English 525: Women in Literature
T-Th 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Eisenhower 021
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: English/Counseling Services Bldg. 103
Office Hours: Tues. and Thurs. 4:00-5:00 p.m. & by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours: philnel@ksu.edu
Website: www.ksu.edu/english/nelp/
Syllabus last updated on Sunday, October 17, 2004.
Paper Assignment | Bulletin board

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Required Texts:


        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 gendered as masculine. Issues we will explore include:

In order to foster these goals, you will write a paper, take quizzes and exams, make regular postings to the electronic bulletin board, and participate in class discussions. In this class, education will not be a passive experience: I expect discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas. This requires that you not only be present but that you be an active presence.





100 (total for all quizzes)   

In class, day reading is due.

Class Participation &   



Electronic Bulletin Board    


Midterm Exam


In class, 10/21.



At the beginning of class, 12/7.

Final Exam


In class: 9:40 -11:30 a.m., 12/16.




        The paper must: be typed (preferably word-processed) and double-spaced; include a title, your name, and the date; and have numbered pages that are stapled or paper-clipped together. Late papers will be penalized one grade (e.g., B+ to C+) for each day late.
        Sources: Use the MLA method for documenting sources. And don't plagiarize. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources -- most grammar handbooks provide guidelines for documentation. Always remember: you must cite the sources of any ideas that are not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. If you have any questions, please ask. If you plagiarize, you will automatically fail this course. For more information on Kansas State University's Honor System, please visit <www.ksu.edu/honor>.
        Approximately 12 times during the semester, there'll be a quiz. Sometimes the quiz will be announced, and sometimes it won't. But it will always address the reading for that day. Because everyone can have a bad day, I'll drop the lowest quiz grade.
        Class Participation and Attendance:
        Read everything, and come to class prepared to talk about what you have read. On the first day of class discussion for each assignment, you must have finished the reading and be ready to discuss it. By "the reading," I mean all of the text assigned for that day. This class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected, and will count for 20% of your final grade. Discussion will take place both in class, and out of it, via the Electronic Bulletin Board (explained below). I reserve the right to assign homework or in-class writing projects that are not listed on the syllabus.
        Class attendance is required. Since the class meets twice a week, you are granted two absences, but more than two will lower your final grade by one grade increment for each absence (e.g., B+ would become B). I appreciate your offering explanations for absences; however, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from the dean. You cannot earn credit for work missed in class. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to discover what went on that day. "I didn't know because I wasn't in class" is never an acceptable excuse.
        Computing -- the Internet, the Electronic Bulletin Board, and Email:
        You will also be asked to participate in an Electronic Bulletin Board. Our work with computers is designed not only as another forum for discussing our reading, but as a way for you to sharpen your communication skills, media skills, and web skills for an increasingly technological age.
        The Internet: For your reference, a hyperlinked version of this syllabus is on-line. Go to <www.ksu.edu/english/nelp/> and click on "Courses." I have linked authors' names to relevant webpages, listed web and library resources, and I plan to provide a link to the paper assignment.
        Electronic Bulletin Board: Post comments to the bulletin board at least once every two weeks. An average posting should run about one or two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings do not need to be long, but they must be substantive -- long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness to both our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the bulletin board.
        How to use the bulletin board:
    1. Click on this sentence. If you receive a message like "Authorization Failed. Retry?" then click on "Retry."
    2. A window will pop up, asking for your username. Type engl525. Be sure to use all lower-case letters. Next, type in the password that I gave you in class.
    3. To see all the messages posted to date starting with the newest ones first, click on "Preferences" and set the options to "12 months" and "Mixed Threaded, Reversed." Click on the "View Messages Index" button. You should be able to see all the messages posted to the threaded bulletin board. (If a grey box pops up with the title "Security Information," just click "OK.")
    4. To post, choose to reply to a message or to post a new message. You will have to enter your name, your email address, and the subject of the message. You can preview your message before sending it; then, click "Post Message."

        Email: My email address is philnel@ksu.edu. If you need help establishing an email account and learning to use email, please visit the Office of Telecommunications at 109 East Stadium or <www.telecom.ksu.edu/> to find out what you have to do. Although I do not require you to use email, I encourage you to use email as a way of touching base with me. You can write me with questions, send a thesis statement or outline for an essay, make an appointment to meet me in person, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I tend to check email several times a day, but please keep in mind that I am not on-line at all times. You can access email at the various computer labs around campus: 21 Nichols Hall, 22-25 Seaton Hall, 1-1A Dickens Hall, and 325 Justin Hall and in some residence halls (visit <http://rescomp.ksu.edu/info.htm> for more details about resident hall labs).

Schedule of Assignments
Subject to Change
[W] = Web. [CP] = Class Pack. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library). [F] = Film.
Note: "through" means "to the end of" (not "up to"). Page numbers refer to the editions assigned.
August Th 19 Introduction. Sir Philip Sidney, sonnet 1 from Astrophil and Stella (1591); William Shakespeare, sonnet no. 18 (1609); Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress" (1681); Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "The Lover: A Ballad" (c. 1721-25). [All passed out in class.]
Tu 24 Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) [CP]
Th 26

Swift, "The Lady's Dressing Room" (1732); Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "The Reasons that Induced Dr. S. to write a Poem called 'The Lady's Dressing Room'" (1734); Gilbert and Gubar, Madwoman in the Attic (1979), Ch. 1 [all CP]
Tu 31 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929); Adrienne Rich, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision" (1971) [both CP].
Coming of Age
September Th 2 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908), through Chapter 15.
Tu 7 Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, through Chapter 26
Th 9 Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, to end.
Tu 14 Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land (1996), through Chapter 8 (p. 165).
Th 16 Jen, Mona in the Promised Land, to end.
Tu 21 Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), to p. 149.
Th 23 Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, to end.
Tu 28 Margaret Atwood, Handmaid's Tale (1985), through Part VII (p. 106).
Th 30 Atwood, Handmaid's Tale, through Part XI (p. 195)
October Tu 5 Atwood, Handmaid's Tale, to end.
Th 7 Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (2003).
Tu 12 University Holiday
Th 14 Jane Yolen, Briar Rose (1992), through Ch. 19 (p. 106).
Tu 19 Yolen, Briar Rose, to end.
Th 21 Midterm Exam. Click on this sentence to see the exam format. If interested, consider taking The Vark Questionnaire to see how you learn.
Identity and the Body
Tu 26 Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak (1999), to end.
Th 28 Anderson, Speak
November Tu 2 Francesca Lia Block, Weetzie Bat (1989).
Th 5 Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body (1992), to p. 96.
Tu 9 Winterson, Written on the Body, to end.
Th 11 Jan Eliot, Stone Soup: The Comic Strip (2001).
Tu 16 Gloria Naylor, Mama Day (1988), to p. 107.
Th 18 Naylor, Mama Day, to p. 217.
Tu 23 Naylor, Mama Day, to end.
Th 25 Thanksgiving: University Holiday.
Tu 30 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(1999), through Chapter 8 (p. 161).
December Th 2 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, through Chapter 14 (p. 290).
Tu 7 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, to end. Paper DUE in class.
Th 9 Conclusion and Review.
Th 16 Final Exam, 9:40 to 11:30 a.m. You must take the final exam on the day and at the time scheduled. NO EXCEPTIONS. MARK YOUR CALENDARS.

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This page was last updated on Sunday, October 17, 2004