Honors | Women in Social Movements (ENG)
L207 | 28213 | Tarez Graban
A portion of this course is reserved for Hutton Honors students;
honors credit ONLY by special arrangement with instructor at
beginning of semester.
TOPIC: “Rhetorics of Women Writing in Social Movements”
This semester, we will survey the texts of women writers to
investigate a range of rhetorical and poetic strategies that
illuminate their participation in various “spheres” of social
activity, beginning with responses to female autonomy in the English
Renaissance (e.g., Elizabeth I’s “Responses to Parliament”) and
ending with treatises for labor reform in America (e.g., Charlotte
Perkins Gilman, Jane Addams, Rose Schneiderman), with special
attention given to trans-Atlantic movement and racial uplift.
We will read in genres ranging from polemical essays to novellas to
short stories to public address, drawing on feminist philosophy,
feminist criticism, and rhetorical theory as investigative lenses on
what we read. Part of that reading involves tracing 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:
•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 movements did their texts help to inspire? What
definitions could they have helped to disrupt?
•How can concepts such as topos, kairos, logos, ethos, and mimesis—
more commonly known as "locations," "timing," "logic," "self-
representation," and "imitation"—help us understand their texts as
informed, proactive, empowered, and agential? As unlikely precursors
to today’s social justice movements?
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 novel or a film viewing. We're covering a
lot of ground, so course requirements will likely include daily
reading, a group symposium, 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.