In this course, we will read a wide range of fictional and non-fictional narratives published by British and American women writers over an approximately 250 year period, from about 1680 to 1930. The course first addresses issues of gender: Who were these women writers? What did they write? Who did they write for? Why did they write and under what conditions? Secondly, it engages issues of race, examining how early white women writers—both British and American—based their narratives on the creation of black characters, but how over time black women were empowered to “write back,” devising plots and protagonists of their own. Finally, the course will consider the equally important issue of class, since all of the writers we will be reading emphasized class distinctions in their elaboration of characters.
Texts include: Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; Harriet Wilson, Our Nig; Mary Seacole Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and others.
Requirements: oral presentation; quizzes; short paper (3-4 pp.); midterm exam; long paper (8-10 pp.); final exam