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Women and Literature: Contemporary Fiction

ENGL 090.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

This course will cover a wide range of fiction by contemporary women writers from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. The first part of the course will explore several versions of the "mad woman in the attic" motif and consider the effects of patriarchal oppression in several different cultural contexts. The second part of the course will take a more optimistic turn and focus on various forms of resistance and creative self-affirmation. We will consider feminist revisions of received traditions and narrative forms, e.g., the Bible; fairy tales and legends; magic and other marginalized forms of knowledge; official and unofficial versions of history; and the politics of textual interpretation. Readings will include: Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing; Jean Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea; Tsisti Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions; Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon; Louise Erdrich, Tracks; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior; Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; and Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. We will also view a few films, including Sugar Cane Alley, The Official Story, and Bend it Like Beckham. All interested Penn students are welcome in this course, irrespective of gender, age, and major. All that is required is a taste for good contemporary fiction, a willingness to work on your writing, and to get up a little early on Tuesdays and Thursdays.