“This very moment is the perfect teacher” – Selfhood and Self-Help in American Literature and Culture
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|154670||“This very moment is the perfect teacher” – Selfhood and Self-Help in American Literature and Culture||2 HS||Mi 16:00 – 17:30||digital||Sattler|
Self-help is a multi-million dollar industry in the USA, but it has long become an international phenomenon with self-improvement guides telling all of us how to build a business and get rich, how to find lasting love, or even how to stop caring so much. Focused on improving or, indeed, “fixing” a seemingly defective self, self-help guides even address mental health concerns such as addiction and anxiety. While these types of texts are well in tune with neoliberal capitalism and its constant urge to work on the self, their tradition is much older and leads back to Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography.
This class addresses the self-help guide as a genre, taking into account questions of content and form, as well as asking what notions of the self are perpetuated in these kinds of texts. It will also focus on a variety of self-help movements and “gurus” and their role in late capitalism.
A reader with material will be made available at the start of the semester.
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