Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Please note: Due to late revisions, some text on this page differs from what appears in the printed version of the USC Catalogue. The changes appear below as highlighted text, with corresponding explanations appearing in the right margin.


Courses of Instruction

Religion (REL)
The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

REL 111g The World of the Hebrew Bible (4) The Hebrew Bible in the cultural setting of the Ancient Near East; the formation of theological and ethical concepts which have shaped Western culture.

REL 112g Religions of Egypt and the Ancient Near East (4) Religions, cultures, and values of ancient Egypt and Near East (Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Arabia, Turkey) and their legacies in contemporary society.

REL 121g The World of the New Testament (4) Historical investigation of New Testament characters, events, ethics and theology in relation to its social, intellectual, and religious contexts in the Jewish and Greco-Roman world.

REL 125g Introduction to Christianity (4) Survey of the changing beliefs and practices of the Christian religion from obscure origins to globalized present, with special attention to the varieties of Christian literature.

REL 131g Religions of Asia (4) Traces the development of religious thought in India, China and Japan, from earliest times to the present, paying attention to certain recurrent themes or motifs.

REL 132g Religions of the West (4) Examination of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in their origins and their development in relation to Western civilization.

REL 133g Religions of Latin America (4) Examines the diverse and complex religious traditions of Latin America.

REL 134gx Introduction to Buddhist Literature (4) Focus primarily on works of Buddhist literature written in a variety of genres. Introduction of basic teachings that link Buddhist traditions across time and space.

REL 135gx Religions of China (4) Historical and thematic survey of Chinese religious history from earliest times to the present.

REL 136xg Sense and Sensuality in Indian Religious Literature (4) Exploration of the senses and the technologies of pleasure in India, relating this material to some fascinating examples of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist literature. Not for major credit for Religion or Religion (Judaic Studies) majors.

REL 137g Introduction to Islam (4) Introduction to Islam, emphasizing its historical and cultural development since the seventh century C.E., and the basic teachings of Islam.

REL 140g Religion and Ethical Issues (4) How major Western religious orientations affect deliberation concerning issues such as reproductive technologies and abortion, physician-assisted death, civil disobedience, homosexuality, economic justice, and just war. Concurrent enrollment: WRIT 140.

REL 145m Religion in Los Angeles (4) Examines the variety of different religious groups and movements in Los Angeles, one of the world’s finest laboratories for studying religious innovation, diversity, and pluralism.

REL 150g Religion and Immigration (4) Study of social and cultural consequences of immigration through the lens of religion. Concurrent enrollment: WRIT 140.

REL 301 Introduction to the Study of Religion (4, Fa) Analysis of alternative paths to spirituality, survey of major critics and interpreters of religious commitment. Majors should take at beginning of major course work.

This new course is available beginning fall 2011.

REL 302 Religions of Ancient Egypt and the Near East (4) Religious experience and values of ancient Egypt and Near East through material culture, literature, art, and cultic practices; and their legacies in contemporary society.

REL 311 The Bible in Western Literature (4) Comparative analysis of biblical works and how they were employed by various writers in major works of Western literature.

REL 312 Biblical Wisdom Literature (4) Survey of and inquiry into the biblical wisdom literature; emphasis on the Book of Job.

REL 315 Thought and Life of Islam (4) History, thought, institutions, and religious practices of Islam.

REL 316 Women and the Islamic Tradition (4, Fa) Overview of social and legal status of women in Islamic society, past and present. Examination of social roles established both for and by Muslim women.

REL 317 Ancient Near Eastern Myth and Literature (4) A close consideration of ancient Near Eastern myths — especially those from Mesopotamia and Canaan — with special attention to their influence on the Bible.

REL 319 Religious and Ethical Issues in Death and Dying (4) Analysis of religious and ethical approaches to death and dying, including refusal of treatment for competent and incompetent patients, voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, and resuscitation.

REL 323 Aegean Archaeology (4) (Enroll in CLAS 323)

REL 325 Religious Experience in the Greco-Roman World (4) Varieties of religious experience as reflected in the literature, art, and cultic practices of the Hellenistic world.

