English 185A - Fall, 2016

Women's Writing I

Class Information

Instructor: Johns, Alessa
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 1060 Bainer


    In this course we will begin with Jane Austen and then study women writers who were her precursors, including Mary Astell, Eliza Haywood, Mary Wortley Montagu, Phillis Wheatley, Frances Burney, 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? How did they think about social and racial Others? How did they represent women’s education, friendship, sexuality, and power? 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%).


    Fantomina, Eliza Haywood
    A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Mary Astell
    Turkish Embassy Letters, Mary Wortley Montagu
    Poems on Various Subjects, Phillis Wheatley
    Evelina, Frances Burney
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman , Mary Wollstonecraft
    Lady Susan, Jane Austen
    Eighteenth-Century Women Poets, ed. Roger Lonsdale
    Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    Course Reader