Text only


Women in Literature

Gender 2002

Spring 2018

Kimberly M. Radek-Hall, Professor
Office: A-314, (815) 224-0395


Office Hours: 8:30-10 a.m. M W
and 12:15-1:15 p.m. T Th

Class begins 10 January and ends 7 May.
All times are Central. 


Berthe Morisot's La Lecture, 1869-1870

This course is offered through the division of
Humanities, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences.
Course Objectives
This course looks closely at literature by and/or about women as it informs their gendered identity. Historical and chronological discussion of gender role definition and the relationship between that and how women are viewed and view themselves is a key component of this course. Discussion of readings, films, and other media trace the development of women’s writings and increases students’ appreciation and awareness
of the excellence in women’s writing.

More specifically, this course introduces you to representative works by and about women from historical, social, and literary perspectives as it seeks to inform you about gendered identities. You will learn how gender roles develop and change and how women's views of themselves are reflected in their writing. You will read different literary forms, and you should become able to identify motifs, themes, and stereotypical patterns in that literature. Additionally, you will learn historical, philosophical, religious, and cultural information to help increase your understanding and appreciation of the works. By the end of the course, you should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the texts, the authors and literary and social movements that produced them, and the elements of those texts, such as symbols, themes, and points of view.

Prerequisites: You will need critical reading and writing skills to successfully complete this course, hence you must have completed English 1001 and 1002 or their equivalents. 

General Education Credit

This course is a general education course, which fulfills a humanities requirement toward your bachelor's degree. It has been accepted by IAI as an H3 911D course, so you know that it will be accepted by all participating schools.  Additionally, this course will help you attain the following goals, deemed central to IVCC's general education program: 

1. To apply analytical and problem solving skills to personal, social, and professional issues and situations.

2. To communicate successfully, both orally and in writing, to a variety of audiences.

3. To construct a critical awareness of and appreciation for diversity.

4. To understand and use technology effectively and to understand its impact on the individual and society.

5. To develop interpersonal capacity.

6. To recognize what it means to act ethically and responsibly as an individual and as a member of society.

7. To recognize what it means to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of mind, body, and spirit.

8. To connect learning to life.

Required Texts (See Class Schedule Below)

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. New York: Fawcett, 1985.

Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Doubleday, 2003.

Davidson, Dianne Mott. Catering to Nobody. New York: Bantam, 2002.

Martin, George, R. R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam, 1996.

Naylor, Gloria. Linden Hills. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.

Roberts, Nora. Birthright. New York: Berkley, 2004.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic, Inc. 1997.

Soles, Derek. The Prentice Hall Pocket Guide to Understanding Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. 

Wilson, C. L. Lady of Light and Shadows.  New York: Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc., 2007.

Wilson, C. L. Lord of the Fading Lands.  New York: Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc., 2007.

Other texts, as assigned, including a required Xanedu packet, are available in the bookstore--or are free online. 

     Note that of the above listed texts, each one listed in black is required. Of the texts in green, you choose texts from one of the last six units.

Grading Scale (%)

    A: 100-90     B: 89-80     C: 79-70     D: 69-60     F: 59-0

Breakdown of Grades 

Class Discussions: 10%
Individual Participation: 10%             
Examination #1: 30%
Examination #2: 30%
Gender and Literary Analysis Paper: 20%

Class Discussions and Individual Participation:  You are required to participate in class discussions.  As long as you are prepared and can write on the subjects we study, you can earn these points. In each unit, you will see one two, or three discussion prompts. I do expect you to answer each one, using at least 100 words per post and quoting, where necessary, from your reading materials to support your response. I also expect that you will respond to at least two posts by classmates in each topic thread using at least 50 words in those responses.  You will be evaluated on your contribution and efforts to the class. Likewise, all homework (if any), group work (if any), extra credit (if any), and quizzes will be graded and make up part of this category of your grade. 

