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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Erin E Gayton
BIS 387
Bothell Campus

Women and American Literature

Study of women writers and the ways women have been portrayed in literary texts. Focuses on certain themes, such as selves and subjectivities, or on writers from specific historical, economic, ethnic, or racial backgrounds.

Class description

This course considers how American women writers have grappled with marriage, work, and intellectual identity. Our work will focus on writers from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, a period of intense political, legal, and ideological change for women. During the nineteenth century, a growing women’s movement pushed for new rights while lawmakers worked to “reform” marriage law without undermining an ideal of female dependency that was central to how many Americans understood gender and a stabile society. Professional women writers from this period were especially aware of tensions between idealized domesticity and paid work, between egalitarian rhetoric and economic reality. This quarter we’ll work with a range of literary responses to these issues. Readings may include novels and short writing by Fanny Fern, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Pauline Hopkins, Sui Sin Far, Mourning Dove, Edith Wharton and others. At the end of the quarter we’ll zoom forward in time to see how Bharati Mukherjee’s novel, Jasmine, extends this conversation about marriage, intellectual identity, and the American dream at the edge of a new century.

Student learning goals

To practice close reading and analysis of textual material

To thoughtfully engage literary texts through reading, discussion, and writing

To better understand the historical and social issues facing American women writers

To practice written literary analysis that responds to and extends our classroom conversations

General method of instruction

Discussion and occasional lectures. Some group work and in-class writing.

Recommended preparation

An interest in reading and talking about books. If you want to get a jump on reading for this course, I'd recommend starting Fanny Fern’s novel _Ruth Hall_.

Class assignments and grading

Come ready to participate in class discussions and our discussion board. Course work will include several short papers and an exam.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Erin E Gayton
Date: 10/13/2009