E 314L • Reading Women Writers--Plan I Honors
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Women were not admitted to British universities until the late nineteenth century, and from the Middle Ages forward the question of whether or not women should have access to literacy and education was a central cultural concern. Nonetheless, throughout British literary history women have found ways to read and write, shaping the history of English literature in important ways. In this course, we will examine the work of women writers from the Middle Ages to the present. We will ask how their work contributed to and critiqued the emerging genres that were to characterize English literature (non-fiction prose, poetry, fiction, and drama), to what degree their work intervenes in the debate about women's education, and whether texts by women constitute a "tradition" of their own or whether they comment on or enlarge the better-known tradition of writing by men.
Because this course is an introduction to literary study, students will be asked to write frequently in order to sharpen their skills as readers and critics. Our emphasis will be on acquiring the critical skills and vocabulary that enable us to comment on the ways language works in literature. Students can expect to finish the course with improved writing and critical reading skills, with the ability to identify and analyze figurative and rhetorical language, with working definitions of the conventions by which different literary genres are defined, and with some knowledge of the broad history of British literature. In addition, they will begin to acquire the skills of cultural analysis that allow us to understand the ways in which form shapes ideology, and the ways in which gender has played a role in determining the development of English literary genres.
Three 4-page essays 30%
Mid-term exam 30%
Final 5-6-page paper 25%