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The University of Southampton

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

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
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
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


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.

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 This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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