherent in those research and development efforts.  In the process, students will discover the connections between the scientific activities of a society and its economics, culture, politics, and educational status.  We will discuss the ways in which societies support and invest in science and technology.

John Brooks Slaughter is Professor of Education and Engineering with appointments in the Rossier School of Education, Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.  He has been the Director of the National Science Foundation and president of both the University of Maryland and Occidental College.  His current research and teaching interests include issues of academic leadership, diversity, and the history of technology.


The Space Shuttle and Popular Science
Ken Phillips
Thursday, 3:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Section 34628

This course takes students on a 50-year journey of discovery that begins at the start of the space program and ends with the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour and the completion of the International Space Station. America’s Space Shuttle has been described as the most complex machine ever built. Operating over a period of 30 years, the space shuttle program served as a bridge between the early days of spaceflight and permanent human presence in space. It is ultimately a product of human curiosity, intellectual pursuit, fierce competition between rival nations and, international cooperation in space exploration. Over a period of 11 weeks students will discover the science behind the Shuttle and explore the intellectual drive that leads interdisciplinary teams on their continuing quest to overcome the hurdles to human space exploration.

The course instructor, Ken Phillips, has served for 24 years as Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center with responsibility for the development of exhibits on aeronautics and space exploration.


Technology and Environment
Najmedin Meshkati
Monday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34605

One of the most serious existential crises facing humanity deals with climate change and global warming vis-à-vis energy.  This crisis will have drastic social, economic, political and technological implications for the world.  Developing and implementing a systematic response is probably the most important challenge facing our generation; as the influential New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has suggested in one of his seminal writings, “The Power of Green,”  “Green has to become part of America’s DNA.  We’re getting there.  Green has hit Main Street — it’s now more than a hobby — but it’s still less than a new way of life . . . Living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century.”

It has been said that a paradox of our time is “the mixed blessing of almost every technological development.”  The relationships between technology and the environment are also paradoxical, complex and multifaceted.  Technology could be regarded as the source of many environmental problems, but at the same time, it is only through further technological development that solutions to these problems can be found.  Furthermore, technology is a major building block of the two pillars of environmental conservation and restoration: pollution prevention and waste management.  Two recent major cases will also be studied: the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig accident in April 2010 that killed 11, seriously injured 16, and the oil flow continued for nearly 3 months, during which, nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico; and the Fukushima nuclear accident in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 in Japan which has caused serious environmental pollution and contamination due to  radiation release from the stricken Daiichi plant.  In addition to the above topics, we will also discuss the role and activities of major national and international entities in the technology and environment arena such as the United Nations, its specialized agencies (e.g., UNEP) as well as the World Bank.

Najmedin Meshkati is a Professor of Civil/Environmental Engineering; Industrial & Systems Engineering; and International Relations at the USC.  He was a Jefferson Science Fellow and a Senior Science and Engineering Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, US State Department, Washington, DC (2009-2010).  

What Are Earthquakes and Tsunamis All About?
Henry Koffman
Monday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34607

The University of Southern California is one of the world's leading earthquake and tsunami research centers.  Virtually every region of the planet experiences earthquakes at one time or another, but California experiences them frequently.  When earthquakes occur in major metropolitan areas, the effects can be dramatic.  San Francisco is still recovering from the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, and Los Angeles will be responding to the effects of the January 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake for years to come.  Earthquakes have become an everyday occurrence throughout the world.

Our class will trace the history of earthquakes, examine the mechanics of geological faults, and try to understand the emergency and public safety measures taken to cope with earthquakes both before and after the fact.  We will study the nature of the forces released, how these forces impact the environment, how these forces are measured, and how structural and foundation designs are intended to respond to earthquake forces.  We will summarize the current state of earthquake research.  The class will take field trips to local facilities and affected sites.  We will also research historical and recent tsunamis.

Professor Henry M. Koffman, P.E., is the Director of the Construction Engineering and Management Program in the Viterbi School of Engineering's Civil Engineering Department.  He is a real estate land developer, licensed building contractor, and a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California.


Who are the Israelis?
Bruce Phillips
, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34608

As is evident in the coverage of the current Gaza crisis the media speaks of Israel as a monolithic entity locked in perpetual struggle with the Palestinians. In fact, Israel is arguably the most culturally and ethnically diverse society in the Middle East (and possibly beyond). Some of the tensions within Israeli society dwarf the Israel/Palestine conflict.

In this seminar, students will learn about the various groups that make-up Israeli society including European Jews, Jews from Arab lands, Jews from Africa, non-Jewish Israelis, ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular Jews. Using literature and film as well as written materials, we probe competing visions for Israel such as a Jewish state vs. a democratic state, the place of Arab minorities in Israeli society, and the future of a region called “the occupied territories/Greater Israel/West Bank/Judaea and Samaria.”

Bruce A. Phillips has been teaching Judaic studies, religion, American studies, Middle East Studies, and sociology at USC since 1982. He has a PhD in sociology from UCLA and has been nominated twice for teaching awards at USC.


(W)rites of Passage
Susan Harris
Thursday, 4:00 – 5:50 p.m.
Section 34630

This Freshman Seminar will explore the rites of passage that mark the transition from high school to college.  The course will offer a space for students to reflect on who they are, where they come from, and where they are headed—and the role of higher education in shaping this dynamic process.  Completing a service-learning assignment through the Joint Educational Project (JEP) has become a kind of rite of passage for thousands of USC students.  All students in the course will become JEP mentors for college-bound high school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District who participate in USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI).

As suggested by the course title, writing will play a primary role in the course.  We will work together with NAI teachers and administrators to guide high school seniors as they draft their college application essays.  In addition, the FSEM students will write reflective essays that investigate the roots of the self, critically examining how race, class, gender, education, and other social forces create and constrain individual opportunities.  The USC freshmen will help to orient the high school seniors to college life, sharing their own experiences as new college students.

Susan Harris is the Associate Director for Research and Academic Affairs at JEP.  She designs and implements service-learning projects that are mutually beneficial for the campus and the community.  A sociologist by training, Susan enjoys working with students from a wide range of academic disciplines.


Writing to be Read
Richard Fliegel
Thursday, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Section 34619

"No one but a blockhead ever wrote except for money," said Samuel Johnson, but that's not the end of the story.  There is after all a reader or an audience, expecting something.  This is a seminar for writers or for people who are trying to be.  We will focus on the question, "How does it change what I write when I'm determined to affect my readers?"  Writing to express yourself accurately is hard, but it's like falling off a log compared to writing things that succeed in stirring other people's emotions.

Students will be expected to read other writers' work in several genres and to share with the class what they themselves have written, sometimes on the spot.  We promise not to laugh unless it's funny -- and if that isn't scary, the devil knows what is.

Richard Fliegel is the Director of the Freshman Seminar program and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in USC Dornsife College.  He has published detective novels and tried his hand at some other forms, from poetry to episodic television.