E 314L • Reading Women Writers
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
This course is designed to introduce students to the methods, issues, and debates they are likely to encounter as English majors. Students will be expected to write frequently to improve their critical and analytical skills. We will concentrate our efforts on novels and short stories written by nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and American women authors. While we will approach these texts from various analytical angles, we will continually question what it means to be "Reading Women Writers."
Asked to speak on the subject of "Women as Writers" Sylvia Townsend Warner wonders: "Supposing I had been a man, a gentleman novelist, would I have been asked to lecture on Men as Writers? I thought it improbable. Here was an implication I might nor might not resent. Here, at any rate, was an obligation I could not dodge." We will consider the obligation that this course meets: how does reading women writers change one's understanding of the discipline at large; how does it effect our understandings of the canon; how does it change the readings of individual texts? To this end we will begin by reading women's own thoughts on women's writing, to help to frame the historical and cultural considerations we will bring to bear on the fictional texts.
The fictional texts have been selected to help us consider the diversity of the category of "women writers." While they span a relatively short historical time frame of about 100 years (from 1890s to the 1990s), the authors differ in national, race, class, and sexual identities. As we explore how gender affects formal, historical and cultural readings, we will also be questioning any coherence of "women writers." Issues including colonization, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality will inform our readings and discussions as students learn various approaches to the study and definition of a literary field.
Students will write weekly short reading journals, and two formal papers; the last of which will have a research component.
Participation/Presentations: 10%, Weekly Journal Response: 10%, Two short reaction papers: 20%, Midterm Paper: 20%, Final Paper: 30%
The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Lolly Willowes; or, The Loving Huntsman, Sylvia Townsend Warner
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Passing, Nella Larsen
Selected Short Stories, Marita Bonner
Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros