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The University of Southampton

ENGL2011 Women, Writing and Modernity, 1770-1830

Module Overview

The period 1770-1830 was a pivotal time in the history of women’s writing in Britain. Reacting against slavery and responding to the French Revolution, women assumed a prominent role in debates that would shape the modern world, and lead to modern feminism, most famously put forward by Mary Wollstonecraft. Exploring the formal innovations women made in different genres of writing offers a way into the relation between women’s writing and articulations of modernity. Writing by Wollstonecraft, Hannah More, and Jane Austen will introduce you to the different ways women’s writing reshaped definitions of gender, sexuality, social hierarchy and race, marriage, family, and nation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse a variety of written texts critically and with attention to their historical context
  • compare the development of certain themes from different moments within the historical scope of the course
  • define key terms in the texts and trace their evolution across the period
  • distinguish between different approaches to gender and writing in this period
  • research a problem, focus on its most salient issues, find the most relevant sources and discuss the problem in depth.
  • discuss the issues raised by the course in relation not only to the material specific to it but to the wider cultural issues it raised
  • write with clarity and sensitivity about the historical differences between the period of the course and our own
  • discuss these differences in sophisticated and thoughtful ways with others who may not have studied gendered writing in this early period.


Teaching methods include • lectures • tutor-led seminar discussion Learning activities include • individual and collaborative student seminar presentation • internet, database and library research • email list discussion

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Seminars • Office hours for individual feedback on essays Learning activities include • Office hours for individual feedback on essays • Introducing a seminar through oral presentations • Small group work focusing on close readings of theoretical material Innovative or special features of this module • Its emphasis on showing students how to apply complex theoretical material to read literary texts

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Elizabeth Eger, et al, ed. (2001). Women, Writing and the Public Sphere 1700-1830 (Especially the Introduction and chapters 4, 5, 6, and 10). 

Barbara Taylor and Sarah Knott, ed. (2007). Women, Gender and Enlightenment. 

Marilyn Butler (1975). Jane Austen and the War of Ideas. 

Charlotte Smith (1793). The Emigrants. 

Vivien Jones, ed (1990). Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity. 

Charlotte Smith (1807). Beachy Head. 

Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus, ed (1997). Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations, and Responsibilities. 

Mary Wollstonecraft (2007). Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman’ in ‘Mary’ and ‘ The Wrongs of Woman, ed. Gary Kelly. 

Amanda Vickery (1998). The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. 

Harriet Guest (2000). Small Change: Women, Learning, Patriotism, 1750-1810. 

Anne K. Mellor (2000). Mothers of the Nation: Women’s Political Writing in England, 1780-1830 (ch. 1). 

Anna Letitia Barbauld (1812). Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, A Poem. 

Jane Austen (1998). Mansfield Park, ed. Claudia L. Johnson. 

Mary Wollstonecraft (1995). A Vindication of the Rights of Man and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. Sylvana Tomeselli. 

Anna Letitia Barbauld (1792). Epistle to William Wilberforce. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 75%
Essay  (1000 words) 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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