English 152

Women Writers: Early American Women Writers

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2011 Donegan, Kathleen
Donegan, Kathleen
TTh 2-3:30 100 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Berkin, C.: First Generations: Women in Colonial America; Andrews, W.: Journeys in New Worlds; Sedgwick, C.: Hope Leslie; Foster, H.: The Coquette; Rowson, S.: Charlotte Temple; Prince, M.: The History of Mary Prince


This course will survey the writing of American women from narratives of colonial settlement through the novels of the early republic. During this period, women produced immensely popular works and developed major literary traditions that would fundamentally shape American literature. Yet even as people clamored to read their books, society continued to look upon women's public speech with distaste or suspicion. In light of this contradiction, we will examine the complicated relationship between writing and gender roles in early America. How did women negotiate the boundaries between anonymity, authority, and spectacle? How did the roles of daughter, wife or mother extend to, or clash with, the creation of written works? How did questions of race, religion, class and ethnicity complicate the story of "women's writing"? And when we study women's writing, are we necessarily studying women's lives? We will read in several genres: not only novels and poems, but also court records, petitions, political essays, diaries, letters, and personal narratives. We will also study historical, theoretical, and critical approaches to interpreting this literature. Authors will include Rowlandson, Wheatley, Foster, Rowson, and Prince.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

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