Module Identifier EN34120  
Module Title WOMEN, WRITING, HISTORY: 1660-1740  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Sarah H Prescott  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours (10 x 2 hrs)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 2 essays (2,500 words each)100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:
- work with feminist theory and undertake feminist literary history;
- demonstrate a broad knowledge of women''s writing of the period 1660-1740;
- discuss the subject coherently;
- write about the subject in a well-structured and well-argued manner.

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.


- 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;
- to provide a detailed knowledge of texts which are evidence of alternatives or additions to the accepted canon of eighteenth-century literature;
- 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). All fiction included in Popular Fiction By Women, 1660-1730: An Anthology edited by Paula Backscheider and John Richetti (Oxford 1996)

Selective Bibliography
Carol Barash, English Women's Poetry, 1649-1714: Politics, Community and Linguistic Authority (Oxford 1996)
Ros Ballaster, Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction, 1684-1740 (Oxford 1992)
Clare Brant and Diane Purkiss (eds.), Women, Texts and Histories, 1575-1760 (Routledge 1992)
Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman (eds.), Women, Writing, History: 1640-1740 (Batsford 1992)
Jacqueline Pearson, The Prostituted Muse: Images of Women and Women Dramatists, 1642-1737 (Harvester 1988)
Jane Spencer, The Rise of the Woman Novelist from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen (Blackwell 1986)
Janet Todd, Feminist Literary History (Polity, 1988) and The Sign of Angellica: Women, Writing, Fiction: 1660-1800 (Virago 1989)


This module is at CQFW Level 6