Women and Culture: Course Information

Literary history often portrays women as victims, confining their power to the islands of classical witches and the attics of Romantic madwomen. This course offers a revisionist response to such constraints of canonicity, especially as they pertain to the marginalization of female subjectivity in literature and culture. We will therefore explore a more diversified range of intellectual and experiential possibilities. The curriculum challenges traditional dichotomies - culture/nature, logos/pathos, mind/body - that cast gender as an essential attribute rather than a cultural construction.

Syllabus: Fall Semester

I. Myths of Origins

  • Genesis
  • Hymn to Demeter

II. Greece and Rome

  • Aeschylus, Oresteia
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses

III. The Middle Ages

  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (selected tales)
  • Marie de France, Lais (selected tales)

IV. Early Modernity

  • Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book
  • Fairy Tales:
    • Madame d'Aulnoy, "The White Cat"
    • Madame Le Prince de Beaumont, "Beauty and the Beast"
    • Charles Perrault, "The Sleeping Beauty
  • Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, selected poetry

V. The Renaissance

  • Shakespeare Resource Collection

VI. Restoration - 18th Century

  • Aphra Behn, The Rover
  • Lady Hyegyong, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong


Syllabus: Spring Semester

I. Reformation

  • Genesis
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost

II. Enlightenment

  • Eliza Haywood, stories
  • Madame de Lafayette, La Princesse de Cleves
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman

III. Romanticism

  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  • Emily Dickinson, selected poetry

IV. Theoretical Modernism

  • Sigmund Freud, essays
  • Modernism Resources
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"
  • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class
  • E. T. A. Hoffman, "The Sandman"

V. Literary Modernism

  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Gertrude Stein, Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights

VI. Contemporary Cultures

  • Bessie Head, When Rainclouds Gather