WOMENSTD 315 - Women and Literature
Section: 001 American Women Writers: Burning Down the House
Term: FA 2017
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:

This course studies American literature from the late nineteenth century to the present, focusing on how women writers have inhabited, exploded, and reimagined paradigms of homemaking, broadly conceived. Our readings will lead us from the attic room of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” where a pathologized woman effects her own queer liberation, to the attic room of Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House, where Professor Godfrey St. Peter floats above his family life to commune with the absent presence of his dead former student; from the rambling home/mortuary (and precise panels) of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home, whose many corners allow Bechdel to reflect on the proliferating queernesses of her family life, to the improvisational home (and hypnotic prose) of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, where characters learn what it means to be a family reconstituted in the wake of loss; from the DDT-laden fields and kitchen cupboards of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which suggest how the demands of Cold War era domesticity (and its definitions of cleanliness and containment) may be as much to blame for environmental damage as is the pesticide industry, to the post-apocalyptic terrain of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, where the protagonist’s “hyperempathy” shapes the community that develops in the remnants of a former gated community. Along the way, we’ll ask questions like the following: How do women writers link questions of domestic space to broader sociopolitical concerns? How might reimagining the architecture — and practices, and parameters — of the home help us to envision possibilities for relation, care, and belonging that extend beyond the nuclear family and traditional marriage? How are such (im)possibilities fundamentally shaped by paradigms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class? How can literary form, once released from the demands of the “marriage plot,” itself become an experimental space in which women writers can practice homemaking of another sort? In addition to the texts named above, readings will include a range of short stories, poems, domestic treatises, and literary criticism.

Course Requirements:

Course requirements include active participation in discussion, brief response papers, two formal papers, and a final exam.

WOMENSTD 315 - Women and Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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