English R1B

Reading and Composition: Girls, Misunderstood?: “Deviant” Women in Literature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Spring 2021 Ghosh, Srijani
TTh 8-9:30

Book List

Chopin, Kate: The Awakening; Kaysen, Susanna: Girl, Interrupted; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye

Other Readings and Media

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"; Doris Lessing, "To Room Nineteen"


Recent psychological thrillers such as The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train have made the figure of the unreliable female narrator-cum-protagonist very popular, and the plots of these stories are driven by the seeming mental instability of the narrator. This trope of female instability has a long literary history and has its roots in deeming women “mad” or “hysterical” when they deviate from the established sociocultural norms of a given time period or community. What drives women to madness? Is a woman mentally sound only when she exhibits “proper” feminine behavior? How does society punish a woman when it considers her an Other? This will be a reading- and writing-intensive course where we will examine short stories and novels, focusing on the way gender, class, and race contribute to the definition and treatment of mental illness.

We will focus on developing the writing, reading, research, and critical thinking skills that you will need throughout your college career. The class will build on the reading, analytical, and composition skills that you already have, and prepare you for writing longer and more complex papers, improve your research skills, and teach you to incorporate source material effectively.

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