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Feminist Mythstories

ENGL 592.401
crosslisted as: Women's Studies 593
instructor(s):
W 12-3

This course addresses feminist critiques and rewritings of patriarchal mythologies.  The popular culture form of the fairy tale, in particular, has been a site of extensive feminist revision.  Traditional fairy tales (such as those by Andersen and the brothers Grimm) construct gender categories that identify women with children, thus infantilizing the feminine subject and erasing her sexuality.  In the twentieth century, these stories begin circulating to a wide readership of children, thus making such gender categories normative. Mechanisms for disseminating these categories range from the nuclear family to the Disney film industry.   

We will begin to critique the fairy tale tradition by reading Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's *The Madwoman in the Attic*.  We will then read a selection of nineteenth-century fairy tales, paying particular attention to the synecdoches that represent women, such as the Rose in "The Beauty and the Beast," or the footless dancer in "The Red Shoes." Finally, we will turn to feminist revisions of the fairy tale tradition in the works of Angela Carter, Jeannette Winterson, and contemporary women poets.  Requirements include two ten-page papers and a one-page presentation.