Module Identifier EN32020  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Professor Diane Watt  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours 10 x 2 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 2 X 2500-WORD ESSAYS  100%

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)

Reading Lists

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


This module is at CQFW Level 6