REL 328 Archaeology of Religion in the Greco-Roman World (4) (Enroll in CLAS 328)

REL 329 Themes in the Religions of China (4) A study of selected themes in the history of Chinese religions and culture. Compares cases and materials from several historical periods and religious traditions.

REL 330 Themes in the Religions of South Asia (4) History, teaching, and practice of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religious traditions of India and Southeast Asia.

REL 331 Religions of East Asia (4) History, teaching, and practice of the religions of China, Tibet, and Japan.

REL 332 Religions of Japan (4) The development of religious thought and practice in the Japanese islands, with Buddhism and Shinto being the most prominent.

REL 333 Religion in the Borderlands (4) Survey of religious history of U.S./Mexico borderlands. Emphasis is given to definitions of place and transformations in culture and forms of belief.

REL 334 Religion and Colonial Encounter (4) Survey of religious responses to colonial encounter in the Americas. Emphasis given to study of religious innovations of Amerindians, Africans, and Europeans.

REL 335 Gender, Religion, and Sexuality (4) The construction of gender and sexuality in Western religious traditions; its continued impact on contemporary intellectual, cultural, and social life.

REL 336m Re-viewing Religion in Asian America (4) Interdisciplinary analysis of the religions traditions, institutions, and experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

REL 339 Studies in the History of Christianity (4) In-depth exploration of one of the pivotal moments in the history of Christianity and Western society.

REL 341 Technology, Culture, and Ethics (4) Examination of value questions arising from the impact of technology on individuals, social institutions, and culture.

REL 360 Ethical Issues in the New Medical Revolution (4) Multimedia-oriented analysis of issues; definition of life and death; research on human subjects, health care delivery, euthanasia, abortion, genetic counseling, behavior control.

REL 364 Religion and Ethics (4) Traces the development of how religious ideas have informed ethics, or accounts of the good life, including notions of justice, righteousness, virtue, duty, charity and happiness.

REL 366 Religion and Social Change (4) Empirical and theoretical analysis of social change and its effect on religious institutions as well as the impact of religious movements on society.

This new course is available beginning fall 2011.

REL 370 Religion and Visuality (4) Examination of the deep connections between visuality and religions, including visions, controversies over religious images, and other connections between religion and visual art.

REL 375 Conflict and Change and the Ethics of Business (4) Impact of recent events and developments on the ethics of business, such as civil rights, affirmative action, professionalism, consumerism, ecology, changing life styles, and government regulation.

REL 390 Special Problems (1-4) Supervised, individual studies. No more than one registration permitted. Enrollment by petition only.

REL 394 Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology (4) Study of archaeology and excavated artifacts from the ancient Near East with reference to Biblical studies.

REL 401 Seminar in Religious Studies (4, Sp) Survey of methods and selected issues in the field of religious studies; required of all majors during their junior or senior year. (Duplicates credit in former REL 399.) Recommended Preparation: REL 301.

REL 414 History of Islamic Law (4, Sp) Examines legal methods and religious sources used in Islamic law. Emphasis is placed on the way cultural developments affect legal thought and the administration of justice.

REL 415 Seminar in Buddhism (4) Seminar on selected aspects of the Buddhist tradition.

REL 417 Seminar in South Asian Religions (4) Exploration of particular themes and/or traditions in South Asian religions.

REL 425 Communicating Religion (4) (Enroll in COMM 425)

REL 426 Religion, Media and Hollywood: Faith in TV (4) (Enroll in COMM 426)

REL 431 The Taoist Tradition (4) (Enroll in EALC 431)

REL 433 Seminar in Mysticism (4) Exploration of the mystical texts and practices of different religious traditions, their claims of special or immediate religious experience, and their conflicts with institutional authorities.

REL 435 Religious Thought After the Enlightenment (4) Changes in religious thought between the late 18th and early 20th centuries in the wake of the emergence of modernity in the West.

REL 440 Christian Thought in the 20th Century (4) Examination of dynamic new directions taken by Christian understandings of self, God, and salvation in response to the novel conditions of modern culture, politics and philosophy.

