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C LIT 240 T: Writing In Comparative Literature

The Occupations of Women

Meeting Time: 
TThF 9:30am - 11:20am
Location: 
MEB 245
SLN: 
11822
Instructor:
Brad photo
Brad Gerhardt

Syllabus Description:

The Occupations of Women

The word “occupation” has a variety of meanings, ranging from the mundane—occupying yourself with a hobby—to the geopolitical—the occupation of a foreign country. For women, the many nuances of the word have been historically fraught, as evidenced by the lack of occupations left to women throughout the 19th century, the relegation of many “women’s arts” such as embroidery to mere “occupations” in contrast to more masculine forms of “art,” or even contemporary gender debates about who can or cannot “occupy” the position of woman. To probe the semantic range of this term, we will examine four 20th-century novels written by women concerned with problems of “occupation”: Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight, whose narrator attempts to “occupy” a hotel room, Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Française, which tells of women in Nazi-occupied France, Christa Wolf’s What Remains, a neurotic account of keeping “occupied” while under state surveillance, and Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping, which interrogates how women are called upon to occupy positions and possessions in families. We will also examine critical theory texts from thinkers such as Virginia Woolf and Judith Butler, as well as short stories and poetry. As a writing composition class, our primary task will be developing complex claims about these texts and developing strategies for writing in different situations and for different audiences.

Additional Details:

            The word “occupation” has a variety of meanings, ranging from the mundane—occupying yourself with a hobby—to the geopolitical—the occupation of a foreign country. For women, the many nuances of the word have been historically fraught, as evidenced by the lack of occupations left to women throughout the 19th century, the relegation of many “women’s arts” such as embroidery to mere “occupations” in contrast to more masculine forms of “art,” or even contemporary gender debates about who can or cannot “occupy” the position of woman. To probe the semantic range of this term, we will examine four 20th-century novels written by women concerned with problems of “occupation”: Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight, whose narrator attempts to “occupy” a hotel room, Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Française, which tells of women in Nazi-occupied France, Christa Wolf’s What Remains, a neurotic account of keeping “occupied” while under state surveillance, and Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping, which interrogates how women are called upon to occupy positions and possessions in families. We will also examine critical theory texts from thinkers such as Virginia Woolf and Judith Butler, as well as short stories and poetry. As a writing composition class, our primary task will be developing complex claims about these texts and developing strategies for writing in different situations and for different audiences. 

Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
September 13, 2016 - 9:12pm
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