ENGL 221 - Introduction to Women's Literature

 This course will introduce students to writing by women from its early beginnings in the Middle Ages to the present time. Students will concentrate on close readings of representative works, which register the achievements of women writing for literary fame, artistic expression, religious utterance, economic subsistence, and political resistance. The course engages with various genres and theoretical approaches.


Credits:  3


Hours: 45 (Lecture Hours: 3)


Total Weeks:  3



Any two of ENGL 100, 105, 111, OR 112


Non-Course Prerequisites: 





Course Content:
Students will sample a variety of literary genres that have been especially important to writing women: polemical writings, spiritual autobiographies, conduct manuals, periodicals, poetry, and the novel. By reading and writing about these literatures, students will consider what it meant for women to read, write, and publish at specific moments in history despite their generally inferior status and exclusion from formal education. Gendered positions and constructs will be examined in tandem with ideologies of race, class, and sexuality. Themes examined may include the body, violence, religion, family, government, environment, sexual orientation, and colonization. Discussion will intersect with feminist theories and anti-racist and queer studies.
- Old and Middle English Women’s Writing, 449-1485
   Medieval Letters and Practical Domestic Documents
      Leoba of England and Germany, Letters
      Margery Brews Paston, Letters
   Men’s and Women’s Religious Prose of the Late Middle Ages
      Julian of Norwich, from Showings, The Fifty-Eighth Chapter
      Margery Kempe, from The Book of Margery Kempe
- Renaissance and Early Seventeenth-Century Literature, 1485-1660
   Gender and Lyric Poetry
      Mary Wroth, From Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, Sonnets 1, 9, 25
      Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book”
      Margaret Cavendish, “The Poetess’s Hasty Resolution”; “The Poetess’s Petition”
- Gender and the Querelles Des Femmes
   Rachel Speght, From A Muzzle for Melastomus
- Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Literature, 1660-1800
   The Professionalization of Writing
      Aphra Behn, The Lucky Chance, or an Alderman’s Bargain
      Delarivier Manley, from The New Atlantis
      Eliza Haywood, from The Female Spectator
   Sexuality, Virginity, and Marriage
      Katherine Philips, “To the Excellent Mrs. A. O”; “Friendship’s Mysteries”
      Lady Mary Wortley Montague, “To Lady Bute”
      Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
- Nineteenth-Century Literature, 1800-1900
      Mary Shelley, Introduction to Frankenstein
      Felicia Hemans, The Hebrew Mother
   The Novel
      Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
- Modernist and Contemporary Literature, 1900-present
   Innovative Uses of Language
      Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
   Literary Internationalization: Border Crossings
      Trinh T. Minh-ha, “Not/ Like You: Postcolonial Women and the Interlocking Questions”

      Slavenka Drakulié, “Make-up and Other Crucial Questions"


Learning Outcomes:
The aim of this course is to help students attain the necessary skills to read and to write about women’s literature in an academic manner and to pique interest in women’s literary history and the politics of gender. Students will be expected to
- Challenge themselves by reading works written in Middle and Early Modern English
- Become familiar with canonical works by women from the major literary periods
- See contrasts and resemblances between authors' presentations of themes
- Identify and describe particular genres of literature within their specific historical contexts, including domentic documents, mystics' prose, lyric poetry, polemical pamphlets, romance novellas, and the novel
- Identify women's contributions to the development of these literary genres
- Plan and write well-structured essays that offer close analyses of literary works
- Communicate ideas about literature in WebCT discussion formats


Grading System:  Letters


Passing Grade: D (50%)


Percentage of Individual Work: 100


Textbooks are subject to change.  Please contact the bookstore at your local campus for current book lists.