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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

English (ENGL)

ENGL 490 (US;IL) (WMNST 490) Women Writers and Their Worlds (3) American and British literature written from the perspective of women.

ENGL (WMNST) 490 Women Writers and Their Worlds (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

ENGL/WMNST 490 covers particular aspects of American and British literature written from the perspective of women. The courses stress the diversity of women's authorial worlds, both through time and/or space. The readings and specific focus vary from semester to semester. ENGL/WMNST 490 seeks to make students aware of the extensive body of literature written by women, but, unlike ENGL 194, which is a survey course of women's literature, ENGL/WMNST 490 can be a more intensive course, focusing on selected themes and topics of particular concern to women as reflected in the poetry and fiction of twentieth-century American and British women writers. The class can also be taught in relationship to earlier periods, dealing, for instance, with English women novelists from 1775-1865. In such a class, readings would include fiction by Fanny Burney, Mary Wolistonecraft, Ann Radcliffe, Jane Austen, Mary Shelly, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, and George Eliot. The course would then place each novel in its historical, social, intellectual, and literary context, and explore the various ways in which some of England's best writers transformed their female experience of the world into fiction that extended the range and influenced the development of the novel. Regardless of the particular focus, all sections of the course pose the following questions throughout: Do women use the same myths, archetypes, and literary conventions as male writers? Or do they sometimes have to modify the myths, archetypes, and literary conventions originated by their male precursors in order to adapt them to female experience? Is there such a thing as a distinctively female imagination, with a symbolic language of its own? Is there such a thing as a chain of literary influence linking women writers to each other? What are the strategies for coping with the anxieties of authorship? What is the interaction between gender and genre? In what ways are creativity and procreativity modes of defying prevailing ideologies? Does a woman's psychological development have an effect on the plots a woman novelist conceives? How does women's literature reflect the realities of women's lives? As a course in women's literature, ENGL/WMNST 490 concerns itself with questions of gender. In so far as some of these women writers are black or women of color, it concerns itself with questions of race and ethnicity. In as far as the course looks at women's literature in the context of men's literature, it is concerned with the inter-relationship between dominant (male) and non-dominant (female) culture in the United States as well as in Britain. In so far as the course covers lesbian writers, it is concerned with sexual orientation. Students should expect to complete a minimum of three written assignments in the course, two course papers, and an essay final exam in class. The papers each will ask students to choose a text to analyze in relationship to one of the thematic modules the course has chosen, for instance, to discuss how Virginia Woolf s Mrs. Dalloway analyzes the position of upper-middle class women in a particular moment in history when women had achieved the vote, but were still largely constrained by patriarchal social norms. In addition to written assignments, students will be evaluated on class discussion and general participation. The course not only prepares students for taking up literary and cultural analysis in English classes, but also in any other class that engages in the verbal and written analysis of complex written texts, and in other classes in Women's Studies or in other Penn State departments that address the social, cultural, or ethical issues of gender. The course may be used as English Major elective credit or as credit towards the English Minor; it may also be used in the Women's Studies major and minor. It will be offered once a year with 40 seats per offering.

General Education: None
Diversity: US;IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2005
Prerequisite: ENGL 015 orENGL 030

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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