E290: Literature by Women
Due Date: Monday, Dec 7
All papers are to be 5-7 pages (5 pages IS NOT the same as 4 ½ pages), double-spaced, and use MLA formatting. Do not include a cover page. Staple your paper before you turn it in. All papers should strongly feature close readings of text as evidence for the persuasive force of your claims. Make sure you don’t include any extra spaces after the return. Word does this automatically so check in the formatting menu to make sure it is set to 0.
1. Compare and contrast the ways in which Cixous and Barnes re-think the Western emphasis on mind/body dualism. In what ways does each writer undermine this dualism? What rhetorical and/or literary strategies does each woman use to subvert that dualism?
2. Write a paper in which you consider the ways in which Cixous and Barnes use comedy in their reclamation of female erotics. Do these women “exploit” the female body in the positive rather than negative sense of the verb, to position women who write the body-bawdy as sexual agents rather than victims?
3. In chapter 4 of A Room of One’s Own, Woolf discusses writers that she thinks have been plagued by silencing (Cavendish, Finch, Charlotte Bronte) as well as writers that she claims were not bothered by it (Austen, Emily Bronte). Choose a writer from our syllabus whom you view as resisting silence and one whom you view as embracing it, and use their writing as the basis from which to analyze the effects of silence of literary women.
4. Could Cavendish be seen as a seventeenth-century “Re-vision” of Woolf’s Judith Shakespeare, someone who, despite public denigration and doubts about her own creative genius, survives rather than commits suicide? Read chapters three and four of A Room of One’s Own, where Woolf spins the tale of Judith and comments on Cavendish as “harebrained and fantastical.” You might consider whether or not Woolf is dismissive of Cavendish or if she is someone that she admired but hesitated to applaud as loudly as she did Aphra Behn.
5. Choose a writer for our list whose approach to spirituality most closely dovetails with your own, and analyze how your personal view of the spiritual has affected your understanding of the themes and artistic strategies of that work, and vice versa—how analyzing the literary work has affected your understanding of the sacred. You will still need to use close readings of your text as evidence in support of your claims. I have the full texts of both Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe’s works if you feel you need more to work with to do justice to this assignment.