Berkeley Book Chats
Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History (Princeton, 2022) tells a new story about the cultural imagination of the West. Timothy Hampton (Comparative Literature and French) shows how cheerfulness — understood as a momentary uptick in emotional energy, a temporary lightening of spirit — functions as a theme in the work of major artists from Shakespeare to Louis Armstrong.
He examines cheerfulness as a philosophical theme in a wide range of texts and disciplines, including Protestant theology, medical writing, Enlightenment psychology, and modern aesthetics.
Hampton is joined by Seth Lerer (Literature, UC San Diego).