ENGLISH 9079A ~ Romanticism and Happiness

Professor Joel Faflak

Fall Half Course.

This course asks: What’s so good about feeling good? Romantic and post-Romantic literature and culture were crucial in articulating what Darrin McMahon calls the “felicific calculus of happiness.” Following in the wake of Enlightenment moral philosophy, medicine, and literature, Romantic thought and writing comprise an instrumental training ground in how to be happy, a training perfected in the Victorian period. The Romantics and their heirs also challenged this discipline’s “felicific calculus.” Through our reading of various literary, philosophical, scientific, and medical texts, we will examine how Romanticism made us happy – or not. A key component of this course will be to examine the rise of both psychoanalysis and psychiatry in the Romantic and post-Romantic periods, and how these disciplines both contribute to and contest our current obsession with well-being. The course will also explore a variety of historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts, both Romantic and contemporary, including scholarship on what is now known as "happiness studies." Be prepared to be depressed.

View the course syllabus here: English 9079A.