WOMENSTD 315 - Women and Literature
Section: 001 "Scribbling Women" and the American Periodical
Term: FA 2010
Subject: Women's Studies (WOMENSTD)
Department: LSA Women's Studies
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

Many nineteenth-century women writers first published their work in American newspapers and magazines. Feeling threatened by their growing presence in the literary marketplace, Nathaniel Hawthorne famously labeled them a “damned mob of scribbling women.” These “scribbling women” were writing landmark serial novels, advocating abolition and suffrage, and discussing etiquette and child-rearing. This course will examine the relationship between women writers and periodical publications in the nineteenth century and their legacy in our time both in print and digital culture. We will look at how women writers and editors established themselves as “professional” writers in the nineteenth century and why the periodical became their chosen vehicle for publication. We will also look at the various kinds of periodical publications in which women’s writings appeared—literary, fashion, political, “high-brow” and “low-brow”—and we will consider how women’s magazines both challenged and reinscribed perceptions of womanhood. By studying women’s writing in the context of periodicals, we will better understand the key role that women writers played in advocating for their own rights and the rights of others, in the growth of literary professionalism, and in the evolution of particular genres of writing, including the sentimental, realism, and the short story.

Course readings may include:

  • Fuller, Margaret: Selections from The Dial
  • Sedgwick, Catharine Maria: "Cacoethes Scribendi"
  • Child, Lydia Maria: “The Quadroons” from The Liberty Bell
  • Hale, Sarah Josepha: Selections from the Ladies’ Magazine and Godey’s Ladies Book
  • Alcott, Louisa May: Selections from the Boston Commonwealth, Merry’s Museum, etc.
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (published serially in the National Era)
  • Willis, Sarah (Fanny Fern): Ruth Hall; Selections from the New York Ledger
  • Davis, Rebecca Harding: “Life in the Iron Mills” (from The Atlantic Monthly)
  • Stone, Lucy: Selections from The Women’s Journal
  • Wells, Ida B.: Selections from the Evening Star, The Living Way, etc.

We'll be using the American Periodicals Series and Making of America databases for a lot of our work as well. We'll also be looking at 20th C. magazines including Ms., "O" the Oprah magazine, Jezebel (pop culture blog) and perhaps Vogue, Cosmo, Vanity Fair, and other "glossies."

Weekly in-class writings and/or reading responses (factored into participation). Two short response papers (3-4 pgs). Brief group presentation on a selected periodical--these will be spread out throughout the quarter. A mid-term (identification, short response, and essay). A longer, researched response paper (6-8 pgs) with brief annotated bibliography (3 sources).

WOMENSTD 315 - Women and Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Other course readings will be made available as PDFs on CTools. You may also purchase a later edition of Ruth Hall and Other Writings.
ISBN: 0813511682
Ruth Hall and other writings., Author: Fanny Fern ; edited and with an introduction by Joyce W. Warren., Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Pr. 7th print. 1986
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780312133603
Life in the iron-mills, Author: Rebecca Harding Davis ; ed. by Cecelia Tichi,..., Publisher: Bedford books 1998
ISBN: 9780333730751
The yellow wallpaper, Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman ; edited by Dale M. Bauer., Publisher: Bedford Books 1998
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