Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Contemporary Women's Fiction
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 2500-WORD ESSAYS  50%
Semester Assessment 30 minute group summative oral presentation  50%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMISSION OF FAILED ELEMENTS  Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.  In the event of failure in the essay assignment, an essay on a new topic to be submitted. 
Supplementary Assessment In the event of failure in the oral presentation elements, a 15 minute written script on a new topic, written as if for delivery, with accompanying visual aids to be submitted.  Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. describe and discuss some of the diversity of contemporary women's fiction;

2. demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the Women's Movement and/or Feminism and/or Gender Politics on contemporary women's fiction;

3. analyse and evaluate contemporary women's fiction in terms of its political, historical and social context and content;

4. apply their critical, theoretical and analytical skills to contemporary women's fiction.


This module seeks to introduce students to some of the range and diversity of British and North American women's writing of the last thirty years in the contexts of the Women's Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and feminist debates of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Brief description

This module will focus mainly on novels authored by women, although short stories may also be discussed. It will consider genre and genre fiction and explore a range of political issues addressed by women writers.


The module will be organized chronologically as follows:

_Weeks 1-3: The Women'r Movement and Women's Writing from the 1970s
Issues addressed include women's writing and women readers, women's rights, the domestic sphere, women in the workplace, sexual liberation, class, ethnicity, ecology.

_Weeks 4-6: Feminist Concerns in Women's Writing of the 1980s
Issues addressed include genre fiction and feminist publishing, gender and sexual politics, postmodernism, psychoanalysis, lesbian writing, matrilineages, motherhood, race, identity.

_Weeks 7-10: Gender Politics and Fiction in the 1990s and into the 21st century
Issues addressed include postmodernism, queer theory and queer writing, the body, the gothic, the politics of location, female friendships.

Depending on availability and recent developments in the field, ten texts may be taken from the following list:

Erica Jong, Fear of Flying (1973)
Angela Carter, Fireworks (1974), The Passion of the New Eve
Marilyn French, The Women's Room (1977)
Marge Piercy, Women on the Edge of Time (1978)
Zoe Fairbairns, Benefits
Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985)
AS Byatt, Possession
Alison Lurie, The Truth About Lorin Jones (1988)
Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club (1989)
Rose Tremain, Sacred Country (1992)
Margaret Atwood The Robber Bride (1993)
Janice Galloway, Foreign Parts (1994)
Leonaro Britto, Dat's Love (1995)
Stevie Davies, Four Dreamers and Emily (1996)
Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
Patricia Duncker, Hallucinating Foucault (1996)
Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet (1998) or Fingersmith (2002)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Yes, spoken (in seminars) and written (WRITTEN ONLY ASSESSED).
Improving own Learning and Performance Yes, formulating and developing answers to essay questions
Information Technology Yes, using electronic resources, word-processesing etc
Problem solving Formulating and developing answers to essay questions
Research skills Yes, developed and assessed in the assessed essays
Subject Specific Skills Application of theory to text

Reading List

Recommended Background
Helen Carr (ed.) (1989) From My Guy to Sci-Fi Pandora Primo search Linda Anderson (ed.) (1990) Plotting Change Arnold Primo search Mary Eagleton (1996) Working with Feminist Criticism Blackwell Primo search Moira Monteith (ed.) (1986) Women's Writing: A Challenge to Theory Harvester-Wheatsheaf Primo search Nikki Gerrard (1989) Into the Mainstream Pandora Primo search Patricia Duncker (1992) Sisters and Strangers Blackwell Primo search Paulina Palmer (1989) Contemporary Feminist Fiction Harvester-Wheatsheaf Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6