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Undergraduate and Graduate Programs 2023-2024

AMER 476 Selfhood and Emotional Life in American Culture and History

Using texts drawn from cultural and social history as well as from such disciplines as cultural studies, social psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and sociology, this course will examine the experience of selfhood and manifestations of emotional life in American culture and in modern culture more generally from a historical perspective. Issues to be considered in the course include: the contrast between the Western and East Asian sense of self; the shift from an emphasis on moral "character" to that of "personality" as the core of selfhood in the United States during the early twentieth century; the struggle to manage such "negative" emotions as anger and jealousy during the twentieth century; the rise of "American cool" in this century; the emergence of the culture of self-realization; and the increasing importance of a sense of "precarity" and depression in recent decades. Authors to be read include: Hazel R. Markus, Antonio Damasio, Warren I. Susman, T. J. Jackson Lears, Peter N. Stearns, Lauren Berlant, Alain Ehrenberg, George Herbert Mead, David Riesman, Arlie R. Hochschild, and Michel Foucault. Credit units: 3 ECTS Credit units: 5.

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