Women Writers of Britain and America

Course Aims and Objectives

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf famously asks, ‘what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister?’ and goes on to explore the obstacles to literary success that she might have encountered. This module follows Woolf’s lead by seeking to redress the historical marginalisation of women writers in the English literary canon through an exploration of how women have come to writing at different historical moments, what they have chosen to write, and how. A selection of texts from the 17th century through to the 21st, encompassing autobiographical forms, the novel, poetry and drama, are used to examine relationships between gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity and literary production, and to explore continuities, connections and disparities between representations of female experience. The module is historical in terms of both the range of primary texts it addresses, and in the history of feminist theoretical and critical approaches it provides. It is structured generically, in order to facilitate formal analysis of the texts under consideration.