REL 441 Origins of Modern Theology (4) 19th century liberal, rationalist, and historical theology.

REL 442 Religion and Science (4) Explores whether religion and science offer competing or complementary models for understanding the world and the human place within it.

REL 455 Philosophy of Religion: Bases of Belief and Disbelief (4) Rational and empirical foundations for religious faith and for skepticism.

REL 460 Senior Seminar: Medical Ethics (4) Analysis of ethical problems related to new developments in medical science. Graded CR/NC.

REL 461 Business and Society (4) Theories of corporate social responsibility from contrasting points of view and the relation of social responsibility to theories of management ethics, utilizing case studies.

REL 462 Religion and Violence (4) Religious and moral perspectives on war, pacifism, violent and non-violent protest, and religion-based terrorism and militia.

REL 468 Sociology of Religion (4) The role of religion in modern society from the standpoint of sociological theory and research.

REL 469 Black Religion in America (4) Historical, sociological, and theological analysis of the nature and role of black religion in the American setting.

REL 471 Jesus (4) A study of major interpretations of the figure of Jesus, with focus on the interaction between religious traditions and culture.

REL 473 Advanced Hebrew Bible Studies (4) Consideration of specific topics in Old Testament studies; particular topics determined each semester.

REL 474 Advanced New Testament Studies (4) Consideration of specific topics in New Testament studies. Particular topics determined each semester.

REL 479 Seminar in Christian Thought (4) Studies a theme, period, or problem from the history of Christian thought within its intellectual and social context.

REL 481 History of Religion in America (4) Intellectual, institutional, and social history of religion in America from colonial times to the present.

REL 482 Jesus in American History and Culture (4) (Enroll in HIST 482)

REL 483 Religion and Popular Culture in the United States (4, Sp) Critical analysis of the relationship between religion, mass media, and popular cultural forms in the U.S. Recommended preparation: REL 301.

REL 484 American Religion, Foreign Policy and the News Media (4, Sp) (Enroll in JOUR 484)

REL 490x Directed Research (2-8, max 8) Individual research and readings. Not available for graduate credit.

REL 491x Undergraduate Honors Research (4) Individual research for honors in the major leading to a substantial project. Open only to religion majors at the junior or senior level.

REL 493 The Art and Archaeology of Religion: Beginnings (4) Examination of history of religion through its material expression: art, architecture and artifact. Exploration of different themes and time periods.

REL 494 Advanced Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology (4, max 8, Irregular) Laboratory work in special Near Eastern archaeological problems; emphasis on ceramic analysis, conservation techniques, dating processes, and excavation report evaluation.

REL 495 Field Methods in Archaeology (2-6) Archaeological field study emphasizing current paradigms of data collection and evaluation; social scientific study of material culture and its relationship to religious expression.

REL 499 Special Topics in Religion (2-4, max 8) Selected topics in religious studies.

REL 500 History of Theological Ethics (4) The ethical thought of major theological thinkers in the patristic, medieval, Reformation, and modern periods.

REL 501 Theories and Methods in Religious Ethics (4) Classical and contemporary writers on the interpretation of religious ethics. Perspectives from the history, phenomenology and the social scientific study of religious ethics.

REL 503 Theories of Rights and Justice (4) Naturalist, utilitarian, contractarian, and Marxian conceptions of rights and distributive justice; their history and contribution to contemporary social ethics.

REL 504 Ethics in the History of Western Religious Thought (4) Ethics in the thought of key religious thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from the first to the 19th centuries.

REL 505 Contemporary Theological Ethics (4) The current state of Reformation and Catholic ethics in comparison with current theological ethics influenced by the Enlightenment.

REL 506 Tradition and Community in Western Religious Thought (4) Analysis of how religious identity has been formed in Western history through the definition of tradition and community.

REL 507 Social Ethics (4) Major traditions of religious social ethics in the U.S. in their development from European antecedents to their current states. Prerequisite: graduate standing.

REL 508 Ethics of Liberation Theology (4) Analysis of a major movement in contemporary theological ethics in its societal context and relationship to the institutional church and traditional Christian ethics.

