An introduction to the social, cultural and political circumstances in which works of art were and continue to be produced and understood. We will explore not only how material objects were shaped by the societies in which they were made but also how art contributed to the formation of social identities. While emphasis will be placed on grasping the diversity of European and American painting, sculpture and architecture from roughly the 15th-century to the present, we will explore the foundational mythologies and resilient continuities of a cultural tradition faced with radical historical transformations.
The Greeks and the West
TTh, 12:30 - 1:50
The following course description belongs to Professor Farenga.
The goals of this course are: (1) To survey the Greeks' cultural achievements in government, warfare, science and philosophy, literature and drama, art and architecture; (2) To understand how their achievements serve as positive and negative models for realizing the goals of modern and postmodern western societies (e.g., democratic community; social justice; gender and racial equality; multiculturalism); (3) To learn to read and write about complex texts (epic, lyric,philosophy, tragedy, history) as explorations of the problems both the Greeks and we face in realizing these goals in communal and personal life. This course addresses: (1) The changing nature of community, authority and justice; (2) The changing nature of membership and participation in community (relations between citizens and non-citizens, including women, foreigners and slaves);and (3) The changing conceptions of individuality (self).
Structure: Class lecture, discussion and readings are based on (1) a chronological survey of types of state and non-state community in Greece 1400 - 200 BC; (2) analysis of material (archaeological, artistic) and documentary (written) evidence from Bronze & Dark Ages; archaic, classical, hellenistic periods.
Readings and Assignments
• Homer. Iliad [selections];
• early lyric poets and philosophers [selections]
• Aeschylus. Oresteia.
• Sophocles. Antigone.
• Herodotus. History of the Persian Invasion [selections]
• Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War [selections]
• Plato. Republic [selections]
• Apollonius. Argonautika (Jason and the Golden Fleece) [selections]
• N. Demand. A History of Ancient Greece (textbook)
• 2 essays, 7pp. each (non-research)
• midterm and final exam (short answers and essay questions)
• quiz (short answers)
• 2 essays (30%)
• midterm (25%)
• final (30%)
• quiz (15%)
MWF, 12:00 - 12:50
This course will introduce students to the myths of ancient Greece stories about gods, heroes, and monsters that people used to explain their relationship to the world around them. We will concentrate on the ideological messages they transmitted in original social, religious, and artistic contexts, but we will also examine the role of Greek myths in contemporary society. Because literature provides us with the fullest accounts of these narratives, we will read key texts of the classical literary tradition, including the Homeric epics and Athenian tragedies. These textual portrayals of divinities and ancestors will be supplemented by visual representations and artifacts preserved in the archaeological record.
• Classical Myth, 4th edition. Barry B. Powell, bundled together with
• The Iliad/the Odyssey. Robert Fagles, trans. (ISBN: 0131177494)
• Aeschylus: The Oresteia. Ted Hughes, trans. (ISBN: 0374527059)
• Hesiod's Theogony. Richard S. Caldwell, trans. (ISBN: 0941051005)
• The Homeric Hymns. Thelma Sargent, trans. (ISBN: 039300788X)
• Women on the Edge: Four Plays by Euripides. Mary-Kay Gamel, Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, Bella Zweig, Ruby Blondell, trans. (ISBN: 0415907748)
An electronic version of the syllabus is available online at www.usc.edu/college/classics/syllabi.
Diversity and the Classical Western Tradition
TTh, 2:00 - 3:20
The goal of the course is to understand the historical context from which contemporary discussions of diversity have emerged. How have past ideas and experiences shaped the way contemporary society views issues of race, ethnicity, gender and class? What do the past experiences of the West have to teach us about better ways to approach such questions today? Since the course fulfills the diversity requirement as well as the general education requirement in cultures and civilizations, students must be prepared for open and challenging discussion of sensitive issues. We study chiefly works of literature and the mythic patterns that recur in them. We consider the continuing tension between tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Western society, their representation in literature and culture and their relationship to issues of diversity. We also examine cultural myths as strategies of both inclusion and exclusion.
