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For everyone’s health and safety, Summer Session will not host students on campus for residential programs this summer. Many of our courses will be taught remotely online so that you can still explore your intellectual interests, gain insight into college life, and be a part of our distinctive learning community. We hope you will join us online this summer! Our Summer Session team is here to help via email at


Happiness in Western Thought, Art, and Culture

Program(s): Immersion

This course is currently at capacity. We are admitting students to the waitlist only.

*Taught Online for Summer 2020*  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.

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 14

End Date

July 30

Class Details

Primary Instructor

David Wray

Secondary Instructor

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

Class Duration


3:00 PM


Session II

Course Length

3 weeks