Honors | Women & Literature: Women in Social Movements (ENG)
L207 | 26248 | Tarez Graban

MWF 10:10-11:00am

In this course, we will survey the texts of women writers to
investigate the rhetorical and poetic strategies that illuminate
their participation in social movements. Beginning with English
medieval politics and ending with American industrialization, we
will trace a set of key concepts that demonstrate how women wrote
from the positionings they were assigned (and in some cases,
assigned themselves) in order to effect social change. Here are some
questions driving our course:

How can concepts such as topos, kairos, logos, pathos, ethos,
mimesis, facetiae, and pronuntiatio—more commonly known
as “topics,” “timing,” “logic,” “emotion,” “self-
representation,” “imitation,” “irony,” and “voice”—help us
understand their texts as informed, proactive, empowered, and
agential? In contexts as dire as martyrdom, war, segregation,
lynching, class inequity, and even gender normalization and
compulsory marriage, what made these women act through their
writings when “action” wasn’t a nom-du-jour? What larger movement
did their texts help to inspire? What definitions could they have
helped to disrupt?

As we survey better-known women writers, we will also investigate an
archival collection of rare texts by lesser-known women—including
liberal free-thinkers and labor activists—to get a sense of how
their everyday writings are anything but mundane. This archival
project will give you the opportunity to formulate an original
response to a critical question based on the texts that you choose.

Our readings will come from the first volume of the Norton Anthology
of Literature by Women (Third Edition) and a supplemental
coursepack, as well as a film viewing. We’re covering a lot of
ground, so course requirements will likely include reading, a group
presentation, three mini critical-response papers, one longer
investigative paper based on your archival project, and a final
exam. Active and steady participation will be expected and essential
to your success in the class.