The following course description belongs to Professor Gustafson.
This course will not focus on America and the "New Millenium". Instead, it will examine the foundations of the United States and American culture in such actions as exploration, conquest, revolution, consitution-making, pioneering, and immigration, with particular attention paid to the revisionary history prompted in part by the Bicentennial of the Constitution in 1987, the Quincentennial of Columbus' "discovery" of American in 1992, and the Centennial in 1993 of Frederick Jackson Turner's essay, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History." As an introductory course for the American Studies major, this course will also practice and preach interdisciplinary study: it will draw upon various modes of inquiry including, especially, literary, historical, and political analysis.
This course will begin by juxtaposing the legacy of the three sets of founders: (1) those who invented and settled in the United States through the words of the Declaration and the Constitution (backed by force), (2) those who settled the country by deeds of adventurism, violence, community building, corporate enterprise, and political intervention (backed by myths, dreams, and political rhetoric), and (3) those who sought to oppose, resist, or revise the words, deeds and legacies of the founding fathers and pioneers of the West (often by upholding the same principles or ideals). Some of the most powerful myths about America that this course will examine in the second part of the West was a "virgen land" and that our wilderness was tamed by the heroic courage of pioneers and lonesome cowboys (a myth that denies how the settlement of the West has been aided and abetted by the policies and acts of the federal government). The couse will then turn in its third part to a study of the relationship between American public life and the mythology of the frontier as it considers the connection between two of America's most potent dream factories -- Hollywood and Washinton D.C. -- in the media age. This section concludes with a study of the symbolic and institutional policies of two presidents who claimed a special relationship to the frontier: John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
In the fourth and final part, we will consider how the West, and contemporary Los Angeles, in particular, can serve as a laboratory for investigating how governments at all levels and the American people themselves are responding to the problems and challenges the United States at the close of the 20th century. This is a city confronting -- indeed colliding with -- the crisis of modern America: environmental threats, racial and ethnic friction, urban violence, and the strains associated with American unprootedness, mobility, and materialsm. Given the location of USC, we will also be alert, too, to how Hollywood -- our dream factory -- has manufactured an image of the West.
ART HISTORY 121g
Art and Society: Renaissance to Modern
TTh, 11:00 - 12:20
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.
ART HISTORY 201g
Digging into the Past: Material Culture and the Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean
MW, 2:00 - 3:20
This broad survey course, which covers approximately 8,000 years of human prehistory and history, focuses on the cultural pillar of western civilization -- the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome -- and on the role of cultural diffusion in the ancient world. In addition to the various civilizations and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean area, this course examines how the products of material culture (artifacts, works of art, architecture, and urban planning) relate to the written record. Important original ancient literary and historical documents will be read and discussed in their relationship to the monuments.
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).
Professor Van Bladel
MWF, 12:00 - 12:50
The following course description belongs to Professor Burns.
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.
An electronic version of the syllabus is available online at www.usc.edu/college/classics/syllabi.
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE 150xg
Origins of Western Literature and Culture
MW, 2:00 - 3:20
In 2005, how can we approach western literature and culture from a more global perspective? COLT 150xg answers this question by exploring the ways power (economic, political, military and ideological) influences the nature of community and the individual. Literary texts and a few philosophical and political texts will guide us as we develop a sociocultural “power model” that originates in Mesopotamia, undergoes transformations into Aegean (Greek), Mediterranean (Roman), and Northern European variants, and is finally transplanted to the New World.
Authors we’ll read include Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Virgil, the Bible, Dante, de Pisan, Chaucer, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Columbus, Shakespeare and Cervantes. Themes we’ll emphasize include: (1) the hero in city-state and empire; (2) divinity and community; (3) spiritual transformations of the self in Greek philosophy and Christianity; (4) storytelling, authority and medieval community; (5) colonialism and colonial discourse.
MWF, 11:00 - 11:50
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.
Europe and Its Influence Since 1750: From the Rise of Democracy to the Age of Extremes
TTh, 11:00 - 12:20
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, 12:00 - 1:50
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.
JUDAIC STUDIES 100g
MW, 2:00 - 3:20
This course is an introduction to the major trends and themes of Jewish history as well as literary and cultural creations of the Jewish people from their beginnings in the ancient Near East through the biblical, classical, and early rabbinic periods. Special emphasis will be placed on ideas and concepts that evolved among the Jews and that have impacted Western civilization, as well as the way in which Jews have interacted with the peoples and cultures among whom they have lived. The tension between "tradition" and "change" will be traced from the beginnings of Jewish civilization in the ancient Near East through the periods discussed. Through this course you will examine the origins of the religious experience as it has been realized in the West. You will study patterns of thinking that have impacted the meaning of what it is to be human, and you will learn how Judaism evolved out of its Near Eastern context and established the patterns and paradigms of Western religion and religious thought.
Ancient Greek Culture and Society
TTh, 11:00 - 12:20
Please contact the Philosophy department for course description.
Mind and Self: Modern Conceptions
TTh, 2:00 - 3:20
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?
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.
The World of the New Testament
MWF, 11:00 - 11:50
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.