ENGL 336.R01:
Women Writers
Spring, 2000; MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

Schedule of Classes | Web Resources | Bulletin Board

Professor Karin Westman
74 George Street, #101
Office: 953-5658; Office Hours: T, R 12:30 - 2 pm; W 11 am -12 noon; & by app't
Required Texts
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein(1818) (Norton Critical Edition)
Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) (Penguin)
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1907) (Penguin Puffin Classics)
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (Norton Critical Edition)
JeanetteWinterson, The Passion (1987)
Pat Barker, Regeneration (1991)
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (1985) (Anchor Books)
Gloria Naylor, Mama Day (1987)
Class Pack (selected poetry, non-fiction prose, and critical essays; available at SASE Ink, 49 Wentworth Street)
Electronic Reserves [ERes] (a few items available through the library's electronic reserves)
Course Description:
A study of a representative selection of women's fiction, poetry, and drama, focusing on questions of women's styles, preferred genres, and place in the literary tradition. Readings may vary from year to year.
Course Objectives:
In this course we will study how a variety of women authors both respond to and reshape a tradition of literature that has typically been sexed as male and gendered as masculine. Issues we will explore in this course include their choice of themes and genres, the relationship between expectations for women writers and readers and what women wrote and read, the changing social role of the woman author writing for herself and for others across several centuries of cultural change, and the ways that racial, class, and national affiliations affect the production and reception of women writers' works.
Requirements and General Expectations:
Class Participation and Attendance: Class participation is, of course, required. To participate, you must complete the reading assigned for each class session and think carefully about what you have read. Your attendance is therefore important. You will not be penalized for your first three absences; thereafter, your final course grade will drop one grade (i.e., B+ to B) for each day missed. Excessive absences (five or more) may result in failure of the course. While I appreciate your offering explanations for absences, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your dean or an official notice of illness from the Health Center.
Leading Class Discussion: Depending on the number enrolled, students will sign up individually or in pairs to initiate discussion for one of our class sessions. Discussion leaders will encourage us to explore the connections between the secondary readings and our assigned primary reading. In most cases discussion topics are provided below. Students leading discussion should contact me in advance to confirm the focus of their discussion questions.
Papers and Response Papers: You will write two papers, one short (4-5 pp) and one long (8 pp), on topics of your choosing in connection with our readings. The longer paper should incorporate both your own readings of a particular text or theme as well as a certain amount of research; more detailed instructions will be distributed during the semester. Both papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 10- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, and spell-checked. Papers are due by the date and time on the syllabus; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day late.
You will also write seven weekly response papers (2 pp in length) in response to our readings. Response papers are designed to ready you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in your longer papers. They are due the day we discuss the material. In your response paper, you should not repeat previous class discussions or provide a mere summary of the reading. Instead, your response should begin to analyze the reading assigned for that class session, selecting an issue or theme or question you feel to be significant. You can choose when to complete your seven responses, with the following guidelines in mind: 1) you can only write a response for a day when we have reading due, 2) two responses must respond to novels, and 3) you must complete 4 responses before March 3rd (Spring Break) and complete 3 responses after March 3rd (Spring Break). Responses will be graded on a 1-5 scale: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I do not accept late response papers. (Extra credit opportunities will go towards your response paper grade.)
Electronic Bulletin Board: To offer another venue for discussion, we'll start using an electronic bulletin board next week; technical details will follow shortly. Each student should post at least once a week to the bulletin board, responding to an existing thread of the conversation or initiating another; weekly postings will count for 5% of your class participation grade. I'll monitor these conversations, and may also participate, but I see the bulletin board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed--or addressed fully or to your satisfaction--during our regular class meetings. Though extra postings to the bulletin board will not automatically replace participation in our class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can certainly improve your class participation grade.
Grading: The two papers will count for 40% of your final grade (15% and 25% respectively); the response papers will count for 20% of your final grade. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (20%) complete the requirements.

