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Writing Women, Part 1

ENGL 1330.401
also offered as: GSWS 1330
Wednesday 3:30-6:29pm


This is a sophomore-level course, designed for newly declared English majors, students who are considering majoring in English, and students who are curious about the literary and social history of women’s writing between 1660 and 1700.

We’ll survey the work of influential writers of the time period who identified as female, and add a few texts by men writing about women. The course emphasizes primary material. We will read both modern editions and authentic early print texts. Our reading will include poetry, drama, prose fiction, personal memoirs, letters, and expository prose.

We’ll consider how women's writing participated in the many worlds from which women were excluded — the worlds of inherited literary tradition, formal education, commerce, religious debate, and contemporary politics, to name a few. We’ll look closely at how women wrote about the subjects they were assumed to know best --personal piety, child-raising, marriage, housekeeping -- and about the perception of their peculiar expertise in these subjects. We’ll consider how female writers participated, often obliquely, in conversations to which they were not invited to contribute.

The course focuses on authors resident in “Great Britain” (a national entity still under development during this time, as we shall see) between the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the turn of the eighteenth century. Another course, the second half of ENGL 1330, focuses on 1700-1790. That course will be next offered in Spring, 2022. Students may take one or both of these stand-alone courses.


fulfills requirements