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ENGL 368 A: Women Writers

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
* *
Sydney Kaplan
Sydney Kaplan

Syllabus Description:

 English 368:  Women Writers:  A Room of One’s Own: British Women Writers from Charlotte Bronte to Zadie Smith

Professor Sydney Kaplan      Office Hours:  By Appointment

email:         Class Zoom Code:  946 9134 5219


Virginia Woolf’s feminist treatise on women and writing, A Room of One’s Own, appeared in 1929, and would later influence the development of feminist literary criticism during the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement in the 1960s and 70s.  In this course we will return to Woolf’s text and consider it in relation to the historical situation of women in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, paying attention to such issues as the struggle for women’s suffrage, the impact of the First World War, and the breakdown of the British Empire.  The reading will include a classic Victorian novel:  Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte; twentieth century fiction:  Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories; Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner; and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.  We then will take up Woolf’s predictions in A Room of One’s Own about what kinds of fiction women will write in the future and finish with a contemporary novel:  NW by Zadie Smith.


The course will be conducted synchronously on Zoom. Attendance is important as each student will be expected to participate fully in discussion and to contribute ideas and information based on individual analyses of aspects of the texts.   Although there will be brief lectures, this class depends primarily on class discussion.  If it is to be effective, each student must participate actively in it.  To this end, you will need to write three questions (at least one paragraph each) based on that day’s assigned reading.  These should be sent to me as a Word attachment (by email to before the beginning of class each day.  You may be called upon to read one of your questions to the class and explain why it concerned you. I will keep a file of your questions and give you a grade on them at the end of the quarter.)   At least 60 percent of your grade will be based on the quality of your written questions and your participation in class discussion.   In addition to your written questions and participation in discussion, there will be a midterm and a final exam. You will be tested on your understanding of the texts and your ability to incorporate concepts from the lectures and class discussion into your analysis.


Syllabus  (provisional)

Week I. (March 30 & April 1) 
             Tuesday: Introduction to Class 
             Thursday: Charlotte Bronte:   Jane Eyre, (first third)      

Week 2  (April 6 &8)
              Tuesday:   Bronte (second third)
             Thursday:  Bronte (conclusion)

Week 3  (April 13 & 15)

Tuesday:  Katherine Mansfield: “The Tiredness of Rosabel,” “The Little Governess,” “Pictures”
                              Letter to Sylvia Payne, pp. 315-16            

Thursday:  Mansfield:  “The Doll’s House,” “The Garden Party,” “Bliss,”    

Week 4 (April 20 & 22)

            Tuesday: “Prelude,” “At the Bay” Letter to Dorothy Brett, pp 321-2; Kaplan: ”Sex
                              Danger, Freedom” pp. 386-92.

             Thursday. “The Man Without a Temperament”, “Life of Ma Parker”, "The Fly"


Week 5 (April 27 & 29)

            Tuesday:  Sylvia Townsend Warner:  Lolly Willowes  (Parts One & Two))
              Thursday:  Warner (Part Three)  MIDTERM EXAM due before class on Tuesday.   

Week 6 (May 4 & 6)

            Tuesday: Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse:  sections 1-5            
              Thursday:  Woolf, “The Window” sections  6-16

Week 7 (May 11 & 13)

Tuesday:  Woolf, “The Window, sections 17-19                                                             
Thursday:  Woolf, “Time Passes” and “The Lighthouse”         

Week 8 (May 18 & 20)

            Tuesday: A Room of One’s Own     chapters 1-3       
             Thursday: Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, chapters 4-6
Week 9 (May 25 & 27)

 Tuesday:  Zadie Smith, NW,
              Thursday:  Smith,

Week 10 (June 1 & 3)
            Tuesday:  Smith,
            Thursday:  Summing Up:  FINAL EXA


Catalog Description: 
Investigates how perceptions of "woman writer" shape understandings of women's literary works and the forms in which they compose. Examines texts by women writers with attention to sociocultural, economic, and political context. Considers gender as a form of social difference as well as power relationships structured around gender inequality.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
January 14, 2021 - 5:40am