Ambivalence and Rebellion in the Domestic Sphere
Ambivalence and Rebellion in the Domestic Sphere Our theme will explore early 20th century representations of the home in literature and, more specifically, women as wives and mothers before the Second World War. In the first half of the course we will analyze "The Yellow Wallpaper" in regard to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's depiction of gender roles and how women responded to and wrote their way out of domestic confinement. Then we will read Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening in order to examine the commodity culture of a time in which "ladies" were forced to embrace traditional values, resulting in a struggle with their own sexuality and sense of worth. In the second half we will examine increasingly modern representations of the evolving role of women by reading select Katherine Mansfield and Hemingway short stories that expose patriarchal culture in an attempt to bring clashing gender priorities to the fore. We will conclude with a cinematic exploration of the negative consequences of extreme self-identification with the domestic function as evidenced in the Hollywood film by director Dorothy Arzner entitled Craig's Wife.