English 185A - Fall, 2021

Women's Writing I

Class Information

Instructor: Dolan, Frances
CRN: 53326
Time: MWF 1:10-2:00
Location: 101 Olson
GE Areas: Writing Experience


This course will focus on women writing in the seventeenth century in England. We will focus on a handful of writers so that we can delve into their lives and work. We will particularly focus on Amelia Lanyer, Margaret Cavendish, Hester Pulter, Aphra Behn, and Mary Astell. To the best of our knowledge, all were relatively privileged white Englishwomen. We will consider how their privilege enabled them to write, despite obstacles to women's education, literacy, and public speaking; we will also consider how they used their writing to defend and to attempt to extend their authority and range of action. Reading a wide range of genres (poems, plays, early novels, and letters), we will consider these writers' mastery of conventions, formal innovations, intellectual and political engagement, and imaginative leaps. To help us think about seventeenth-century women who did not leave their writings behind, we will read some primary documents about Pocahontas as well as an historical novel about Tituba, an enslaved woman who was accused of witchcraft in Salem in the late seventeenth century.

Students will practice and polish their reading, writing, and discussion skills in this class.

In addition to the two textbooks and novel I have ordered for the class, we will also read some materials I will make available on Canvas.


Frequent, low-stakes, online writing (15%)
Research and editing exercises (15%)
Paper #1 15%
Paper #2 25%
Concluding reflection narrative (20%)
Class participation (10%)


Early Modern Women's Writing: An Anthology, Paul Salzman
Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader, Ed. Bowerbank and Mendelson
I,Tituba: Black Witch of Salem, Maryse Conde