Spring 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Smith, Erin
Discipline and Number
HUSL 6372 Section 001
W Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
American Women Writers

Description of Course:

This course is both an historical survey of American women’s writing from the early Republic to the present and a critical consideration of the place of these texts in the American literary tradition. We will discuss how gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and class have influenced access to education and the literary marketplace. We will examine the creation of an American canon in the 1940s and 1950s that excluded most women writers and the “rediscovery” of many of these authors by feminist critics in the 1970s and 1980s. Topics include: the rise of the novel, best-selling 19th-century sentimental fiction, gender and notions of genius, local color writing, proletarian fiction and other “political” writing, the creation of cultural hierarchies (“Literature,” bestsellers, “trash”), the significance of national literary traditions, and the connections between book publication and other media (magazines, radio, film, and television).

Required Texts:


Hannah Foster, The Coquette (1797)
Catherine Maria Sedgwick, Hope Leslie (1827)
E.D.E.N. Southworth, The Hidden Hand (1859)
Sarah Orne Jewett, Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)
Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899)
Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenements (1923)
Willa Cather, The Professor’s House (1925)
Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928)
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood (1936)
Tereska Torres, Women’s Barracks(1950)
Maxine Hong Kingston, China Men (1980)
Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine (1984, 1993)
Julia Alvarez, In the Name of Salome (2000)
A “Chick Lit” title of your own choosing

Secondary Readings by: Nina Baym, Cathy Davidson, Jane Tompkins, Gloria Anzaldua, Janice Radway, Hazel Carby, Richard Brodhead, Barbara Foley, Mary Dearborn, Nan Enstad, Paul Lauter, Henry Louis Gates, Susan Willis, and others.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

seminar preparation and participation, class presentation, book review (5 pages)and presentation, final project (conference abstract and conference paper, 20 min. conference presentation)

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