Module Identifier ENM1620  
Module Title WOMEN, FANTASY AND COMMUNITY 1683-1796  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Louise Marshall  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Louise Marshall  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   5 x 2 hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 5000 WORD ESSAY  100%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMIT THE FAILED ELEMENT  100%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
articulate their knowledge of complex philosophical and populist debates relating to women's place and role in society during the period

demonstrate an alertness to the limitations of normative/conventional constructions of women's social role in terms of domesticity and engage with philosphical debates concerning issues of community and collectivity

formulate their own responses to a range of complex literary texts which engage with issues of female community in diverse ways an didentify and analyse connections between these disparate texts

construct nuanced arguments informed by an understanding of contemporary responses to women's collectives, particularly in relation to issues of, authorship, religion, fantasy, sexuality and radicalism


This is a new option developed to fill a gap in the portfolio of modules currently available for the literary studies MA. Focusing on the period 1683-1796 the module will explore a range of texts which represent groups or communities of women. Students will be asked to consider women as the writers, readers and subjects of drama, poetry and prose fiction and the extent to which female communities are celebrated and/or vilified in these texts. During the course of the module students will engage with recent scholarship and theoretical debate regarding communitarianism and the literary representation of community during the period.

Brief description

Literary scholars and historians have defined women's normative roles during the Restoration and Eighteenth Century in terms of their relationships with men. However, a survey of texts from this period suggests a fascination with groups or categories of women who are devolved of direct patriarchal control. This module will consider a selection of texts written by both men and women that represent a range of female communities; nuns, prostitutes, coquettes, readers and writers. Such communities were open to a dualistic interpretation as simultaneously threatening to social stability and a staple of erotic fantasy. Both of these interpretations are driven by ides of otherness, images of unnaturalness and perceived transgressions of moral, social and religious codes of conduct. These women's communities stood not only in opposition to women's accepted domestic roles but were also directly opposed to parallel masculine institutions such as parliament and the Royal Society and students will be encouraged to consider the vilification of women's collectives alongside these authorised men's cabals. The image of the female community has been utilised as powerful rhetoric by feminist critics who have struggled to ascribe to these communities a progressive radical agenda. Women's writing in particular has been a focus for scholars who have identified in poetry, drama and prose fiction of the period recurrent images of collective support between women writers and by extension the women readers of such texts. Although this notion is compelling the module will questions such interpretations by requiring student to engage with a range of texts which complicate this overly simplified model. Has the search for historical echoes of modern feminist ideology in early modern women's writing inadvertently re-inscribed women's texts in a domestic and feminised sphere? Are texts from this period as much about women's disconnection as they are about women's friendship and unity? Further to such questioning of this feminist agenda the module will examine the literary representation of female communities in the light of current theories of communitarianism and recent scholarly work on nationalism and identity during the period. Many of the texts considered create in microcosm an image of national unity which scholars have identified as central to the rhetoric of post-1707 politics. Is the political fantasy of a unified national identity evident in these female communities or do these texts pose a challenge to notions of national harmony?



Mary Astell, "A Serious Proposal to the Ladies" (1694)
Extracts from; Eliza Haywood, "The Female Tatler" (1709-1710)
Selections from; Roger Lonsdale (ed), "Eighteenth Century Women Poets"
Extracts from; Mary Wollstonecraft, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (1792)

Jane Collier, "An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting" (1753)
Extracts from; Thompson & Roberts (eds), "Women reading Shakespeare, 1600-1900: An Anthology"


John Cleland, "Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" (1749)

Aphra Behn, "The Fair Jilt" (1688) "The History of the Nun" (1689)
Denis Diderot, "The Nun" (1760)

Susanna Centlivre, "The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret" (1714)
Mary Hays, "Memoirs of Emma Courtney" (1796)

Module Skills

Problem solving Identifying problems and suggesting reasoned solutions in seminars. Formulating and developing an exteneded argument in the assessment task.  
Research skills Independent and directed research conducted as part of seminar preparation. Independent research to complete the summative assessment task. Relating literary texts to historical and interpretive contexts.  
Communication Written communication in an academic context. Oral communication skills in formal presentations and group work in seminars.  
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent reading and research skills. Time management and organisational skills.  
Team work Group work in seminars. Preparing and presenting group presentations.  
Information Technology Use of electronic resources. Use of e-learning technologies. Production of written work.  
Personal Development and Career planning Critical self-reflection and the development of transferable communicationa nd research skills.  
Subject Specific Skills Advanced research skills in a specific area of specialist literary study. Detailed critical/theoretical analysis of literary texts and evaluation of broad theoretical concepts.  