• Sophocles, Antigone
• Plato, Republic (selections)
• Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
• Melville, Benito Cereno
• Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight Los Angeles 1992
• Rigoberta Menchú, I Rigoberta Menchú
• plus selected analytical writings
• 2 short papers, one on a historical/literary topic, one on a contemporary issue
• one hour exam and one final, both emphasizing the readings and lectures occasional short worksheets for discussion sections
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE 374gm
Women Writers in Europe and America
TTh, 9:30 - 10:50
Please contact the Comparative Literature department for the course description.
MW, 10:00 - 11:50
The following course description belongs to Professor Knoll.
The beginning of this course will focus upon the Greco-Roman tradition, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the problem of western cultural singularity. These elements will help define the conceptual framework for the class. Do not mistake this apparent "background" as the equivalent of academic "clearing the throat." As we will see, the medieval period was in some important ways indebted with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Together these things, along with the actual experience of people in the centuries between about A.D. 300 and A.D.1450, helped establish -- in the words of Francis Oakley -- the "cultural singularity" of the European tradition. It is an assumption of this course that this tradition has meaning, relevancy, and significance for our understanding of the contemporary world in which we live.
• 5 Short Essays (5% each): 25%
• Discussion Group: 15%
• 2 Midterm Exams *(15% each): 30%
• Final Exam (Comprehensive): 30%
Europe and Its Influence Since 1750: From the Rise of Democracy to the Age of Extremes
TTh, 8:00 - 9:20
The following course description belongs to Professor Lerner.
In this course we explore selected themes in the history of modern Europe, a period inaugurated by the philosophical innovations of the Enlightenment, the political achievements of the French Revolution and the economic and social consequences of industrialization.
The first part of the course covers what historians often call the "long nineteenth century", the period between the French Revolution and the First World War. In this section we will be chiefly concerned with the development and dissemination of the major nineteenth-century ideologies: Liberalism, Socialism, Nationalism and Imperialism, as the lands of Europe were consolidated into nation-states with modern political and economic systems. The second half of the course asks how the nineteenth-century's vision of progress led to a twentieth century marked by global wars, genocide, Fascism and dictatorship. Key themes we will stress include: the role of minorities and women in European society; changing ideas of national identity and citizenship; the divisions between Eastern and Western Europe; the idea of European unity and Europe's shifting place in the world. One course goal is to understand the roots of current political, social and economic values -- and problems -- in Europe's tumultuous past.
Readings and Assignments: Students taking this course are required to enroll in one weekly discussion section. Readings consist largely of primary source material, such as novels, documents and political tracts. These sources are supplemented by a textbook.
The American Experience
MW, 8:30 - 9:50
The following course description belongs to Professor Seip.
HIST 2OOg explores American history and culture from pre-European contact native civilizations to the nation's present dimensions as a modem pluralistic society. The factual, interpretative, and analytic emphases given to key episodes, personalities, ideas, culture, and social forces in the life of the nation are designed as a foundation for further study. At base we hope to provide students with a useful perspective on the nation's complex and rich past--a central feature of any solid liberal arts education, and, with the family history project, a historical perspective on each student's personal past. Students are required to enroll in a weekly discussion section led by a teaching assistant.
The class explores the ways in which the patterns of civilizations associated with the Greco--Roman and European traditions have been and are constantly reflected and reshaped in North America (and exported back to Europe and the world). We examine, for example, the Judaic and Christian religions, liberty and enslavement, republicanism and democracy, scientific thought, technological advance, industrialization and mass consumption, mass education and popular culture, secularization, and the like--as well as emergence of increasingly diverse immigration patterns and multiculturalism which continue to shape American society and culture in ways outside the European tradition.
Three essay examinations (15%, 20%, and 25% of final grade); participation in weekly discussion sections (20%); and the family history project (20%). Extra credit for participation in the Joint Educational Project (JEP) is available.
