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Happiness in Western Thought, Art, and Culture

Program(s): Immersion

This course is currently at capacity during the Extended and Rolling deadlines. If you select this course as a first choice on your application, please apply for second options that fulfills your interests. 

*Taught Online for Summer 2021*  This program will explore “happiness” as a set of ideas, artifacts, and problems in the cultures of Europe and the Americas. We will study works ranging from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy to modern short stories, lyric poems, and films, by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Seneca, Kant, Mill, Keats, Shelley, and Dickinson.  As we do so, we will examine the different definitions and understandings of happiness put forward by these texts. “Happiness” is defined sometimes as a set of qualities of a human life that mak  it worth living and worthy of praise, and sometimes as a set of thoughts and feelings that give a sense of satisfaction and meaning.  Sometimes happiness is defined in terms of an individual’s experience, and sometimes it is seen as something achieved in community. Finally, we will ask if it makes sense to speak of specifically “Western” notions of happiness, and how a different cultural or historical perspective can affect our understanding of the texts we will study and the views of happiness they exemplify.

Daily Course Expectations

  • 6 hours of daily work
  • Mix of synchronous and asynchronous work (see definitions here)
  • 2 required synchronous sessionx per day: 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. CST

Course Considerations

Strong performance in high school English is required; preferred that the English course is at an advanced or honors level, if available. Some prior course work that requires critical thinking about society and culture (via geography, history, ethnic studies, psychology, etc.) is also strongly recommended. This course is an excellent introduction to the kind of close reading, interpretive, and discussion skills that undergraduates learn in the College at the University of Chicago.

Similar courses include Collegiate Writing: Awakening into Consciousness.

Discussion Intensive

Course Overview

Current Grade / Education Level

9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade



Start Date

July 13

End Date

July 29

Class Details

Primary Instructor

Caterina Fugazzola

Academic Interest

Humanities (e.g., arts, philosophy)
Examining Culture and Society
Writing and Literature

Class Specifics

Course Code

CLCV 14019 94

Class Day(s)

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri


Session II

Course Length

3 weeks