Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

What Was the ‘Woman Writer’?: Revisiting the Attic Texts

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG2000
Section 001
Instructor Karen Hornick
Days M
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 2
Level U
Requirement   HUM


Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: January 28; Last Class: March 25.


2019 marks forty years since Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar published  The Madwoman in the Attic:    The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination , a work that   defined a field once widely known as “Women’s Studies.” This class will read  Madwoman  on the occasion of its anniversary along with several of its key literary sources, three coming-of-age novels about girls raised in cultures that discouraged them from imagining any future that didn’t include marriage and childbirth: George Eliot’s  The Mill on the Floss , Willa Cather’s  The Song of the Lark , and Sylvia Plath’s  The Bell Jar . While somewhat privileged in terms or race and class, the protagonists of these books find their artistic and intellectual ambitions shaped and thwarted by the limitations of gender at every turn. And through these characters (or so  Madwoman  argued) the authors expressed their own struggles—as “women”--to find a public voice when few women enjoyed the right to vote, attend university, own property, or sign contracts. In addition to these novels and  Madwoman  itself, we will read selected poetry by Plath, Emily Dickinson, and Audre Lorde; essays on “women artists” by Eliot and Linda Nochlin; and critical responses by by Gayatri Spivak, bell hooks, and Susan Fraiman.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)