Jeanne Follansbee Quinn
Office Hours: Tu 2:00-3:00 p.m And Th 10 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.And by appointment
Office Phone: 256-0482
Culture and Reproduction: American Women’s Writing from the Declaration of Sentiments to the Second Wave
The title of the course—Culture and Reproduction—explicitly plays
on the many meanings of “reproduction.” Women reproduce biologically,
but they also figure centrally in the cultural reproduction of American values
and as symbols of those values. Because women’s roles as biological,
cultural, and economic producers overlap and intertwine in complex and compelling
ways, we will read a range of materials—from fiction to social and political
theory, cultural criticism, and memoir—to examine the strategies that
women have used to represent their experiences and to shape the conditions
of their lives in both the public arena and the private spaces of the home.
The course begins with the 1848 Seneca Falls Declaration, but it takes as a central premise the mantra of Second Wave feminists who proclaimed that the personal is political. In short, we will begin with the assumption that the shape of women’s private lives is intimately connected to the scope of their public lives. Hence our exploration of reproduction will consider the ways that ideas about motherhood affect women’s work outside the home and, conversely, about how economic necessity shapes self-conception and opportunities for social and personal development.
American women’s writing ranges from the most personal expressions of private experience to public interventions in the issues of the day. Consequently, our readings and discussion will challenge the notion that all American women share the same experiences and that women’s writing contains some essential characteristics that distinguish it from men’s writing. Rather, by ranging from the narrative of African-American slave Harriet Jacobs to fiction by Polish immigrant and social activist Anzia Yezierska to Second Wave feminist theory by Betty Friedan and Kate Millet, we will explore a wide array of texts that demonstrate the variety of women’s writing and the vast range of historical experiences that have spurred American women to write.
Student Learning Outcomes
• To conceptualize the complex interaction between writing and social action by understanding how women’s historical situations have shaped their writing and, conversely, how their writing has affected social and political structures.
• To make connections between writers from different time periods and experiences, noting formal and thematic convergences and divergences.
• To learn to read a range of kinds of writing—literary, theoretical, and personal--carefully and critically.
• To write about course texts with clarity and precision.
My assessment of your work in the course will be based on your performance on a series of writing assignments, two exams, and your participation in class discussions.
• Expectations for Discussion
Make sure to leave enough time not only to read the assignments for each class, but also to think critically about each text, about how it speaks to the texts we’ve read previously, what new ideas it raises, its formal characteristics, or whatever interests you or confounds you about what you read. I expect you to come to class with ideas about what you’ve read. However, coming with ideas doesn’t mean that you have to come with all the answers. Questions and confusion will often spark the best conversations as we work through some of the difficulties of a text together.
• Expectations for Writing
I will give you specific instructions for each writing assignment, but in each assignment I will look for the following:
• A compelling argument
• Supporting evidence gleaned from the close analysis of texts
• Clear, precise, and elegant prose.
• Expectations for Exams
Each exam will cover half of the course material. The exams will give you an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of the material by identifying and analyzing passages from the course texts.
• Grade Calculation
Response Paper (2-3 pages) 5%
Essay One (5 pages) 15%
Essay Two (10 pages) 30%
Exam I 20%
Exam II 20%
Class Participation 10%
I expect you to attend class and participate in our discussions. If you miss more than 2 classes, I will lower your grade.
Academic Honor Code
Participation in an academic community comes with responsibilities. Your responsibility is to produce your own work and to acknowledge the sources that inform that work. You have an obligation to adhere to the University Academic Honor Policy. Please see the UNCG Graduate Bulletin and the Policies for Students handbook.
The texts for the course include books available at the UNCG Bookstore (titles are listed below) and materials on e-reserve at Jackson Library. Please print copies of e-reserve materials and bring them to class. In addition, I have placed one copy of each of the books for the course (except Winnemucca) on reserve at Jackson.
Harriett Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Nella Larsen, Quicksand
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
Monica Sone, Nisei Daughter
Edith Wharton, Summer
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Life Among the Piutes
Anzia Yezierska, The Bread Givers
Materials on E-Reserve (listed on the schedule below as E-R)
Schedule of Readings and Assignments
Aug. 17: Introduction
Birthing a Nation: Women and the Politics of Democracy
19: Declaration of Sentiments (available at the following web address)
24: Jacobs, Preface, Editor’s Introduction, and Ch. I-XIII
26: NO CLASS
31: Jacobs, Ch. XIV-XXVIII
Sept. 2: Jacobs, Ch. XXIX-Appendix
7: Winnemucca, Preface, Foreward, and Ch. I-V
9: Winnemucca, Ch. VI-VII
14: Winnemucca, Ch. VIII-Appendix
15: Response Paper Due (in my mailbox by 5:00 p.m.)
Sexuality and Emancipation: Race, Class, and the Politics of Desire
Sept. 16: Emma Goldman, “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation” (E-R)
Margaret Sanger, selections from Motherhood in Bondage (E-R)
Sept. 21: Wharton, Ch. I-VII
23: Wharton, Ch. VIII-XIV
28: Wharton, Ch. XV-End
30: Larsen, Ch. I-VIII
Oct. 5: Larsen, Ch. XI-XVI
7: Larsen, Ch. XVII-End
Oct. 12: NO CLASS (Holiday)
13: ESSAY ONE DUE (in my mailbox by 5 p.m.)
14: EXAM I
Reproducing Women: Motherhood and the Cultural Production of Women
Oct. 19: Yezierska, pp. 1-110
21: Yezierska, pp. 111-201
26: Yezierska, pp. 202-297
28: Sone, Ch. I-V
Nov. 2: Sone, Ch. VI-End
4: Plath, Ch. 1-7
9: Plath, Ch. 8-13
11: Plath, Ch. 14-End
16: Robinson, pp. 1-75
18: Robinson, pp. 76-175
23: NO CLASS
30: Robinson, pp. 176-219
Dec. 1: ESSAY CONFERENCES
2: EXAM II
3: ESSAY CONFERENCES
6: ESSAY TWO DUE (in my mailbox by 10:00 a.m.)