Spring 2015 CLAS Courses

Interested in taking a course through the Department of Classics and/or fulfilling a GE I requirement? Go ahead and look below!



ZYGO Series—DOCTORS VS. PARENTS: Decision-making in Pediatrics

Friday, November 21, 2014, Doheny Memorial Library 241 | 12:30-1:30 PM | Lunch Provided
RSVP: http://bit.ly/1xqn0bu
More Information: http://dornsife.usc.edu/zygo-series

Making decisions for children in a medical context can be extremely stressful and complex. In some notable pediatric cases, parents have made decisions that go against the recommendations of doctors. Such cases have included denying treatment for cancer or refusing to allow their children to receive vaccinations. Furthermore, in the case that a child appears to be suffering from serious abuse or neglect, medical centers are now able to forcibly provide care by implementing Child Protective Services (CPS). However, this service has often been criticized for being used incorrectly and simply as a means for health care providers to avoid liabilities.

Panelists for this seminar will discuss how parents and doctors can best make decisions concerning the treatment children should receive. They will also consider how CPS can most appropriately be implemented in a medical setting, and if treatment should be forced if deemed medically necessary.

Moderator: Varun Awasthi, ZYGO Student Director

Janet Schneiderman
, Research Associate Professor, USC Social Work
Kenneth Geller, MD, Director of Dornsife Pre-Health Advisement, Associate Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, USC Keck
Ankit Shah, MD, JD, Assistant Professor, USC Keck, Lecturer in Law, USC Gould, Attending Physician, LAC+USC Medical Center
Rima Basu, Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy, USC Dornsife

Co-sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

CORE 301: Modes of Inquiry

This spring Thematic Option is offering a CORE 301: Modes of Inquiry course by Professor James Collins from the Department of Classics.  This unique interdisciplinary course is entitled “Performing Wisdom” is available to all students.  The course is a requirement for the Thematic Approaches to Humanities and Society minor (http://dornsife.usc.edu/thematic-approaches-to-humanities-and-society/) or may be taken as an elective. Performing Wisdom combines classical philosophy from the Greeks and Romans with performance exercises (such as method acting, improv games, radical theatre).  The full course description is attached along with the reading list.  For D-clearance, please contact Richard Edinger at redinger@usc.edu.

Course Description:

CORE 301: Mode of Inquiry
Professor James Collins, Department of Classics
Lecture: TTH 12:30-1:50 pm 63570D

Performing Wisdom
Fundamental to Greek and Roman philosophy is the concept of the ‘art of living’ (hê technê tou biou, ars vivendi), which maintains that living a good life is at heart a public performance, and thus entails particular modes of action, engagement, and self‐presentation and stylization. Both philosophical theory and practice, both thoughts and deeds—what one believes and how one lives as a result of holding those beliefs—are inextricably bound, and together contribute to the philosophical art of constructing, performing, and becoming the right sort of character. In addition to reading philosophy with an eye to how the ancients variously embodied and performed their wisdom, we will explore techniques drawn from contemporary performance theory in highly performative, experimental, and collaborative learning environments in order to develop an appreciation for this particular sort of philosophical activity. We aim primarily at developing this craft for our own efforts at self‐examination and presentation.

While Tuesdays are devoted primarily to close readings of texts which comprise the foundation of Western thought, we will be looking closely at evidence that sages and philosophers performed their thoughts or intentions in dramatic and compelling, sometimes even irrational and coercive ways, perhaps without even saying a word. Thursdays are then given to rendering our discoveries into philosophical action. We will draw on the Stanislavski ‘system’, ‘textbound’ characterization (Mamet), improvisational techniques (Johnstone), and the ‘gamesercises’ of radical popular theater (Boal) as we explore the connections between, on the one hand, our language, intentions, and thoughts and, on the other, how we behave and interact with one another. These dramatic techniques make explicit the notions of a character’s objectives—what she wants to get other characters to do—and a character’s actions—how she goes about working on another character’s emotions to get what she wants. The art of living requires certain kinds of audience as well, so our dramatic work will train us to become good watchers as well as performers.

