Erin E Gayton
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.
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.
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.