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Behn, Aphra (1994.) Oroonoko and other writings /Aphra Behn ; edited with an introduction by Paul Salzman. Oxford University Press 0192828924PBK
Centlivre, Susanna (March 2004) The Wonder:A Woman Keeps a Secret Broadview Press 1551114542TRADEPAPER
Cleland, John (Jan. 1999) Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure Oxford University Press 0192835653TRADEPAPER
Collier, Jane (Aug. 2003) An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting:With Proper Rules for the Exercise of That Pleasant Art Broadview Press 1551110962TRADEPAPER
Diderot, Denis (July 2005) The Nun Oxford University Press, Incorporated 0192804308TRADEPAPER
Hays, Mary (Feb. 1996) Memoirs of Emma Courtney Oxford University Press 019282306XTRADEPAPER
** Supplementary Text
Defoe, Daniel (1996.) Roxana, the fortunate mistress, or, A history of the life and vast variety of fortunes of Mademoiselle de Beleau : afterwards called the Countess de Wintselsheim in Germany : being the person known by the name of the Lady Roxana in the time of Charles II /Daniel Defoe ; edited with an introduction a Oxford University Press 0192824597PBK
Fenwick, Eliza (1998) Secresy, or, The ruin on the rock /Eliza Fenwick ; introduced by Janet Todd. Broadview 1551112167PBK
Fielding, Sarah (2005) The Governess or the Little Female Academy Broadview 1551114125PBK
Haywood, Eliza (April 2004) Anti-Pamela and Shamela Broadview Press 155111383XTRADEPAPER
Mudge, Bradford K. (April 2004) When Flesh Becomes Word:An Anthology of Early Eighteenth-Century Libertine Literature Oxford University Press, Incorporated 0195161874TRADECLOTH
** Recommended Consultation
(1994.) Political gender :texts and contexts /edited by Sally Ledger, Josephine McDonagh and Jane Spencer; preface by Maud Ellmann. Harvester Wheatsheaf 074501562X
(1990 (various p) Women in the eighteenth century :constructions of femininity /edited by Vivien Jones. Routledge 0415034892
Ballaster, Ros (1991) Women's Worlds:Ideology, Femininity, and the Woman's Magazine Macmillan Publishers Limited 0333492358CLOTHTEXT
Clery, E. J. (2004.) The feminization debate in eighteenth-century England :literature, commerce and luxury /by E.J. Clery. Palgrave Macmillan 033377731X
Colley, Linda (1992 (1994 prin) Britons :forging the nation, 1707-1837 /Linda Colley. Pimlico 071266050XPBK
Etizioni, Amitai (2004) The Common Good Polity 0745632674
Honohan, Iseult (Oct. 2002) Civic Republicanism Routledge 0415212103PAPEROVERBOARDS
Morris, Brian (Dec. 2003) Kropotkin:The Politics of Community Prometheus Books, Publishers 1591021588TRADECLOTH
Mudge, Bradford K. (July 2000) The Whore's Story:Women, Pornography, and the British Novel, 1684-1830 Oxford University Press, Incorporated 0195135059CLOTHTEXTONDEMAND
Rees, Christine. (1996.) Utopian imagination and eighteenth-century fiction /Christine Rees. Longman 0582067367PPR
Shevelow, Kathryn (1989.) Women and print culture :the construction of femininity in the early periodical /Kathryn Shevelow. Routledge 0415012228
Todd, Janet M. (1980.) Women's friendship in literature /[by] Janet Todd. Columbia University Press 023104562X


This module is at CQFW Level 7