English R1A

Reading and Composition: Girls: Feminism, the Feminine, and Fictions after 1945

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2017 Fleishman, Kathryn
MWF 2-3 262 Dwinelle

Book List

Eugenides, Jeffrey: The Virgin Suicides; Ferrante, Elena: My Brilliant Friend; Kingston, Maxine Hong: The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye; Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita; Plath, Sylvia: The Bell Jar


This course focuses on texts of young womanhood, examining the place of female adolescence in the cultural imagination. It also seeks to interrogate the term “girl” – its fungible application across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, as well as the way it is bound up with questions of class, race, sexual orientation, and gender normativity.

Though our focus will be on post-1945 American novels, film, and television, we will also encounter fictions from other national traditions, as well as poetry, criticism, music, art, and theory. Examining how femininity is, on the one hand, ideologically produced and economically driven, and, on the other, a “naturalized” performance that may feel vital to one’s personal identity, we will pursue how second- and third-wave feminist theory, intersectional feminism, and queer theory might reshape and extend our notions of the feminine, and of what it means to be a “girl.” Finally, by centralizing narratives by and about women, we will consider the possibility of distinctively feminist and feminine modes of reading, writing, and inhabiting space.

Course texts include the writings of Susan Sontag, Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler, and bell hooks, the novels Lolita, The Bell Jar, The Bluest Eye, The Woman Warrior, The Virgin Suicides, and My Brilliant Friend, films like Heathers, Crooklyn, The Bling Ring, and American Honey, and television episodes from Girls to Orange is the New Black.

R1A is designed to hone your skills in both reading and rhetoric. As such, we will engage a variety of texts across genres (novels, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, film, & criticism). We will also practice responding to such texts variously, writing and rewriting an analytical paper, a film review, and a critical essay over the course of the term.

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