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Desperate Housewives of the 19th-Century Novel

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number IDSEM-UG1811
Section 001
Instructor June Foley
Days W
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



From Jeffrey Eugenides's novel  The Marriage Plot  to TV's  Desperate Housewives  and "Real Housewives" series, our contemporary culture explores what happens after "happily ever after." Some of the great novels of the mid-to-late 19th century also examine the dilemmas of wives during a period when every aspect of "The Woman Question," including divorce and child custody laws, was debated. In this course we explore controversial novels in which female characters struggle with lives largely limited by the cultural stereotypes of the Angel in the House and the emerging New Woman. Readings include Gustave Flaubert’s  Madame Bovary  (1856), Kate Chopin's  The Awakening  (1899), and George Gissing’s  The Odd Women  (1893). We contextualize each with readings on historical events in the French, American, and English settings. We also read about the post-publication history of these works, including Flaubert’s trial for obscenity, Chopin’s supposedly abandoning novel-writing because of the controversy over her work, and Gissing’s own two disastrous marriages. Other readings include selections from J.S. Mill's  The Subjection of Women  and from the theory of Thorstein Veblen and Michel Foucault.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)