English 185A - Spring, 2015

Women's Writing I

Class Information

Instructor: Johns, Alessa
Time: TR 10:30-11:50
Location: 207 Olson


    In this course we will begin with Jane Austen and then study the British women writers who were her precursors, including Mary Astell, Eliza Haywood, Mary Wortley Montagu, and Mary Wollstonecraft. We will consider a number of genres—short and long prose fiction, poetry, letters, travel writing, polemic—and we will address issues arising at a time of huge increases in women’s participation in the literary marketplace. How did women contribute to the “rise of the novel”? How can we compare men’s and women’s literary production in this period? Can we talk about a women’s aesthetic? Which writers were early feminists, which ones were not, and what forms did their political views take? What did Victorian women writers learn from them? What, in general, was the social, cultural, economic, and historical impact of their work?


    Grades will be based on quizzes and in-class assignments (15%), two papers (40%), a midterm (15%), a final (15%), and attendance/participation (15%).


    Emma, Jane Austen
    A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Mary Astell
    Fantomina, Eliza Haywood
    Turkish Embassy Letters (excerpts), Mary Wortley Montagu
    Millenium Hall, Sarah Scott
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (excerpts), Mary Wollstonecraft
    Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (excerpts), Anna Jameson
    Lady Susan, Jane Austen
    Eighteenth-Century Women Poets, ed. Roger Lonsdale