Women in literature

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Why should we study women and literature? What, if anything, distinguishes female writers from male writers, female protagonists from male protagonists, feminine language from masculine language? This course is a study, intended for women and men, of the tradition of literature by women and its relationship to movements and periods of the mainstream male-dominated canon. Begun by students at BMCC, New York City, Spring 2008.

Textbook[edit | edit source]

The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English, by Susan Gubar and Sandra M. Gilbert. Page numbers are from the 3rd edition in two volumes.

Instructions[edit | edit source]

Homework can be completed here each week. First, after each class, you will formulate a question branching off from the discussion that day and read at least 10 pages of other literature not assigned or critical essays addressing that question. You might choose other works by authors discussed in class or works on similar subjects by male writers. Write and post a paragraph or more responding to your findings, on a new page if necessary, and place a link to that page on that week's discussion so that your classmates can see it and comment on it. Read and comment on classmates' work.

Your second weekly assignment is to write down a discussion question for the assigned reading for the upcoming day of class. This question can deal with one text or the relationship between several texts. Post that discussion question on the next week's discussion before class.

Your final paper should be written or posted in drafts on a page of your own, linked to the pages of the authors it concerns and to the main page here. Name the page as a subpage of this page.

Syllabus[edit | edit source]

Week 1: Virginia Woolf: “A Room of One’s Own”; Anne Bradstreet: “The Author to her Book”

Week 2: Marie de France: “Yonec”, “Bisclavret”; Margery Kempe: Chapters 3, 4, 11

Week 3: (Vol. 1) Cavendish: "The Poetess' Hasty Resolution" (160); Killigrew, "Upon the Saying That My Verses Were Made by Another" (234); Astell, "Ambition" (262); Dickinson: “441-This is my Letter to the World" (1055), "508-I'm ceded-I've stopped being Theirs" (1047), "613-They shut me up in Prose" (1052), "709-Publication is the Auction" (1062)

Week 4: (Vol. 1) Lanyer: “Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women” (42); Rossetti: “Goblin Market” (1089), “Eve” (1101); Fuller: “Muse and Minerva” (564); Julian of Norwich: “God the Mother” (41); Burney: "The Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay" (242)

Week 5: (Vol. 2) Stein: “Ada” (165); Loy: “Gertrude Stein” (250); Smith: “Souvenir de Monsieur Poop” (582); Rich: “Diving Into the Wreck” (970); Plath: “Disquieting Muses” (1047); Walker: “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” (1296); Brown: “Forgiveness” (1432)

Week 6: (Vol. 1) More: from “The Gin Shop” (324); Wheatley: “On Being Brought” (359); Wollstonecraft: “Introduction” (373); Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?” (510); Wordsworth: from the "Grasmere Journals" (319)

Week 7: (Vol. 1) Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre (636)

Week 8: Midterm exam, Jane Eyre continued

Week 9: (Vol. 1) Kate Chopin: The Awakening (1253)

Week 10: (Vol. 1) Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1392); Emily Dickinson: “280-I felt a funeral in my brain” (1047), “1705- Volcanoes be in Sicily” (1067)

Week 11: (Vol. 2) Dinesen: “Blank Page” (276); H.D.: “Eurydice” (285), “Helen” (291); Rukeyser: “The Poem as Mask” (649); Plath: “Mirror” (1050); Rich: from “21 Love Poems” (973); Atwood: “There was once” (1217), “Spelling” (1205); 3-4 rough pages of final paper due

Week 12: (Vol. 2) Porter: “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” (340); Millay: “Women have loved before as I love now” (453); Bonner: "On Being Young--a Woman--and Colored" (524); Walker: “Whores” (721)

Week 13: (Vol. 2) Kingston: “No Name Woman” (1229); Butler: “Bloodchild” (1307); Brooks: “the mother” (781); Nin: “Birth” (588); informal presentations of final papers

Week 14: (Vol. 2) Hurston, "How It Feels to be Colored Me" (357); Angelou: from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (926); Anzaldua: “Tlilli, Tlapalli” (1255); Harjo: “Deer Dancer” (1377); final papers due

Final Papers:[edit | edit source]

(place your last name here with a link to the page for your final paper.)

Useful Links:[edit | edit source]