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   Course Title    Constructing Gender in American Literature and Culture
Lecturer    Michaela Mudure
Institution    YUniversity Babes-Bolyai
Country    Romania


AIM OF THE COURSE

This course (4 hours per week) is meant to help students to understand the importance of gender in the production of literature and culture alongside with other constructs, such as ethnicity or class. The course starts from very basic notions as students do not possess any notions on gender theory, and it exemplifies gender theory in American culture and literature.

ROLE OF THE COURSE IN THE OVERALL DEGREE CURRICULUM

This course is an optional course for the senior undergraduate students. It aims to provide those who are interested in gender issues or curious about gender issues with some basic notions that will allow them to pursue reading or researching on their own.

METHODS USED

The course is a combination of lectures, oral presentations by the students and seminar discussions.

COURSE CONTENT

Week 1

Gender and Sex – lecture and group discussion.

In this class students will be taught about the distinction between gender and sex, gender as a cultural and historical construct, gender stereotypes.

Recommended reading:

Nancy Chodorow – The Reproduction of Motherhood

Week 2

Movie interpretation: Bambi. This class is a practical application of the knowledge acquired in week 1. After watching the movie, students will discuss gender stereotypes in the famous cartoon.

Week 3

The First Theoretical Approaches in America.

This class is dedicated to the beginnings of American Feminism.

Mandatory Readings:

Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls in Miriam Schneir (ed.) – The Vintage Book of Historical Feminism

Margaret Fuller – Woman in the 19th Century

Sojorner Truth – Ain’t I a Woman? in Miriam Schneir (ed.) – The Vintage Book of Historical Feminism

Recommended reading:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton - A Woman’s Bible

Week 4

The New American Feminism in the 20th Century (1).

In this class we shall analyze the revival of feminism after World War II and the influence of leftist ideologies on American feminism.

Mandatory readings:

Betty Friedan – Feminine Mystique

Shulamith Firestone – The Dialectic of Sex

Week 5

The New American Feminism in the 20th Century (2). This class is dedicated to the classic textual and political feminist approaches in the 20th century.

Mandatory readings:

Kate Millett – Textual Politics

Robin Morgan – Sisterhood Is Powerful

Week 6

Gender and Epistemology.

Knowledge is not an impersonal process beyond our personal circumstances. Therefore, such a thing as objective knowledge does not exist for humans. Gender is one of the factors that influence knowledge.

Mandatory reading:

Donna Harraway – Simians, Cyborgs and Women: the reinvention of nature

Recommended reading:

Sandra Harding – Feminist Epistemologies

Week 7

Language and Gender.

Starting from the Sapir –Whorf hypothesis about the epistemic grid imposed by different languages, feminists have wondered about the influence of gender on our ideolects. This class is a discussion of ecriture feminine, silencing and silence in language.

Recommended readings

Alice Walker – In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens

Tillie Olsen - Silences

Week 8

From Writing the Body to Pornography.

In this class we shall continue the previous discussion about gender and language, discussing whether there is a gendered language. If language can be analyzed through the body, the body can also be read as a language. Pornography then is a derogatory reading of the body.

Mandatory Readings:

Ann Rosalind Jones – Writing the Body: Toward an Understanding of l’Ecriture Feminine in Roby R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl (eds.) - Feminisms

Andrea Dvorkin – Pornography

Recommended reading:

Ann Marie Doane – La femme fatale

Week 9

Cultural Representation of Homosexuality and Lesbianism.

Mandatory readings:

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick – The Epistemology of the Closet

Adriennne Rich – Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existance in Mary Eagleton (ed.) – Feminist Literary Theory

Monique Wittig – One Is Not Born a Woman in Henry Abelove, Michele Alina Barale, David M. Halperin - The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader

Recommended reading:

Bonnie Zimmerman – What Has Never Been: An Overview of Lesbian Feminist Literary Criticism in Roby R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl (eds.) - Feminisms

Week 10

Literary Representation of Homosexuality and Lesbianism.

Mandatory readings:

Beth Brant – Coyote’s New Trick

Gloria Naylor - The Two

Week 11

Gender Literary Theory

Mandatory readings:

Elaine Showalter – A Literary of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar – The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century Imagination

Barbara Smith – Toward a Black Feminist Criticism in Mary Eagleton (ed.) – Feminist Literary Theory

Recommended reading:

Toril Moi – Sexual/Textual Politics

Week 12

Gender in American Literature

Mandatory readings:

Kate Chopin – The Awakening

Henry James – The Portrait of a Lady

Weeek 13

Gender and Ethnicity in American Literature (1).

Mandatory readings:

Maxine Hong Kingston – The Woman Warrior

Alice Walker – Color Purple

Leslie Silko – Yellow Woman

Week 14

Gender and Ethnicity in American Literature (2).

Mandatory readings:

Sandra Cisneros – Woman Hollering Creek

Bharati Mukherjee – A Wife’s Story

Grace Paley – Farewell and Good Luck





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