In the latter half of the 20th century, women writers in America have incorporated the conflicts registered by the women's movement into their writing practices in both narrative and stylistic literary innovations. Questions of difference between the genders and, in many cases, between racial or ethnic groups have provided these writers with the opportunity to explore both philosophical conflicts within feminism and the stylistic repercussions of developing a specifically female writing voice. We will use as models for interpretation feminist critical theory emerging in the United States, France, and Britain in the theories of Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous, Toril Moi, and Judith Butler. We will also read novels by Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Marilynne Robinson; stories by Flannery O'Connor; and the poetry of Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Class requirements will include two exams, a short paper, and a lengthier research project.
Note: This course is ideal for majors concentrating in "women & literature" and/or gender studies, as well as, of course, for those concentrating in the 20th century or American 20th-century literature as a period. With permission for faculty advisor, it may also be used by those concentrating in literary theory.