The Examinations: You will be tested over the material covered in class lecture material, discussions, and assigned readings. The examinations may include short answer, multiple choice, and passage identification questions but will be largely comprised of essay questions. These exams will show that you have read these texts critically and analytically, identifying common themes and gender issues in them, and can write clearly about them.

The Paper: Please type your papers; they must be double-spaced and should follow standard MLA format. Please put the class name and number and the assignment in the subject line. In this gender/literary analysis paper you will determine, analyze, and evaluate the gender messages in a text you choose as your subject, as you are also evaluating its literary merits. This paper should, of course, have a clearly stated thesis statement in its first paragraph. Papers will be given letter grades that will be converted to percentage points before the final semester grade is calculated, and they will be evaluated on audience, grammar, organization, presentation, spelling, and style as well as content. I do expect that you will use and cite at least two secondary sources--as well as your primary source--in this paper. This is due by 28 April 2018. I am happy to conference with you about your papers any time before April 27th.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Upon successfully completing this class, students will be able to:

1. Examine the development of gender norms, identities, and roles as they are shaped by historical, political, and social factors, such as the representation of women in writings or art, whether philosophical, literary, etc.

2. Analyze various literary works by and about women for what they say about gender.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the influence that theories about and definitions of gender have on writers’ beliefs about gender and about themselves.

4. Express the way society and literature impact one’s gender development, and vice versa.

5. Consider their own lives, as either males or females, and their own writing, as the product of either males or females, in light of these perspectives, and be empowered to think critically on topics such as cultural and political values and norms.


The College's policy on plagiarism applies in this class; I will question you if your work does not appear to be your own. Keep all notes, outlines, drafts, and finished assignments so that you can demonstrate that writing you have submitted is your own work, should any question of plagiarism arise.



All students must 'e-attend' regularly, as weekly work and discussions are assessed. Besides the obvious loss of points that goes along with not participating in class, there is no other deduction; however, if you decide that you cannot complete the coursework, you must request a withdrawal from me either in person or through e-mail by noon on 3 April 2017--or process one yourself using WebAdvisor. I will not withdraw you from the class, even if you stop contributing, unless you have requested it of me. Keep in mind, too, that withdrawing from a course may jeopardize or change your financial aid, so be sure to consult with a financial aid advisor before committing to a withdrawal.


You may be eligible for academic accommodations if you have a physical, psychiatric, or cognitive disability. If you have a disability and need more information regarding possible accommodations, please contact Tina Hardy at 224-0284.

Tentative Class Schedule

Section One Images of Women from the Past

Unit 1

10-17 January

Introduction to Course and Texts

Gender as a Topic of Study: Necessary Terminology

Read "The Queen's Looking Glass," Chapter 1 in The Madwoman in the Attic  in the Xanedu packet

Please log in to the class's website in BlackboardInstructions for and explanations of Blackboard, if you are not familiar with it, are available through IVCC's ITS department's link on the topic.  I will use Blackboard for all grades in this class; if something is not recorded in Blackboard, then you know it isn't graded yet.

Note: The Blackboard for this class will become available to you on or before 10 January 2017. The Discussion Board may take a few days more.

Discussion 1
Quiz 1

Unit 2

18 January -
1 February

Literature as a Topic of Study: Necessary Terminology, Skills, and Understanding

The Art of Fiction and The Art of Poetry

Read Soles's The Prentice Hall Pocket Guide to Understanding Literature on fiction and poetry

Read Women in Ancient Greece and Rome

Read Plato and Aristotle   

Read Greek and Roman Myths
     Prometheus and Pandora
     Juno and Her Rivals
     Cupid and Psyche

Read Selected Poems by Sappho

Discussion 2
Quiz 2

Please look ahead on the syllabus.  On which piece will you write your gender/literary analysis paper?  You should begin reading that text now.

