523 – Literature and Gender

Spring 2009-2010. Kaifan. Room 252. Wednesday 5:00-7:50


Course Description:

This course will introduce some of the key texts and theoretical positions in the area of gender studies, with particular attention to the presentation of femininity and masculinity in different literary cultures (Western and non-Western) and periods, and to how gendered identities have been defined in a variety of literary texts.  Students will consider the extent to which gender identities may be socially constructed, culturally mediated, or historically constituted, and will be required to apply theory (eg, feminist) to one or more primary texts , including a modern novel from the Arab world.


Textbooks: (all to be read cover to cover except when indicated)

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. NY: Routledge, 1990.

Djebar, Assia. Women of Algiers in Their Apartment. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1980.

Genz, Stéphanie, and Benjamin A. Brabon. Postfeminism Cultural Texts and Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009.

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: the Traditions in English. NY: Norton, 2007. (selections)

Leitch, Vincent B et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2001. (selections)

Maso, Carole. Ava: a Novel. Illinois: Dalkey Archive, 1993.

McCann, Carole R., and Seung-Kyung Kim, eds. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2003. (selections)

Puig, Manuel. Kiss of the Spider Woman. Trans. Thomas Colchie. London: Vintage, 1976.

Trinh-Thi-Minh-Ha. Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana Univ., 2005.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse


Supplementary material:

Gardner, Janet E.  Writing about Literature

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers


Books available at the university bookshop, with the exception of Gilbert, Butler, Trinh and Genz which should arrive soon.


Grades & Requirements:

15% Active participation and prompt attendance

5% Totosy’s Workshop

10% In-class writing assignments on the theoretical articles and books, sporadically distributed throughout the term. These range from asking you to write one paragraph in response to what you read, to providing you with a set of simple follow-up questions on the assigned reading.

20% Academic responses to Churchill, Puig, Djebar, and Maso between 600-800 words, to be saved as word document and submitted as an email attachment to mail@drhanan.com and brought to class for discussion. Due dates indicated on syllabus. Provide a reading of the literary work in light of your understanding of feminist theories. Do not present a clichéd response in which you repeat well-known and common ideas, but rather try to present your own reading in which you touch upon what you consider to be points worthy of analysis. This is not simply a personal response, but rather your way of thinking out, on paper, how the work contributes to our class discussions. The reading will be accompanied by one or two articles which you can use in your paper.

15% Midterm Quiz: a short quiz testing your knowledge of the material covered after the midterm. This is not an essay exam.

5% Final paper presentation to take place during exams at the end of the term. 5 minutes allowed for each presenter

30% Final project of 15 pages (4500-6000 words). A critique of a work of literature of your choice, approved by me, and supported by feminist criticism. Due June 13th. Save as word document and submit as an email attachment to mail@drhanan.com



24/2 Woolf: To the Lighthouse

Woolf: “A Room of One’s Own” (Leitch 1017-29)

Foucault: “History of Sexuality” (Leitch 1615-21, 1648-66)

3/3 Caryl Churchill: Top Girls (Gilbert 2152-), response #1 due

Helene Cixous: “Laugh of the Medusa” (Leitch 2035-56)

Bazin: "Historicizing Feminisms in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls" Click to download

– Lecture held by Dr Ebtehal Al-Khateeb as I will be attending a conference

10/3 Nin: "Birth" (Gilbert 1623-7)

    Le Guin: "Sur", "She Unnames Them" (Gilbert 1931-45)

    Atwood: 6 Poems (Gilbert 2215-21)

    Beauvoir: "The Second Sex (McCann 32-40)

    Witting: "One Is Not Born a Woman" (McCann 249-54)

    Haraway: "Situated Knowledge" (McCann 391-403)

    Lacan: "The Signification of the Phallus" (Leitch 1278-85, 1302,10)

    Kolodny: "Dancing Through the Minefield" (Leitch 2143-65)

    Kristeva: "Revolution in Poetic Language" (Leitch 2165-79)

    Bordo: "Unbearable Weight" (Leitch 2360-76)

17/3 Puig: Kiss of the Spiderwoman, response #2 due

    Newman: "Misreading the Kiss" Click to download

24/3 Totosy’s seminar

31/3 Butler: Gender Trouble

7/4 Kingston: "No Name Woman" (Gilbert 2239-47)

    Mukherjee: "The Management of Grief" (Gilbert 2253-65)

    Hogan: 4 poems (Gilbert 2325-27)

    Silko: "Yellow Woman" (Gilbert 2327-34)

    Anzaldua: "Tlilli, Tlapalli" (Gilbert 2271-80)

    Basu: "Globalization of the Local" (McCann 68-77)

    Sturgeon: "Ecofeminist Appropriations" (McCann 113-25)

    Yamada: "Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster" (McCann 174-8)

    Anzaldua: "La Conciencia de la Mestiza" (McCann 179-87)

    Mohanty: "Feminist Encounters" (McCann 460-71)

    Allen: "Kochinnenako in Academe" (Leitch 2106-26)

14/4 midterm quiz

21/4 Trinh: Woman, Native, Other

28/4 Djebar: Women of Algiers in their Apartment, response #3 due

    Jager: "Translating Assia Djebar" Click to download

    Faulkner: "Assia Djebar, Frantz Fanon, Women, Veils, and Land" Click to download

5/5 Away on conference

12/5 Morrison: Sula (Gilbert 1993-2072)

    Basu: "The Black Voice and the Language of the Text" Click to download

    – Conference, again, a substitute date will be agreed upon in class

19/5 Hurston: "Sweat", "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (Gilbert 1488-1501)

    Angelou: "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (Gilbert 1916-21)

    Walker: "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens" (Gilbert 2314-22)

    Krebs: "Radical Feminism 1" (McCann 45-9)

    hooks: "Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression" (McCann 50-6)

    Mikell: "African Feminism: Towards a New Politics of Representation" (McCann 103-12)

    Lorde: "I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities" (McCann 255-9)

    Collins: "The Politics of Black Feminist Thought" (McCann 318-33)

    Christian: "The Race for Theory" (Leitch 2255-66)

    Smith: "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism" (Leitch 2299-2315)

    hooks: "Postmodern Blackness" (Leitch 2475-84)

26/5 Maso: Ava response #4 due

    Harris: "Emancipating the Proclamation: Gender and Genre in AVA" Click to download

2/6 Genz: Postfeminism

13/6 paper presentations & Final paper due