Gender and Genre: Early Modern Women and Men Write Each Other
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NLIT 3338
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course draws on recent challenges to received ideas about the historical relation between gender and genre. We survey the variety of genres that men experimented with and compare these with the forms women deployed in their published and unpublished writing in the Early Modern world and beyond. We consider the differences in training between the sexes to assess the effects of cultural sanctions against women’s public utterances, and the perpetuation of “female education” that limited their access to canonical works. We read “female biographies” by and about earlier women to discern how these life stories contrast with the Vitas of Great Men to constitute the beginnings of women’s history. We track the effects of the founding of the British Postal Service in 1660, and the wave of female “epistolary adventures” as women drew on their experiences to refashion the male novel of letters. We trace the permeable boundaries between the “truths” of French and British women’s self-writing. We examine the first cohort of “professionalized” English women writers as they achieve market success that leads to hybrid “female fiction” by Frances Burney and Ann Radcliffe, and the reception by their male peers. The French Revolution polarizes a “women’s war,” paralleling global crisis, pitting the “Unsex’d” Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, and others against conservative Hannah More. We encounter the “Great Forgetting” of a female literary tradition in the Nineteenth Century and after, and the efforts of contemporary feminist scholars to remember and remind us. We conclude with conversation about the uses of female fiction and reality with contemporary women writers. Note: This course used to be NHUM3020.