Schedule of Classes

Tradition and the Gendered Talent
January F 14
Introduction: "Tradition and the Gendered Talent" (with apologies
to T.S. Eliot): Sidney, Sonnet #1 ("Loving in Truth,...");
Shakespeare, Sonnet #18 ("Shall I compare thee..."); Marvell,
"To His Coy Mistress"; Lady Mary Wortley Montague, "The
Lover: A Ballad"
M 17
F 21
Mary Wollstonecraft, from Vindication of the Rights of Woman
[ERes/from The Norton Anthology of British Literature, Vol 2]
Selected poems: Anne Bradstreet, Anne Finch, Aphra Behn [CP]
Gilbert and Gubar, from The Madwoman in the Attic [CP]
M 24
Web Assignment (instructions forthcoming) on "Debating Women:
Arguments in Verse"; Jonathan Swift, "The Lady's Dressing
Room"; Montague, "The Reasons that Induced Dr. S. to write a
Poem called The Lady's Dressing Room" [CP]
Novels and Romances: The "Dangers" of the (Female) Imagination
W 26
F 28
Spectator #365; Samuel Johnson, Rambler #4; Clara Reeve, from
The Progress of Romance; Anna Laetitia Aiken Barbauld, from
"On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writing"; Hannah More,
from "Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education"; and
Jane Austen, from Northanger Abbey [CP]
Shelley, Frankenstein (1-77); Veeder, "The Women of
Frankenstein" (271-273)
M 31
W 2
F 4
Shelley, Frankenstein (77-156)
Critical readings on Shelley I: "Preface" to the 1818 edition (5-6);
"Preface" to the 1831 edition (169-173); Mellor, "Choosing a Text
of Frankenstein to Teach" (160-166). (All readings in Norton
Critical edition.)
Discussion #1: A Tale of Two Prefaces and P.B.'s Role:
Editorial Changes from the 1818 Edition to the 1831 Edition of
Critical readings on Shelley II: Moers, "Female Gothic: The
Monster's Mother" (214-224); Poovey, "'My Hideous Progeny':
The Lady and the Monster" (251-256); Mellor, "Possessing
Nature: The Female in Frankenstein" (274-286). (All readings in
Norton Critical edition.)
Discussion #2: Nature or Nurture?: The Status of the
Feminine and the Female in Shelley's Frankenstein
M 7
W 9
F 11
Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (3-185)
Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (186-335)
Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (339-489)
M 14
F 18
Critical readings on Bronte: Langland, from Anne Bronte: The
Other One and Frawley, "'The Fair Unknown': Privacy and
Personhood in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" [CP]
Discussion #3: "Acton Bell is neither Currer nor Ellis Bell":
Telling Tales to Find a Voice
Rossetti, "In an Artist's Studio" and "Goblin Market" [ERes]
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1-192)
M 21
W 23
F 25
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (193-369)
Selection of critical readings on Montgomery: Epperly, Nodelman,
Rubio, MacLulich, and Berg [CP]
Discussion #4: Realism or Romance?: Nature, Culture, and the
Imagination in Anne of Green Gables
No Class -- Read ahead; Paper #1 Due (4-5 pp) to my mailbox
by 5 pm

Taking the Pen in Hand...
M 28
W 1
F 3
Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1-57)
Woolf, A Room of One's Own (58-114)
Woolf, A Room of One's Own; Mary Gordon, "Forward" to
Room (vii-xiv); Adrienne Rich, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing
as Revision" [CP]
Spring Break - March 4th - 12th
M 13
W 15
F 17
Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (9-64)
Wide Sargasso Sea (64-112)
Wide Sargasso Sea; excerpts from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
(119-132 ); excerpts from Rhys' letters & facsimile of mss.
(135-147); and Rody, "Burning Down the House..." (217-225)
(All readings in Norton Critical edition.)
Discussion #5: Wide Sargasso Sea as Rhys' Jane Eyre?
M 20
W 22
F 24
Critical essays by and on Rhys (in Norton Critical edition): Rhys,
"The Bible Is Modern" (148-149); Rhys, from "Black Exercise
Book" (155-156); Emery, from "Modernist Crosscurrents" (161,
168-170); and Drake, "Race and Caribbean Culture..."
Jeanette Winterson, The Passion (3-76)
Winterson, The Passion (79-160)
M 27
W 29
F 31
Critical essays on and by Winterson: from Palmer, "The
Passion: Storytelling, Fantasy, Desire" [X]; Winterson, "A Work
of My Own" [X]
Discussion #6: Critical Essay(s) on Winterson
Pat Barker, Regeneration (3-145)
Barker, Regeneration (149-252)
M 3
W 5
F 7
Barker, Regeneration; reviews of Regeneration [CP]
Discussion #7: Women Writing about War
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (1-106)
No Class -- Read ahead; Prospectus for Paper #2 Due (1-2 pp.)
M 10
W 12
F 14
Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (109-197)
Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (199-311); from "A Reader's
Companion to The Handmaid's Tale" (316-321); reviews/critical
readings of Atwood (forthcoming)
Discussion #8: [Open Topic on The Handmaid's Tale]
Gloria Naylor, Mama Day(1-165)
M 17
W 19
F 21
Naylor, Mama Day (166-312)
Naylor, Mama Day
Selected Poems: Fleur Adcock and Wendy Cope [CP];
Paper #2 Due (8 pp.)
M 24
W 26
Selected poems: Margaret Atwood and Adrienne Rich [CP]
Sa 29 Final Exam, 8 - 11 am


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Last updated 22 March 2000