1st Edition

The Routledge History of Happiness

Edited By Katie Barclay, Darrin McMahon, Peter N. Stearns Copyright 2024
    490 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Unmatched in originality, breadth, and scope, The Routledge History of Happiness features chapters that explore the history, anthropology, and psychology of happiness across the globe.

    Through a chronological approach that ranges from the Classical and Postclassical to the twenty-first century, this volume balances intellectual-history treatments and wider efforts to deal with relevant popular culture and experience, including consumerism. It explores how and why the history of happiness has emerged in recent decades, as well as psychological and social science approaches to happiness, with a history of how relevant psychological research has unfolded. Chapters examine early cultural traditions concerning happiness, including material on Buddhist and Chinese traditions, and how they continue to influence ideas about happiness in the present day. Overall, each section emphasises wide geographical coverage, with particular attention paid to East Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia, and Africa.

    The Routledge History of Happiness is of great use to all undergraduates, postgraduates, and scholars interested in the global history of emotions.

    1.      A History of Happiness: an Introduction

    Katie Barclay, Darrin McMahon and Peter Stearns

    Part One: Continuity and Change

    2.      Buddhism and Happiness: A Modern Romance or Tale as Old as Time?

    Lang Chen

    3.      Happiness and Grieving Well: Family Bonds and Mourning Practices in China

    Becky Yang Hsu and Joseline Lu

    4.      The Transition from Early to Modern Happiness in Bhutan

    Michael S. Givel

    5.      Happiness in Old Age: A Very Brief History of a Complex Topic

    Barbara H. Rosenwein

    Part Two: Classical and Postclassical

    6.      Happiness in the Classical Greco-Roman World

    David Konstan

    7.      Qur’anic Happiness: With Remarks on Late Antique Fear of God, Asceticism, and Emotions as Moral Understanding

    Karen Bauer

    8.      Medieval Happiness Reconsidered: The Unstable Human Heart in This World and the Next

    Michael Barbezat

    Part Three: Early Modern

    9.      Historicizing Happiness Management in the Joseon Korean Kingdom

    Susan Broomhall

    10.   Family, Care and the Affective Universe of Novohispanic Baroque Happiness: The Chiaroscuros of an Enduring Tradition

    Estela Roselló Soberón

    11.   Shakespeare’s Unhappiness Archive and the Early Modern Social

    Cora Fox

    12.   Western Laughter and Happiness in Transition

    Joy Wiltenburg

    Part Four: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

    13.   Happiness and the Enlightenment

    Ritchie Robertson

    14.   Happiness and Industrialization: Western Society in the Nineteenth Century

    Peter N. Stearns

    15.   Definitions of Happiness in Ottoman Syria: Hegemonic and Subordinate Voices during the Nineteenth Century

    Fruma Zachs

    16.   Who Can be Happy in Russia?

    Jane Costlow

    Part Five:Twentieth Century

    17.   “We Strive to Make the People a Little Happier Every Day.” Political Discourse and Practices of Happiness in Brazil and Argentina in Mid-Twentieth Century

    María Bjerg and Sandra Gayol

    18.   Happiness and the Origins of Modern Consumerism

    Gary Cross

    19.   The Rise of Positive Psychology

    Daniel Horowitz

    20.   Politics and Happiness, an Unhappy Inheritance: Liberal Democracies and the Return of Fascist Populism

    Ross Abbinnett

    Part Six: Twenty-first Century

    21.   How to be Happy in Botswana

    Deborah Durham

    22.   Happy Japan: An Essay

    Florian Coulmas

    23.   In Pursuit of the Good Life: Young Men’s Cultivation of Enjoyment in Niger

    Adeline Masquelier

    Part Seven: Interdisciplinary Contexts

    24.   The History of Happiness in Academic Psychology

    Max Genecov, Abigail Blyler, Noah Love and Martin E. P. Seligman

    25.   Decades of Scientific Research on Human Happiness: Questions, Findings, and Urgent Future Directions

    Carol D. Ryff

    26.   Contemporary Happiness Efforts

    Mariano Rojas

    27.   Epilogue: Joy’s Futures

    Katie Barclay


    Katie Barclay is Head of Historical and Classical Studies and Co-Director of the Fay Gale Centre for Research on Gender, University of Adelaide. She writes widely on the history of emotions, gender and family life. Her recent publications include Caritas: Neighbourly Love and the Early Modern Self (2021) and with Leanne Downing, Emotions, Memes and the Making of History (2023).

    Darrin M. McMahon is the David W. Little Class of 1944 Professor and Chair of the Department History at Dartmouth College and the author or editor of eight books, including Happiness: A History (2006), History and Human Flourishing (2023), and most recently, Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea (2023).

    Peter N. Stearns is a Distinguished University Professor of History at George Mason University. He has written widely about the history of emotion and a variety of topics in world history, including a short book on Happiness in World History (2021). With a colleague, he is currently completing a history of contemporary American childhood.

    ‘In an age when happiness is the subject of hundreds of self-help books, global surveys, and government initiatives, The Routledge History of Happiness is an essential read. It brings together leading historians of the emotions to address how ideas and experiences of happiness have changed over time and varied across the globe. The volume’s scope is wide, with perspectives on happiness and the well-lived life in childhood and old age, in the ancient Greco-Roman world and in modern Bhutan, in consumer contexts, and in family rituals. The book offers an all too rare comparative view of the subject, addressing differences and similarities across time, culture, and the life course. Brilliantly conceived and carefully curated, this volume is an important contribution to happiness studies and the history of emotions and psychology.’

    Susan Matt, Weber State University, USA

    'The Routledge History of Happiness is a delightfully deep and detailed exploration of one of the key drivers of individual and collective human life across time and culture. Readers interested in more than the superficial treatment this topic often receives will be grateful for—and fascinated by—this volume’s nuanced chapters, which carefully cover ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary viewpoints, including perspectives from the East as well as the West, and from the Global South and well as the Global North. This insightful volume demonstrates the essential role the humanities have to play in the study and cultivation of human flourishing, and as such, is a valued contribution to the new field of the Positive Humanities.'

    James O. PawelskiUniversity of PennsylvaniaUSA