The Cult of Happiness: Pursuing the Good Life in America and China (CHINGEN 10SC)
The 2006 film Pursuit of Happyness, an unabashed celebration of the American Dream, was enthusiastically embraced by Chinese audiences. It seems that the pursuit of happiness has become truly globalized, even as the American Dream is slipping away for many. Are Americans still convinced that their conception of happiness is a self-evident truth and a universal gospel? Is there anything that Americans might learn about what it means to live a good life from not only the distant past, but also cultures in which happiness is conceptualized and sought after very differently? This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the question of happiness and invites undergraduate students to reflect on its relationship to virtue, wisdom, health, love, prosperity, justice, and solidarity. Giving equal weight to Chinese and Western sources, it seeks to defamiliarize some of the most deeply held ideas and values in American society through the lens of cross-cultural inquiry.n nDuring the summer, students will read a selection of novels, memoirs, and reflections by philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists. In September, we will review these texts and place them alongside movies, short fiction, news stories, and social commentary while we interrogate the chimera of happiness. In addition to daily seminars, we will experiment with meditation, short-form life writing, and service learning with participation of local elders. Furthermore, there will be at least three guest speakers, including a prominent Confucian philosopher and a Stanford alum now running a happiness-related enterprise. nSophomore College Course: Application required, due noon, April 7, 2015. Apply at http://soco.stanford.edu.