Unit  3

2-12 February


Please read Gender and Literature as Topics of Study: Necessary Theory and Philosophy

Biblical Images of Women: Ancient Israeli History, Biblical Criticism, and the Significance of the Creation Stories to Women's Studies

Read excerpt from Genesis online at gospelcom.net , the first three chapters of Genesis from the New International Version

Read "Woman" from Louis Ginzberg's The Legends of the Jews

Read Phyllis Trible Handout in Xanedu packet

Discussion 3
Quiz 3

Take this link to a sample of the gender/analysis paper. Note that the sample paper is not complete.

Unit 4

13-18 February

Images of Women in Early Christianity

Read Paul and Augustine

Discussion 4
Quiz 4


Unit 5

19-25 February

Women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment

Read Rousseau and Wollstonecraft

Read Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew from MIT's Shakespeare Website

Discussion 5
Quiz 5


Unit 6

26 February -
3 March

Women in the Nineteenth Century

Read Mill and Darwin     

Read Hawthorne and Poe

Read Jane Tompkins's "Masterpiece Theater" in Xanedu packet

Read Selections from Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman  

Discussion 6
Quiz 6

You might consider drafting your outline for your paper at this point and finding the primary support from the text for your arguments.

Unit 7

4-11 March


Read Selections from Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti

Please review The Art of Poetry and Soles's entries on poetry.

Discussion 7
Quiz 7

Examination One

Section Two Images of Women from the Present

Unit 8

12-19 March


Women in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Read Francine Prose's "Scent of a Woman's Ink"

Read Freud, Horney, and Friedan in Xanedu packet

Discussion 8
Quiz 8 

You might consider finding the secondary support from the text for your arguments for your paper at this time, if you haven't already.

Unit 9

20 March- 1 April


Read Selections from Virginia Woolf and Susan Glaspell

Read Hemingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" 

Discussion 9
Quiz 9 

Unit 10

2-10 April

Please let me know if you want to withdraw from this course by noon on 3 April 2018.

Read Selections from Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, and Margaret Atwood

Read Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Discussion 10
Quiz 10 

Unit 11

11-18 April


Read selections from Lee's Red as Blood  and her other  works in Xanedu packet

Read Roberts's Birthright

Discussion 11
Quiz 11


Unit 12

19 April-7 May

Read Mott Davidson's Catering to Nobody

Discussion 12
Quiz 12

You are required to complete only one of these last six units, but you may do the others for extra credit.

due by 28 April 2018
Final Exam by 8 May 2018

Unit 13

19 April-7 May


Read Selections from Zora Neale Hurston and Gwendolyn Brooks

Read Naylor's Linden Hills 

Discussion 13
Quiz 13

You are required to complete only one of these last six units, but you may do the others for extra credit.

due by 28 April 2018
Final Exam by 8 May 2018

Unit 14

19 April-7 May


Read Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Discussion 14
Quiz 14

You are required to complete only one of these last six units, but you may do the others for extra credit. 

Paper due by 28 April 2018
Final Exam by 8 May 2018

Unit 15

19 April-7 May

Read Brown's The Da Vinci Code

Discussion 15
Quiz 15

You are required to complete only one of these last six units, but you may do the others for extra credit. 

Paper due by 28 April 2018
Final Exam by 8 May 2018

Unit 16

19 April-7 May


Read Wilson's Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows

Discussion 16
Quiz 16

You are required to complete only one of these last six units, but you may do the others for extra credit. 

Paper due by 28 April 2018
Final Exam by 8 May 2018

Unit 17

19 April-7 May

Read Martin's A Game of Thrones

Discussion 17
Quiz 17

You are required to complete only one of these last six units, but you may do the others for extra credit. 

Paper due by 28 April 2018
Final Exam by 7 May 2018

The Instructor's Homepage | IVCC Homepage 

Contact Kimberly M. Radek-Hall, the instructor of Women in Literature, at Kimberly_RadekHall@ivcc.edu

This page was last updated on 28 February 2018 . Copyright Kimberly M. Radek-Hall, 2001.