Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials Weekly 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 3000 word essays  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resumbit failed and/or make good any missing elements 

Learning Outcomes

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

1. work with feminist theory and undertake feminist literary history;

2. demonstrate a broad knowledge of women's writing of the period 1660-1740;

3. discuss the subject coherently;

4. write about the subject in a well-structured and well-argued manner.


This module aims:

1. to develop an ability to think critically about the way in which literature has traditionally been categorised and to foreground the role of gender in the formation of literary histories;

2. to provide a detailed knowledge of texts which are evidence of alternatives or additions to the accepted canon of eighteenth-century literature;

3. to relate feminist theoretical method directly to literary texts and also to question the assumptions displayed in the theoretical propositions presented.


Seminar Programme

1. Feminist literary history: an introduction
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)

2. Representing the woman writer
A selection of poetry by male and female writers which present images of the woman writer and female authorship.

3. Staging Women
Aphra Behn, The Feigned Courtesans (1679); The Lucky Chance (1686)

4. Constructing a Self I
Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World (1666)

5. Constructing a Self II
Delariviere Manley, The Adventures of Rivella (1714)

6. Politics, Sex and Scandal I
Aphra Behn, The History of the Nun (1689) and Delariviere Manley, The Secret History of Queen Zarah (1705)

7. Politics, Sex and Scandal II
Eliza Haywood, The Adventures of Eovaai (1736)

8-10. Women and Fiction
Eliza Haywood, The British Recluse (1722) and Fantomina; or, Love in a Maze (1725); Jane Barker, Love Intrigues (1713); Penelope Aubin, The Strange Adventures of the Count de Vinevil (1721); Mary Davys, The Reform'd Coquet (1724); Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Friendship in Death (1728).

Brief description

Feminist literary history presents a major challenge to traditional accounts of Restoration and early eighteenth-century literature, but what other questions are raised by a study of women's writing in this period? Is it possible (or desirable) to construct a female literary tradition that is separate from male writing? How do conceptions of femininity and female literary authority change through history? How do women writers construct their authorial identities and how does this self-fashioning shape the work they produce? What relation do women writers have to the genres they employ? To investigate these questions we will study a range of writing from poetry, drama, romance and the novel to political satire, autobiography and letter writing. In addition, the module will examine some of the key theoretical propositions of feminist theory and consider whether current models of feminist criticism and literary history help to explain the constructions of female authorship and women's writing under scrutiny.

The module will be taught in two-hour weekly seminars, which will be introduced by seminar papers. The final choice of texts will be subject to their availability.


This module is at CQFW Level 6