Thematic Approaches to Humanities and Societies gave me the freedom to critically examine a field that I found personally fascinating without pigeonholing me into a specific department. On the contrary, it encouraged me to explore many departments in Dornsife to learn more through diverse, exciting lenses of inquiry.
-Terek Rutherford ’19

Have you been looking for a minor in the humanities and social sciences, but your interests are too wide-ranging to fit within one specific field? Do you want to study themes that cross the boundaries of different departments? The Thematic Approaches to Humanities and Society minor empowers you to explore ideas across disciplines. With our flexible course list, you can identify a theme—or themes—and follow that thread through a range of USC Dornsife humanities and social science departments. In the past, students have investigated social justice, revolutionary literature, human and animal rights, ecophilosophy, diversity of the human experience, and more. The path you uncover as you move through the minor will be your own.

At the heart of the minor are two CORE classes: CORE 200 and CORE 301. These courses take an interdisciplinary, discussion-based approach to sharing ideas and examining cultural themes. The list of electives that round out the minor is broad and customizable, and some courses may overlap with General Education or major requirements.

If you find humanities or social science courses that interest you but do not appear on the minor list, our flexible curriculum often allows for substitutions. This makes the Thematic Approaches minor pair well with overseas study, as students are often able to count courses taken abroad toward the minor.

There is no application process for the Thematic Approaches to Humanities and Society minor, and it is open to students of all majors. To declare the minor, contact Dornsife Honors Programs at 213-740-2955 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.


Minor Requirements (26 units):

CORE 200: Liberal Arts Reading Salon (2 units)

The salon encourages sharing interdisciplinary ideas and highlights common themes and connections as they emerge from student discussion. CORE 200 meets once each week in a seminar setting for twelve weeks and is graded Credit/No Credit. Past topics include Down the Rabbit Hole: Other Histories, Other WorldsMad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know: Reading Banned Books; and Retro Sci-Fi and the Steampunk Aesthetic.

CORE 301: Modes of Inquiry (4 units)

This course examines the modern tools of cultural analysis. It explores varying modes of scholarly investigation and seeks to demystify what we consider natural in the formation of culture, institutions, and individuals. Past topics include The Perils of Common Sense and Sex, Church, and State.

Lower Division Requirement (4 units):

Choose one course.

  • CLAS 150g The Greeks and the West
  • CLAS 151g Civilization of Rome
  • COLT 150g Origins of Western Literature and Culture
  • CORE 102 Culture and Values
  • HIST 102g Medieval Civilization
  • PHIL 115g Ancient Greek Culture and Society
  • REL 132g Religions of the West

Upper Division Requirements* (16 units):

Choose four courses. You must take at least one from list A, at least one from list B, and no more than one from list C. No more than two courses may come from any one department.



  • CLAS 310 Pagans and Christians
  • CLAS 320 Diversity and the Classical Western Tradition
  • CLAS 333 Cult and City in Ancient Greece
  • CLAS 470 Democracies Ancient and Modern
  • COLT 320m Epic and Society in Medieval Europe
  • EALC 340 Japanese Civilization
  • EALC 345 Korean Civilization
  • EALC 350 Chinese Civilization
  • EALC 355 Studies in Chinese Thought
  • EALC 365 Studies in Japanese Thought
  • ITAL 350 Italian Renaissance Literature in Translation
  • PHIL 345 Greek Ethics
  • REL 311 The Bible in Western Literature
  • REL 315 Thought and Life of Islam
  • REL 317 Ancient Near Eastern Myth and Literature


  • COLT 426 Utopias
  • COLT 445m Eurocentrism
  • EALC 332 Korean Literature in Translation
  • EALC 335 Literature of the Korean People
  • EALC 342 Japanese Literature and Culture
  • EALC 352 Chinese Literature and Culture
  • EALC 354 Modern Chinese Literature in Translation
  • FREN 380 Existentialism in French Literature
  • FREN 446 Contemporary French Thought
  • GERM 370 Literature and Culture in Vienna at the turn of the Century
  • GERM 372 Literature and Culture in Berlin of the 1920s
  • PHIL 337 History of Modern Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 355 Existentialism
  • PHIL 437 Social and Political Philosophy
  • REL 340 Western Religious Thought
  • SLL 330 Russian Thought and Civilization
  • SLL 344 Tolstoy: Writer and Moralist


Humanities and Society:

  • COLT 448 Transcultural Representations
  • COLT 475 Politics and the Novel
  • ENGL 473 Literature and Society
  • ENGL 474m Literature, Nationality and Otherness
  • FREN 370m Equality and Difference around the Enlightenment
  • ITAL 340 Italian Literature from Unification to Fascism
  • REL 366 Religion and Social Change
  • REL 462 Religion and Violence
  • SLL 345 Literature and Philosophy: Dostoevsky
  • SLL 348 Nabokov’s Novels: Art and Exile

Critical Approaches:

  • CLAS 380 Approaches to Myth
  • COLT 391 Seminar in Literary Criticism
  • COLT 401 Senior Seminar on a Comparative Literary Topic
  • COLT 454 Aesthetic Philosophy and Theory
  • ENGL 472 Literature and Related Arts
  • ENGL 479 History of Literary Criticism
  • ENGL 480 Modern Literary Criticism: Theory and Practice
  • LING 466 Word and Phrase Origins
  • PHIL 347 Philosophy in Literature
  • PHIL 361 Philosophy of Religion
  • PHIL 445 Philosophy of the Arts


Social Science Approaches:

  • ANTH 372 Interpretation of Myth and Narrative
  • GEOG 325 Culture and Place
  • HIST 300 Approaches to History
  • HIST 329 Madness and Society in the Modern Age
  • IR 325 Rich and Poor States in the World Political Economy
  • POSC 381 Sex, Power, and Politics
  • POSC 476 Contemporary Political Thought
  • SOCI 350 Deviant Behavior
  • SOCI 360 Social Inequality: Class, Status, and Power

*It may be possible to substitute courses from lists A, B, and C with other upper division courses from Dornsife humanities and social science departments, or with courses taken during overseas study. Contact a minor advisor for more information.