Survey of women's literary tradition in English. Focuses on the ways women have written, read, written about, and been represented in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Cross-listed with: GSWS 1630.
Open to Degree and PACE students
Of what value is the exploration of women in literature as a subject of academic study? Based on ideas relating to socio-political gender construction, we might ask further, how the subordination of women connects to notions of justice and equity. Using the lens of Feminist Theory, according to Indian scholar, Reicha Tanwar’s characterizations of this framework of thinking and academic analysis, our study of Women in Literature will primarily capitalize on the following four components that have played major roles in formulations of feminist theory and its practice, focusing on explorations of first, stories of women’s subordination in society as represented in the literature written by women. Second, based on the course’s required texts that serve as our case studies, we will examine the causes of women’s subordination as represented in our course tests. Similarly, a third point is that we will study the consequences of such subordination on the individual’s experience of life. A fourth point of our inquiry is that we will explore possible methods for liberating women from their socio-economic, and political subordination. Furthermore, we will also address gender construction and gender equity, beyond the binary masculine/feminine identities. In addition to our study of Feminist theory and its application to the course’s selected texts, the course introduces students to Jacques Derrida’s Deconstructionist Theory and its application as tools for gaining a deeper understanding of the complex questions that the writing suggests for the reader. Moreover, our exploration of the consequences of women’s subordination in their individual and collective social contexts will be based on modern Psychoanalytic Theory and its application, based on Sigmund Freud’s theory. Please note that I am aware of recent debates, discrediting Freudian theory in the field of psychoanalysis. Nevertheless, some of our texts were produced prior to current updates in psychology as a knowledge field, and literary scholars tended to read these works, in part, from the Freudian perspective as one of the best approaches to them. Also, please be aware that the protagonist of A Question of Power lost her husband to a man. Her self-analysis in this autobiographical novel has sections that are homophobic; even as they are passages that are also racist, and sexist toward Indigenous Africans and toward some Europeans who populate this novel. The course is divided into three units, each being four weeks in duration, focusing on the study of one novel, and the historical; as well as the intellectual contexts of that novel’s production and reception. Unit One will examine correlates between a biracial South African author’s exploration of placelessness; and a young African American poet’s representation of identity. Thus, this first course unit is on the study of two texts. We will use the iterative learning approach, repeating processes used for Unit One in both Units Two and Three. Student discussion (written and oral) is a key expectation of learning procedures as is each student’s integration of their main course takeaways through an instructor-guided final 10-page research essay. Our rigorous learning journey should be challenging and great fun!
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