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COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in English Literature: Gender and Literature"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 3:00-4:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above

An in-depth treatment of a current area of special concern within the field of English Literature. Topics may vary.
Gender is a  much heard and often misused term that refers to the cultural construction of sexual identities. Employing Feminist and Queer Theory, and masculinity studies, the course aims to analyze the way in which literature  paid an essential role in gender construction, from the Book of Genesis in the Bible, to classical representations of femininity and masculinity, through Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Eighteenth and Nineteenth century novel and poetry, up to the 20th century.
The course will focus both on the development of gender theory and on the way cultural practices regarding sexual identities were shaped, reinforced, and "naturalized" by literature, but also challenged, broadened and re-cast.
Students will learn how to analyze critically the concept of gender, to understand its political and cultural implications, to assess the role of literature in the construction of the term and in its validation or challenge.
The course will focus on understanding how the the concept of gender interacts with other aspects of identity, such as race, class, age, sexuality, etc, and assessing the function of literature in defining conceptions of identity.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
An Introduction to FeminismFinlayson, LauraCambridge UP, 2016 978-1107544826 Please order at the Almost Corner Bookshop
The Handmaid's TaleAtwood, MargaretVintage Classics, 2017978-1784873189 Please order at Almost Corner Bookshop Make sure to get this edition which has a new introduction by Margaret Atwood.

2 assignments4000 word papers using critical resources and secondary texts.40%
Midterm exam 15%
Final exam 20%
Class contributionThis portion of the grade is assessed on the basis of active participation in class (e.g. contribution to class discussion, coming to class prepared, etc.). Silent attendence does not contribute to this portion of the grade.10%
powerpoint presentationgroups of 4-5 students will present on every aspect of a single topic chosen with the instructor15%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory. You are allowed 4 absences which should cover sickness and other normal incidents. For exceptional cases you will have to ask for a formal excuse from the Dean. Given that the class is full, it will not be possible to reschedule exams, tests or presentations. If you are absent you will receive a 0 grade.
Please organize your traveling so as to fit in with these requirements and check the final exam week dates.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


A detailed schedule will be provided at the beginning of term

Week 1. What is gender and why is everyone talking about it? Lois Gould, "X" (1972, 1981)
Week 2. The Iliad and the Odyssey: Greek Gods and archetypes
Week 3. The Middle Ages: Arthurian Legends, Romance, Courtly Love
Week 4. Elizabeth and Shakespeare
Week 5. The Enlightenment, The French Revolution and Mary Wollstonecraft
Week 6. Victoria, the Angel in the House, and Oscar Wilde
Week 7. The Gender Revolution of the 20th century and Virginia Woolf
Week 8. Theory: Feminism, Foucault, Queer theory
Week 9. The Body
Week 10. Gender in 20th century poetry in English:
Week 11. Gender in 20th century Fiction in English: Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale
Week 12.Gender in 20th century Fiction in English: Alice Munro
Week 13. Gender in 20th century Drama in English: Caryl Churchill: Top Girls
Week 14. Transgender bodies
Week 15. Final Exams

We will be reading extracts from the following texts, available from Frohring LIbrary.

Callaghan, Dympna. Shakespeare Without Women, edited by Dympna Callaghan, Taylor and Francis, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.jcu.idm.oclc.org/lib/johncabot/detail.action?docID=169931.


Aldama, Arturo J. Violence and the Body : Race, Gender, and the State. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003. Web.


Harwood, Britton J., and Gillian R. Overing. Class and Gender in Early English Literature : Intersections. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. Web.


Linton, Joan Pong. The Romance of the New World : Gender and the Literary Formations of English Colonialism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Web. Cambridge studies in Renaissance literature and culture, 27; Cambridge studies in Renaissance literature and culture, 27.


Daniels, Patsy J. Constructing the Literary Self : Race and Gender in Twentieth-Century Literature. Newca upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013. Web.


Sorisio, Carolyn. Fleshing Out America : Race, Gender, and the Politics of the Body in American Literature, 1833-1879. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002. Web


Moglen, Helene. The Trauma of Gender : A Feminist Theory of the English Novel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Web.


Halberstam, Judith and Ira Livingston. Posthuman Bodies. Indiana University Press, 1995. Unnatural Acts. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1043&site=ehost-live.