Note: The readings and assignments list may be subject to change. Please contact the department for verification.
JUDAIC STUDIES 100g
TTh, 2:00 - 3:20
The following course description belongs to Professor Kaufman.
An introductory survey of "Jewish History" -- referring both to the historical experience of the Jewish people, and to the modern enterprise of constructing a historical narrative. Originating in the ancient Near East over 3,000 years ago, Jews have since spread throughout the world, establishing centers in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Often living as a minority and sometimes persecuted for their difference, Jews nonetheless have survived as an identifiable group, maintaining an ongoing religious tradition (Judaism) and evolving social and communal norms; while at the same time developing a multiplicity of cultural expressions. In the modern world, Jews have experienced both the devastation of genocide (the Holocaust) and the rebirth of their national existence (Israel). THis course will chart the complex narrative(s) of Jewish history and examine its characteristic tensions such as those between change and continuitiy, unity and diversity, homeland and dispersion, prosperity and oppression, etc.
The course has three principles goals:
- CONTEXT -- Placing hte Jewish experience into the context of world history, highlighting hte mutual influences of Judaism and Western civilization.
- CONTACT -- Examining the social, political, and religious relationships of Jews with non-Jews -- as an archetypal case in teh history of group relations. From the ancient encounter of Jewish monotheists with pagan polytheists emerged two world relgions, Christianity and Islam. The origins and consequences of historical "antisemitism" (hatred of Jews) will be addressed here as well.
- CULTURE -- Taking a comprehensive and multidisciplinary look at Jewish religion, culture, and history -- in order to understand Jews and Judaism as distinctive phenomena.
Mind and Self: Modern Conceptions
TTh, 2:00 - 3:15
The following course description belongs to Professor Yaffe.
In this course we will examine three great philosophical problems and some of the best efforts to solve them. The first is the problem of free will. What is it to have a free will? Are our wills free? Is it possible to be free given the power of science to predict and explain behavior? From here we will move on to consider the philosophical issues raised by death. Is death a bad thing? Most people think it usually is. But why? After all, it doesn't hurt to be dead. And finally, we will consider the problem of personal identity. What connects the seperate parts of a person's life? What is it about a person that establishes who he or she is and distinguishes him or her from others?
- Short paper (approx. 1000 words): 10%
- Long paper (approx. 2500 words): 30%
- Midterm Exam: 20%
- Final Exam: 40%
The World of the Hebrew Bible
TTh, 11:00 - 12:20
The aim of this course is to give a comprehensive introduction to the Hebrew Bible, concentrating on the most central theological issues in all three subdivisions of the scriptures: the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings. While we shall closely consider what the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament can contribute to our knowledge of history of the Ancient Near East, and also consider the literary aspects of the individual biblical texts, neither the "Bible as History" nor the "Bible as Literature" will be the central focus in this course. Rather, we will focus upon the Bible as a religious document out of which emerged those basic theological concepts that decisively shaped western civilization. Our particular concern will therefore be biblical ideas about the nature of God, the relationship of the Deity to mankind, and the overall human condition.
* Weekly Quizzes: 15%
* Midterm Exam: 15%
* Final Exam: 30%
* 1 Short Paper: 10%
* 1 Term Paper: 30%
The World of the New Testament
TTh, 12:30 - 1:50
The aim of this course is to explore the beginnings of the Christian religion in first century Palestine and to trace its initial developments as it spread throughout the Roman Empire during that and the next three centuries. These centuries witnessed both the events depicted in the writings that make up the New Testament, the formation of the New Testament itself, and the mergence of Christianity as the dominant religion of Western culture.
To give students a first-hand grasp of the world of the New Testament, a wide variety of primary sources is assisgned so that students can reconstruct for themselves the social, intellectual, and religious worlds within which the early Christians lived and so allow students to understand the earliest Christian writings attention will be given to the ways Christianity adapted the conventions of thought and behavior of the Mediterranean cultures and civilizations they inhabited and, by the fourth century, came to dominate.