Special Topics in Women’s Writing

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ENGL 3170
Special Topics in Women’s Writing
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  1. lecture/discussion;
  2. group work;
  3. peer review;
  4. independent research;
  5. instructor feedback on students’ work;
  6. individual consultation; and
  7. presentation (individual or group).
Course Description
This course examines a selection of women’s writing in any genre(s), chosen to highlight an organizing theoretical, historical, national or thematic focus. Readings will include theory/criticism, and will introduce students to a range of feminist perspectives on literature.
Course Content

All third-year English courses share the following features:


  1. Students are presumed to have had first-year level instruction and experience in writing critical essays on literary subjects.
  2. Students are required to read in the course subject area beyond the texts assigned by the instructor.
  3. Students are required to incorporate into their oral and written coursework secondary source materials which may include biographical information, literary criticism or theory, unassigned texts by the author under study, relevant cultural or intellectual history, or other aesthetic works such as music or visual art.


Readings and topics vary with each instructor’s presentation of a course, but all course materials are consistent with the objectives and outcomes outlined in Section M.


Additionally, in English 3170

  1. Students will read a selection of literary texts by women, as well as some theoretical/critical material relevant to the particular theme or focus.
  2. Areas of concentration and course content will vary with the instructor, and may include but not be limited to:  explorations of domestic space or the domestic novel; gothic, romantic or other literary traditions; theories of sexual difference/ writing the body; French feminism; queer theory and lesbian literature; (post)colonial voices and issues; Black feminist criticism; utopias and/ or dystopias; feminism and socialist, linguistic, poststructural or other theoretical perspectives.


Two sample reading lists are is provided below, in “P.”

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of any third-year English literature course, students should be able to


  1. read and analyze literary texts with increased skill and insight;
    1. integrate their understanding of literature into an evolving awareness of relevant cultural and historical contexts and perspectives;
    2. perceive connections among literary texts across genres, historical periods, and/or cultural contexts;
    3. conduct independent research to supplement the course material and integrate this information into course assignments; and
    4. write different kinds of literary analyses, such as thematic, technical, or theoretical.


Upon completion of English 3170, students should also have


  1. developed an understanding and appreciation of the historical development of women’s writing, primarily in English;
  2. developed an understanding of some of the social, political, cultural or historical conditions out of which women’s writing arises, and to which it responds;
  3. developed an understanding of the range of feminist perspectives on and critical approaches to gender issues and women’s writing; and
  4. developed an appreciation of the range of the particular experiences and issues as reflected in women’s writing, such as the impact and intersections of gender, sexuality, race and class in women’s lives.
Means of Assessment
  1. A minimum of two academic essays and a final exam worth at least 80% of the course grade (combined total).
  2. A maximum of 20% of the course grade may be based on informal writing (quizzes, short answer tests); oral reports/presentations; participation/preparation grades; and/or other non writing-intensive assignments.


Sample Assignment Structure

  • Two essays 50%
  • Class presentation 20%
  • Final examination 30%
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students


Texts will vary with authors and genres selected by the instructor, and may include shorter readings compiled in custom course packs. 

The following reading lists represent two possible versions of this course.

1. “Emerging Feminist Consciousness in the Twentieth-Century Novel”


Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Margaret Laurence, The Diviners

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Daphne Marlatt, Ana Historic

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism


2. “Feminisms/ Womanisms:  Black Women’s Writing”


Mary Prince, “The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave (Related by Her Self)”

Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Toni Morrison, A Mercy

Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf

Sapphire, Push

Barbara Smith, “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism”

And a course pack of selected readings from

          bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman?  Black Women and Feminism;

          Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens;

          Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider; and

          Patricia Collins’ Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of      



Any TWO university-transfer first-year English courses, or ONE first-year university-transfer English course and ONE first-year university-transfer CRWR course, AND a minimum of 45 credit hours.