Instructor: Reutter | TR 11:00 AM – 12:20 PM

National news has buzzed with health and wellness-related debates on issues including widespread opioid abuse, pharmaceutical price-fixing, healthcare disparities, family leave, research funding shortfalls, Covid politics and protocols, the fair treatment of people of diverse abilities, senior care concerns, right-to-die issues, and more. Legal, educational, and medical institutions have considered equity issues like “bathroom bills” and trans healthcare discrimination, while Cincinnati’s infant mortality rates, HIV prevalence, and race healthcare gaps still cause alarm. At the same time, we live in an era of community gardens, online caregiver support groups, therapy animals, and LGBTQ legal rights to marriage and survivorship benefits. Millennials and Gen Z students come of age amidst media debate and contested institutional practices in the these and other situations associated with health, well-being and happiness in our lives, communities, and nation–and our cultural narratives and media communications reflect this.

This English, medical humanities, and disability studies elective course explores historical and contemporary reflections on social, cultural, and ethical dimensions of health, well-being, and happiness in various media, including books, essays, personal narratives, psychological writings, public scholarship, and social media. While engaging with excerpts from books like Aristotle’s Ethics to articles on parasocial friendship in Dora the Explorer; and with authors from Viktor Frankl to the Dalai Lama to Audre Lorde, students will have the opportunity to learn about classical Western approaches, global approaches, and (sometimes contested) contemporary US approaches to health, well-being, and happiness. The course will include occasional guest lectures and other engagements with UC faculty and local Cincinnati community leaders. All texts and other media are supplied online. You will be expected to answer “pre-discussion questions” before each class, and to sign up for “class leadership” two or three times each term. Assessment is based on this preparation, on oral or written engagement in daily class discussion, and on a formal research project and a presentation.