REL 509 Early and Medieval Religious Thought in the West (4) Religious thought in the West from pre-Augustine to post-Thomas Aquinas. Emphasis on primary texts: Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Averroes, Maimonides, and Thomas.

REL 510 Biblical Ethics — Old Testament (4) Old Testament ethics, with emphasis on the historical, institutional, and literary context.

REL 512 Biblical Ethics — New Testament (4) New Testament ethics, with emphasis on the historical, institutional, and literary context.

REL 515 Comparative Religious Ethics (4) A comparative study of ethical thought and practice in cultures and of persons shaped by the major world religions.

REL 516 Modern Continental Religious Thought (4) The effects of the Enlightenment on Jewish, Catholic, and Reformation thought of the 19th century, and of the latter on 20th century religious thought.

REL 520 The Christian Pragmatism of Reinhold Niebuhr (4) Examination of Niebuhr’s life and writings, critical analysis of significance regarding social gospel, Neo-orthodoxy, Marxism, New Deal, World War II, and the Cold War.

REL 530 Social Theory in Religious Social Ethics (4) Relationship of sociological theory and methodology to the normative analysis of social institutions, social policy, and cultural values.

REL 531 Sociology of Religion (4) Examination of major classical and contemporary theorists, the impact of social change on religious institutions, and the social role and function of religion.

REL 532 Moral Issues in Urban Religion (4) The history, theologies, and practices of urban religious institutions: an examination of moral issues in the changing interaction between religion and urban culture.

REL 543 Radicalism and Reform in Religious Social Ethics (4) Critical and historical analysis of radical and reformist themes in 20th century religious social criticism, particularly in the American situation.

REL 544 Law, Politics, and the Religious Conscience (4) 19th century backgrounds. Church-state issues; religious communities as political agents; religious rhetoric and public political rhetoric.

REL 560 Normative Analysis of Issues (4) Methods of case study analysis which identify and draw upon ethical theory and result in public policy recommendation.

REL 565 Seminar in Bioethics (4) Ethical issues in death and dying, human experimentation, genetic engineering, behavior modification, health care delivery, abortion, and others.

REL 567 Seminar in Business Ethics (4) Critical evaluation of ethical issues in the relation between business and society; focus on value conflicts in resolution of issues.

REL 568 The Rights of Groups (4) Legal and moral rights of religious, racial, ethnic, and communal groups; sources and criticisms of group claims in sociology, ethics, and jurisprudence.

REL 570 Ethical Assessment of Technology (4) Analysis of psychological, social, and cultural impact of technology; formulation of normative social policy regarding military, computer, communications, energy, pollution, and behavior control technologies.

REL 572 Freedom, Justice and Order in Social Policy (4) Significance of, and conflicts between central social values; their applications to specific contemporary social policy questions.

REL 575 The Ethics of Women’s Liberation (4) The methodologies of feminist ethics, their emergence out of the academic disciplines and women’s movement, and their applications to social policy issues.

REL 590 Directed Research (1-12) Research leading to the master’s degree. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department. Graded CR/NC.

REL 594abz Master’s Thesis (2-2-0) Credit on acceptance of thesis. Graded IP/CR/NC.

REL 599 Special Topics (2-4, max 8)

REL 600 Advanced Seminar in Religious and Philosophical Approaches to Social Ethics (4, max 8) Ontological and positivistic bases of social ethics.

REL 602 The Evolution of Roman Catholic Thought (4) The modern Roman Catholic description of the development of doctrine in the light of its ancient, medieval and modern sources.

REL 626 Seminar in Jewish Ethics (4) (Enroll in Judaic Studies 626)

REL 630 Advanced Seminar in Religion and Culture (4, max 8) Moral expression as critical of and shaped by institutions and cultures.

REL 660 Advanced Seminar in Ethical Analysis and Policy Formation (4, max 8) Ethical reflection on the making of private and public policies from a moral perspective.

REL 790 Directed Research (1-12) Research leading to the doctorate. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department. Graded CR/NC.

REL 794abcdz Doctoral Dissertation (2-2-2-2-0) Credit on acceptance of dissertation. Graded IP/CR/NC.