Women and Culture

“Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction—is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. “ Adrienne Rich, “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.”

This course offers a revisionist response to the constraints of "the canon," wherein women are often portrayed as peripheral characters, their power confined to the islands of classical witches and the attics of Romantic madwomen. The Women and Culture curriculum challenges traditional dichotomies that cast gender as an essential attribute rather than a cultural construction, and interrogates the categories of both "woman" and "culture" themselves. No two syllabi are exactly the same, but works studied in the fall term readings include Hymn to Demeter; Ovid, Metamorphoses; Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book; Marie de France, LaisKebra Negast; Shakespeare, sonnets; Beauty and the BeastWest African Bride Myth; and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, selected poetry. Spring term readings include Milton, Paradise Lost; Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Luisa Valenzuela, selected stories; Eliza Haywood, Fantomine; Lady Hyegyong, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Emily Dickinson, selected poetry; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway or A Room of One's Own; Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother's Gardens ; and Yvette Christiansë, Castaway. Critical scholarship sources include Sara Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldua, Judith Butler, Laura Mulvey, and Michel Foucault.