ENGL 390 A1: Women's Writing: Writing by Women pre-1900 - The Restoration and Eighteenth Century

K. Binhammer

"All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she
who earned them the right to speak their minds"

- Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

Beginning with Aphra Behn, this course probes the enormous influence women writers had on
print culture between 1660 and 1800. Though they were not the first women who wrote, Behn and her
contemporaries were some the first women to earn independent livings off their writing. Women's
influence is particularly apparent in the rise of the novel and we will be reading some of the first novels
ever written, including texts by Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Charlotte Lennox. This course will both
provide an historical survey of women writers in print culture from 1660 to 1800 and explore the
theoretical problems in feminist literary history that this diverse and fertile body of writing raises. We
will be engaging with a wide range of genres - novels, plays, letters, poetry, polemical and periodical
writing and feminist tracts - written from a variety of perspectives - amatory and scandal writing,
Bluestockings literature, Jacobin feminism, and more. We will be reading recent feminist theoretical
texts alongside early women's writing in order to ask a number of critical questions, including: is there a
woman's literary tradition? what is the relation between gender and genre, or, body and text? how do
women authorize their authorial voice? is the history of gender analogous to, or separate from, the history
of writing by women?

Texts: (The following list is provisional. Consult the computer printout in the University Bookstore)

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; The Rover, and Other Works, ed. by Janet Todd (Penguin)
Charlotte Lennox , The Female Quixote, or, The Adventures of Arabella (Oxford World Classics)
Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary & the Wrongs of Woman (Oxford World Classic, 1980)
Course Packet