The semester is divided into four units: “Becoming Wise” (Sages, Presocratics), “Becoming Socratic” (Phaedo, Euthydemus), “Becoming Stoic” (Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius), and “Becoming Eloquent” (Sophists, declamation, Cicero). However inimitable Socrates seems, we devote considerable energy to exploring, rehearsing, and refashioning his philosophical character. No previous dramatic or formal philosophical experience is required; only a willingness to try new things on your feet while cultivating both a supportive environment and oneself.

Boal, Augusto. Games for Actors and Non‐Actors.
Cicero. Cicero: On the Ideal Orator.
Epictetus. Handbook of Epictetus.
Johnstone, Keith. Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre.
Mamet, David. True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor.
Marcus Aurelius. The Meditations.
Plato. Euthydemus.
Plato. Phaedo in Plato: Five Dialogues.
Stanislavsky, Constantin. Building a Character.
Stanislavsky, Constantin. Creating a Role.
Course reader with selections from the archaic Sages, the Presocratics, the Sophists, and declamation.


Saturday, December 6, 2014 | USC University Park Campus 

The Levan Institute is​ looking for student volunteers and faculty moderators for the Southern California High School Ethics Bowl. The event will be held on USC’s University Park Campus. If interested, please contact Janet Kramer at usclevan@dornsife.usc.edu.

Learn More: http://dornsife.usc.edu/high-school-ethics-bowl
Hosted by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics​

Film Screening: “Northern Light” Levan Institute Cinema of Substance Series

Tuesday, November 11, 2014, The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108 | 7 PM 

RSVP:  http://bit.ly/1EhYFpv  ​

Winner, Most Innovative Feature, 2013 Visions Du Réel, Switzerland
Winner, Best Cinematography, 2013 New Orleans Film Festival, Louisiana

Set against the backdrop of a town’s annual snowmobile race, Northern Light interweaves captivating stories of recession-era America. The lives of three families change profoundly in the north woods of Michigan, where winters are unforgiving, jobs are hard to come by, and the line between living life and merely surviving is razor-thin.

“Cool in tone and temperature, Nick Bentgen’s Northern Light turns white vistas and blue language into a sneakily compelling, endlessly patient observation of three working-class families in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”

—Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

The Cinema of Substance Series showcases meaningful films from around the world that explore who we are and how we might be.

Co-sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the School of Cinematic Arts


Human Rights In and After Conflict | March 21 – March 27, 2015 | Oxford, UK

The Levan Institute partners with the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict annually to offer a workshop at the University of Oxford. Areas of study include human rights in and after conflict, humanitarian action, conflict trends, human rights law, and peacemaking with a focus on recent armed conflicts. The module is a healthy mix of seminars, working groups, and student presentations.

From Marissa Roy, Dornsife Philosophy, Politics and Law ’14 and Annenberg MA Public Diplomacy ’14
“I gained a much clearer idea of what humanitarian work looks like in the field and what challenges humanitarian workers face. I hope that, as a law student with political aspirations, this perspective will help me craft policies that keep in mind the realities of the field.”

More Information and To Apply: http://dornsife.usc.edu/levan-oxford-workshops
Deadline to Apply: Monday, December 1, 2014

Photos from the Levan-Oxford Spring 2014 Workshop: http://bit.ly/10N4nmv

Read about the Spring 2014 Levan-Oxford Workshop in USC Dornsife News “Humanitarian Spring”: http://bit.ly/118Vx3i​

Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics—IS IT TIME TO ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014, Ground Zero Cafe | Noon | Lunch Provided

RSVP:  http://bit.ly/1yn5wfr 

Recent reports of botched executions by lethal injection have reignited debate over the moral and legal defensibility of the death penalty.  As new DNA technologies lead to exoneration of increasing numbers of the condemned, discoveries in brain science alter our views of criminal responsibility, concern over discriminatory application increases, and execution methods are successively deemed unconstitutionally cruel, should the United States finally lay the death penalty to rest?

Program Director and Moderator:
Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science

Michael Brennan, Clinical Professor of Law, USC Gould
Martin Levine, USC Vice Provost and Senior Advisor to the Provost
Dan Simon, Richard L. and Maria B. Crutcher Professor of Law and Psychology, USC Gould
Varun Soni, USC Dean of Religious Life
Ralph Wedgwood, Professor of Philosophy, USC Dornsife​

Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics encourage faculty, staff, and students from every part of our USC community to talk about the ethical questions of the day.