English 590: Feminist Theory and Gender Studies
This course will examine debates from feminist theory and gender
studies that offer some insight into the ways that gender has left its
mark on literary history and culture. We will also actively engage with
the questions facing feminist theory and womenís studies about the nature
and possibility of the category "women."
Virgina Woolf, A Room of One'sOwn
Toril Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics
Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, ed.
Warhol & Price-Herndl
Toni Morrison, Sula
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1
Frances Burney, Evelina
differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (Women's
Studies on the Edge, Fall 1997)
Framing the Questions
25 Introduction: Scott, "Women's Studies on the Edge: Introduction"
and Yee, "The 'Women' in Women's Studies,"(differences). Some on-line essays
that pursue similar questions include:
30 Woolf, A Room of One'sOwn
1 A Room of One'sOwn, Alice Walker, "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens,"
** Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics,introduction, The Body Beautiful
6 LABOR DAY--NO CLASS
8 Moi, ch. 1-3, Gilbert and Gubar, "Infection in the Sentence," (F)
Feminism and/vs. Psychoanalysis
13 Moi, ch. 4, 5 Lacan from Feminine Sexuality,**
15 Lacan cont., Start Sula
Lacan can be a challenge. The following sites may help
20 Sula, (Toni
Morrison) Cixous, "Laugh of the Medusa," (F), Moi ch. 6.
22 Kristeva, "Women's Time," (F) Moi ch. 8.
27 Irigaray, "This Sex Which is not One," (F) Moi ch. 7. Pope
and Swift poems, Salvaggio from
29 Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," (F) and "Afterthoughts"**.
A brief collection of links regarding Irigaray.
studies perspective on Mulvey and the techniques of the cinematic look.
4 Film TBA, Humm from Feminism and Film**.
6 Frankenstein, Sedgwick from Between Men (F).
11 Frankenstein, Collings, "The Monster and the Imaginary Mother."
13 Auslander, "Do Women's + Feminist + Men's + Lesbian and Gay + Queer
Studies = Gender Studies?" (differences) Butler, Gender
Trouble, ch. 1.
18 Butler, Gender Trouble, ch. 2-3.(Judith
20 Butler, Gender Trouble and responses from The Psychic Life
of Power, ** Garber, "Cross Dressing, Gender, and Representation: Elvis
Take a look at this very informative interview
with Butler on gender, sex, and feminism. The page also has excellent
25 Belsey, "Constructing the Subject," (F) Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category
of Historical Analysis"**
27 Foucault, The History of Sexuality , vol. 1.
1 Foucault, History
of Sexuality cont., Fielding, The Female Husband**
3 Finish History of Sexuality, Fordyce, Gisborne, and
Burney "Directions" excerpts (Evelina)
8 Evelina ,Newton, "Power and 'The Woman's Sphere,'" (F) excerpt
from Pateman, The Sexual Contract.**
10 Evelina,Armstrong, "Some Call it Fiction" (F)
15 Evelina,McKeon, "Historicizing Patriarchy" **
Class, Race, Nation
17 Donna Haraway, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs."**
22 Hennessey, "The Materiality of Discourse: Feminism and Post-Marxism."**
24 Barbara Smith "The Truth That Never Hurts: Black Lesbians in Fiction
in the 1980's" (F) Elizabeth Abel, "Black Writing, White Reading: Race
and the Politics of Feminist Interpretation." (F) Morrison, "Recitatif"**
29 Spivak, "Three Womenís Texts and a Critique of Imperialism." (F)
1 Mohanty, "What's Home Got to Do With It?" Sanchez, "Discourses
of Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in Chicano Literature." (F)
6 Brown, "The Impossibility of Women's Studies," Martin, "Success and
Its Failures" (differences)
8 "The Edge. Interview" (differences)
The work that we will do together this semester depends on your active
contribution to the class. Participating in class means showing up on time,
being prepared to discuss the reading, and being willing to take part in
class activities. I canít stress enough how important your participation
is to your grade. As part of your class participation, I encourage
you to bring in items from newspapers, issues from other books you are
reading, or images from popular culture that relate to the course materials.
Weíll reserve a few minutes at the beginning of every class for this exchange
The response papers may address any selection from the reading and any
points from class discussion. The goal of the response is to explore an
idea or text that interested you. These short, two-page papers will give
you a chance to make a more composed response to the material and also
help you feel your way toward a final paper topic. The final paper will
be a place to synthesize ideas from the course and determine what you found
most helpful in the range of theories we will survey. You will need to
prepare a prospectus for the final paper and seek out at least one professional
conference where you would like to present your work. Weíll discuss the
paper in more detail as the end of the semester approaches, but my hope
is that we can organize a small "mini-conference" at the end of the semester,
a plan which is contingent on the size of the class.
To get you started on the first response paper, you might want to consider
your own working definition of feminism and how that comes to bear on literature
or writing about literature in your academic career. Examine some of the
moments in texts from the first unit of the course that support your definition,
as well as some that complicate your definition or simply donít fit it.
We will choose a film to study in September as a class. While I want
to make sure that we have a sound project at hand, I am very interested
in the films, past or current, that you find most relevant to issues of
gender and sexuality.
Breakdown of the grading system:
Class participation: 30%
Reading responses: 40%
The following sites offer various kinds of information, all of which have
the potential to be helpful. The content on these sites varies from time
to time, so please let me know if you encounter technical problems or content