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COURSE TITLE: Women's Writing Then and Now
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Elizabeth Willson Gordon
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: What creative strategies have women used historically to get their writing published? What does gender matter when one is writing or reading a text? This course explores both a history of women and the printed word and a reflection on contemporary issues: genre, authorship, canonicity and tradition, material production of texts, and relations to feminist thought. By reading a wide selection of texts -devotional works, polemical essays, diary entries, poems, "serious" novels and "chick lit" - this course considers women's writing today in the context of the women who came before.

Prerequisites: ENGL 215
  • Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938) Oxford UP, 2017
  • Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963) Faber, 2005
  • Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) Penguin, 2000
  • A.S. Byatt’s Possession: A Romance (1990) Vintage, 1992
  • Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) Penguin, 2010
  • Selected Poems, Essays, Diary entries, and Short Stories  
Presentation and Discussion Initiation15%
Short Paper (3-4 pages, 1000-1200 words)15%
Research Paper (8-10 pages, 2500-3000 words)30%
Course Professionalism and Participation10%
Final Exam30%
COURSE OBJECTIVES: This course will explore a number of interrelated issues about women’s writing including genre, authorship, canonicity and tradition, material production of texts, and relations to feminist thought. We will read a variety of works (polemical essays, short stories, poems and novels) but the emphasis will be on the novel as this has been a form associated with women, and the form writing takes will be one of the ongoing topics of discussion. We will also discuss types of life writing and the relation of works of fiction to authorial biography. The course will place the texts in various historical, literary, and theoretical contexts. The texts range in focus, time of publication, as well as author nationality, but the list is necessarily not equally representative of the broad category of “women’s writing.” The texts chosen, however, speak to each other and to issues in complex, conflicting, and interesting ways. Each text also takes up some aspect of women’s lives and experiences but the boundaries around what should be included are by no means settled. Students will engage with the course material in a variety of ways including presentations, leading discussions, papers, responding to peers’ work, informal writing assignments, etc.
  • January 5 Introduction, Discuss key terms
  • Female Artistic Production
    • January 8 A Room of One’s Own (Chapter 1); Sign up for Presentations via Moodle
    • January 10 A Room of One’s Own (Chapter 2), hosted by
    • January 12 A Room of One’s Own (Chapter 3-4), hosted by 
    • January 15 A Room of One’s Own (Chapters 5-6), hosted by
  • Changing Gender Roles and Relations
    • January 17 The Suffrage Movement (readings available via moodle), hosted by
    • January 19 Suffrage Movement, hosted by
    • January 22 Woolf’s Three Guineas, hosted by
    • January 24 IS Conference –No Class
    • January 26 Three Guineas
    • January  29  Three Guineas
    • January  31 Mansfield’s “The Little Governess” and “Marriage la Mode” (via moodle), hosted by
    • February 2 Mansfield’s “The Garden Party” and “The Doll’s House” (via moodle), hosted by
    • February 5 Plath’s The Bell Jar, hosted by
    • February 7 The Bell Jar 
    • February 9  The Bell Jar
  • History, Revision, and Canonicity
    • February 12 Jane Eyre (film version), hosted by
    • February 14 Gilbert and Gubar (readings via moodle), hosted by
    • February 16 Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, hosted by
    • February 19 Reading Week
    • February 21 Reading Week
    • February 23 Reading Week
    • February 26 Wide Sargasso Sea, hosted by
    • February 28 Wide Sargasso Sea
    • March 2 Byatt’s Possession, hosted by
    • March 5 Possession, hosted by
    • March 7 Possession
    • March 9 Possession
  • Late Twentieth-Century Feminism 
    • March 12 Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, hosted by
    • March 14 Bridget Jones’s Diary
    • March 16 Bridget Jones’s Diary
    • March 19 Bridget Jones’s Diary (film version), hosted by
    • March 21 Paper Abstracts Due on Moodle; Bridget Jones’s Diary
    • March 23 Post Feminism? (readings via moodle), hosted by
    • March 26 Selected Poems, hosted by
    • March 28  Research Paper Workshop—Bring a paper copy of your abstract and rough draft
    • March 30 Good Friday – No Class
    • April 2 Easter Monday – No Class 
    • April 4 Research Paper Due; Selected Poems (via moodle), hosted by 
    • April 6 Feminism Today (readings via moodle), hosted by  
    • April 9 Feminism Today, hosted by
    • April 11 Mini Conference
    • April 13 Mini Conference
    • April 16  Review Class

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