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Courses

ENGL2052 Images of Women

Module Overview

Cultural representations of women shed important light on notions of female subjectivity, sexuality and racial identity in the modern world. Medical discourses on gender, mental pathology and the rise of modern feminism are just some of the pivotal histories that can be traced through images of women in this period. Works by H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf and Sigmund Freud highlight the influences fiction, feminist criticism, and psychoanalytic theory had in moulding and recasting images of women, as they appeared in American and European cultural contexts at the turn of the century.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• enable you to develop awareness, understanding and knowledge of images of women in literary and psychoanalytical texts from 1880-1940 • provide you with opportunities to draw upon theoretical, critical and reading skills in the specific areas of gender, subjectivity, sexuality, and mental pathology • consider particular questions posed about female identities in selected fictional and non-fictional texts • develop your skills in writing analytical essays

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • images of women in literary and psychological texts of the period in the context of changing roles and women’s perceptions of self
  • the literary, historical and cultural contexts of the works of the chosen writers
  • critical responses to the authors studied
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • write critically, accurately and in some depth on a range of views
  • participate in informal discussion and debate reflecting a range of views
  • use your research to draw on a wide variety of secondary and supplementary sources
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse, orally and in writing, key concepts and ideas
  • contextualise the work of the writers studied and consider critical responses to it
  • employ an understanding of the theoretical debates on feminist theory and, in particular, on sexuality, identity and hysteria
  • evaluate critically a range of textual material

Syllabus

In this module you will study a number of fictional works as well as psychoanalytical texts paying specific attention to changing images of women in differing historical and cultural contexts in the US and Europe between 1880 and 1940. Themes such as female subjectivity, racial identity and female sexuality will be consolidated and developed through detailed textual and theoretical analysis. In addition, you will be analysing developments in medical discourse on gender and mental pathology, e.g. hysteria, underpinned by Freudian, contemporary feminist and psychoanalytic theory. The primary literature studied will include: Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, Kate Chopin, The Awakening, Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own and Mrs Dalloway, Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men and Their Eyes Were Watching God, Sigmund Freud, Dora.

Special Features

• Background lectures are the means by which you are introduced to the works of the selected authors, the historical and cultural contexts, and the key course themes • The seminars will be strongly student-centred, giving you the opportunity to pursue key themes raised in lectures in depth through particular tasks and informed discussion with your peers. • The group will be given clear guidance and advice in seminars prior to beginning your assessed work, and there will be opportunities for you by individual appointment with the tutor to discuss your research for your assessment. • The first piece of coursework will require you to analyse the work of one writer, and will enable you to demonstrate your knowledge of and responsiveness to relevant secondary sources in a sustained, clearly illustrated argument. The second piece of coursework will allow you more scope and enable you to focus on two novels to explore specific literary, thematic and/or theoretical issues. • The teaching, learning and assessment methods and the planned learning outcomes are closely integrated to give you insight into the key issues regarding female subjectivity, sexuality and pathology of the given period.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • background lectures • seminars • independent study Learning activities include • close reading and careful analysis of selected texts and themes • engagement in seminar discussions as participator and listener • preparation for and completion of two coursework essays

TypeHours
Independent Study126
Teaching24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Abel, Elizabeth (1996). Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis. 

Appinignanesi, Lisa and John Forrester (eds.) (2001). Freud’s Women. 

Showalter, Elaine (1998). Hystories: Hysteria, Gender and Culture. 

James, Joy (ed.) (2000). The Black Feminist Reader. 

Mills, Sara (1996). Feminists Readings/Feminist Reading. 

Ussher, Jane M (1991). Women’s Madness: Misogygny or Mental Illness?. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • you will be encouraged to discuss preparation for your two coursework assignments with your tutor • you will have the opportunity to seek individual advice on your work in progress with your tutor • you will be given guidance and advice in class on preparation, completion and presentation of assignments

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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