This seminar aims to provide the participants with a better understanding of the concepts and practices of self-improvement in American literature and culture. In the course of the seminar, we will examine this concept’s historical development and cultural impact from the times of the Early Republic to the 21st century. Dealing with authors such as Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Horatio Alger, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Rhonda Byrne, Oprah Winfrey, and others, we will trace and analyze the narratives of self-improvement as well as their functions in the sociopolitical contexts that engender them. Close readings of the respective texts will allow us to investigate their formal literary characteristics in relation to the concepts and narratives of self-improvement constructed in them. Information regarding course requirements will be provided in the first session.