20th Century American Women Writers
English 242 D: 20th Century American Women Writers
Instructor: Rachel Graf
The choice to organize works of literature by the gender of their author - be it in the form of an anthology, a university course, or a Wikipedia page* - is rightly a controversial one. Despite the goal of bringing attention to writers who might otherwise be excluded solely on the basis of their gender, "women writers" collections risk essentializing certain themes, characters and narrative structures as feminine.
In this course we will unpack our assumptions of women's literature. We will explore issues of audience, subjectivity and representativeness. You'll notice that the titles of each of the course novels suggest the traditionally feminine sphere of homes and family. This will be our starting point: what is the domain of American women in the past century? Can women writers gain equal recognition to their male counterparts with or without invoking gender?
Edith Wharton - House of Mirth
Willa Cather - The Professor's House
Marilynne Robinson - Housekeeping
Octavia Butler - Kindred
Additional Readings via coursepacket