ENGLISH 290 - Themes in Language and Literature
Fall 2023, Section 002 - The Pursuit of Happiness
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


If you know one line from the Declaration of Independence, it’s probably this one: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” But what does it mean today, and what has it meant in all the years since 1776? 

In this course we will look at how happiness has been represented and experienced by various populations in the United States from 1776 to the present. To do this we will read literature by European American, African American, Native American, Chinese American, Latinx American, and Arab American writers. Interspersed among literary texts will be several texts about theories and measures of happiness, along with music, art, film/TV and advertising that focuses on happiness. As we read these texts we will ask questions like these: How do literary texts give us access to understandings about what happiness means to people who differ by gender, race, ethnicity, and historical moment? And what do these texts obscure? How do our own conceptions of happiness shift as we consider multiple texts on the topic? How do non-literary texts represent or obscure the intersection of race with other identifications, especially those based on gender and sexuality?


This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: NOT APPLICABLE

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Foundations & Methods (200-level), Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Time: Contemporary/Modern

Course Requirements:

Course requirements: one five-page paper, one ten-page paper, one comic, and lots of short collaborative assignments


ENGLISH 290 - Themes in Language and Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
002 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
003 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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