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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Fall 2008


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
48682 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
PAR 304

Course Description

"Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do&it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex." -Jane Eyre In Jane Eyre, Jane suggests that women cannot be defined by chores and diversions that are traditionally perceived of as feminine. In the post-colonial response to Brontë's novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys Bertha illustrates that conceptions of race are equally impossible to simplify and likewise tied to the assumptions of patriarchal culture, though in a different time and place than Jane Eyre. In E314L, we will examine what makes a popular womens genre and consider how these genres seek to define, complicate and unsettle notions of female identity. We will pay special attention to how these genres represent issues of race and gender, how they reflect ideas of their time but also how they interact with one another despite a historical difference, and how they target specifically female audiences. We will restrict our focus to three genres traditionally conceived of as feminine: the romance (represented by Pride and Prejudice and modern chicklit novel Bridget Jones Diary); the gothic novel (represented by Jane Eyre and responded to in the post-colonial Wide Sargasso Sea); and the sentimental (represented primarily by Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and informed by our earliest text, Oroonoko). In order to engage with contemporary and modern critical responses to these texts, we will consider how they were marketed and received in their own times and how scholars of literature, history, and culture have analyzed them. E314L is a substantial writing component course designed to introduce students to womens literature, and our focus on genre will allow us to consider how gender functions in our interpretation and categorization of literary texts. This class is also designed to introduce students to the English major, though it is not restricted to those pursuing a degree in English. The focus of this class is to enhance your critical writing and reading skills by exposing you to a variety of texts, both primary and secondary. This mixture of primary and secondary sources should allow you to formulate your own arguments about a text while also entering an ongoing critical conversation about the importance of gender and race in these novels.


*Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen *Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding *Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë *Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys *Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs *Oroonoko, Aphra Behn


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