English 307: Women in Literature is a senior-level, three-credit course which introduces you to writing by and about women. English 307 describes and critically examines the tradition of women's writing, deconstructs the pervasive images of women in literature, and analyses the way in which women define their experiences in terms of language. You will read a wide variety of works in prose and verse-including three novels, a play, short stories, essays, and poetry by British, American, Canadian, European, and African writers. Many of these works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are interrelated or comment on each other, so that as you proceed through the course, you should develop an understanding of the way in which a tradition in women's writing has evolved, and in what ways this tradition has encouraged or informed the works of individual authors.
The Study Guide for English 307 comprises six units, each of which attempts to provide a different critical perspective on women's writing. Although this is not a course on critical theory, the recent development of feminist critical theory offers a diversity of ways of approaching women's writing which may not have been previously considered. Unit I introduces the women's tradition in literature (historical and cultural criticism). Unit II investigates recurrent images of women in literature, and how these are re-imagined by women writers (myth criticism). Unit III interrogates the roles in which women have typically been cast (psychoanalytical criticism). Unit IV investigates the possibility of a "women's language" (linguistic criticism). Unit V shows how uniquely female experiences are articulated (lesbian criticism). Unit VI examines the underlying and overt social and political contexts of women's writing (socialist/Marxist criticism).