English 90hl. How to Live: When Literature Meets Self-Help

Instructor: Beth Blum
Terms: Fall Term

Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Sever 111

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students. 

Can literature teach us how to live? We will read some lauded contemporary narratives that strive to answer this question, such as Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her (1996), Nick Hornby’s How to be Good (2001), Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013), and Eleanor Davis’s How to Be Happy (2014). We will investigate the role and uses of literary guidance in our advice-saturated culture. Can novels offer correctives to the materialist pursuit of success? Is self-invention possible, according to these authors, or are we determined by our origins?

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