This week, amidst my difficult midterms and paper-writing season, I had the opportunity to write a quick paper on a rather unusual trope: the use or subversion of a romantic comedy trope – female agency – in a film titled (500) Days of Summer. 

The paper was an assignment for an elective (fun, unrelated to my major/minor) class I am taking this semester on Shattering Romantic Comedy Tropes. The class is an upper division comedy screenwriting one in the School of Cinematic Arts (the first class I have taken at SCA while at USC!) and has been a really fun break from my harder, chemical engineering senior design and upper division political science and writing classes. To that end, I thought I’d reflect this week on some of the other fun electives I have taken in the last four years (some of which double counted as General Education classes)!

ANTH 202: Introduction to Archaeology

I took this class my first semester freshman year, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. For one, I was surprised that archaeology was a class I could take for a general education requirement – my high school had very standard social science subjects like history, geography, and economics – and was amazed that there was such a wide variety of social science classes at USC! Despite having taken this class years ago, it remains one of my favorites at USC – my professor was both intriguing and supportive (shoutout Professor Seligson wherever you are you are greatly missed), I was able to make new friends with other freshmen in the class, and I got to learn a ton of fascinating ancient history! 

CLAS 280: Classical Mythology in Art and Literature

This class was one I took my sophomore year, and despite being both a general education class and one that counted towards my old minor (classical perspectives!) I definitely count it as a ‘fun’ class because none of my assignments (despite being fairly long readings like the Iliad and the Odyssey) ever felt like a chore! I am a huge (and I mean huge) classical mythology buff, and being able to say I was reading Greek myths for homework truly felt like I hit the jackpot. Additionally, the classics department at USC is incredibly supportive and friendly – they take students to plays and museum exhibits (including at the Getty which is pictured above), and host weekly classic teas – and it was lovely to interact more with the people in that department.

CORE 200: Liberal Arts Reading Salon

This was another class I took my sophomore year, and is one I highly recommend to everyone I meet! It was only two units (a more traditional elective class), and was credit/no-credit, meaning that you could not take it for a grade. Essentially it was a small group of students (about 10) who met weekly and discussed a book we were all reading together. The best part? We curated the reading list as a class! Each semester the theme of the class differs, and the books that the class reads in turn change. When i took it, the theme was ‘Best Books’, and so each student pitched 1-2 books that they had picked from a ‘Best Books’ list of their choice (it could be the Goodreads Choice Awards best books, the NYT Bestsellers list, or anything in between) and the class as a whole voted on which books we wanted to read! Over the course of the semester I read a series of fascinating books, from Nabokov to Joyce to a collection of romantic short stories to Russian philosophy, and it was truly such an amazing mix of literature that I would never have consumed on my own.  The weekly classes too were a very fun experience – everyone in the class had very diverse, different perspectives, and it led to some exciting (and sometimes very loud) discussions! On a more personal side note, I took the class with a friend at the time, and taking this class together really solidified our friendship – today, we’re seniors, best friends, and roommates.

Sheetal Madnani

Sheetal Madnani

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Guangzhou, China PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @sheetalmadnani On campus I have been involved with Model UN, Freshman Academy, and interning abroad through the Global Fellows program! I also conduct research in environmental policy and climate mitigation, and am involved in climate advocacy through the LA Mayor's office.