Self-Help Literature (ENG 3402: Topics in Literature)

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Self-Help Literature (ENG 3402: Topics in Literature)
This Course is OPEN.
Course Code
Semester / Year
Spring 2021
Course Description

Do you dream of having more happiness, success, or love? Of getting better grades, jobs, relationships, or sleep? If so, you are not alone! Countless people want more from their lives and from others, and they turn to self-help to make their dreams reality. Some doctors even prescribe self-help books for their patients! What is this obsession with self-help? What does it offer us? Why do we keep reading it?

This course is an introduction to “the American love affair with self-help” through its literature, industry, benefits, and critiques. Though self-help is often dismissed as providing low-brow, quack remedies for the masses, this course considers it in earnest, exploring what makes the genre so compelling, and why and how self-help matters, to individuals and societies. Students will read self-help texts; try their techniques; reflect on their methods, effectiveness, promises, and problems; and create their own self-help texts for others.

“This course explores a specific idea or theme in English-language literature. Discussion and analysis of texts related to the course topic. Topics change each semester and have included humor, vampires and zombies, transnationalism and homesickness, utopias and dystopias, culture and identity, and graphic novels.”

*Avatar Credit: Belli, Jill. “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.” 2020. Photograph. New York, New York.

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