This course will examine the historical, cultural, and political significance of nineteenth-century women’s writing, focusing on the ways in which the nineteenth-century women’s movement extended to and was driven by the realm of literature. In this period of increasing interest and participation in women’s issues, literature inevitably reflected and affected great change; at the end of the century, the New Woman novel in particular emerged as a highly politicized form of literature, directly challenging social institutions at the core of Victorian society. This shift in the construction and purpose of literature from attempting to represent "reality" to offering solutions to social problems occurred, this course will contend, as a direct result of the women’s movement. Over the course of the semester, we will study the works of women writers, tracing the power of literature to influence politics, culture, and contemporary thought. Course requirements include two essays, a presentation, a final exam, and lively participation.