Frankenstein's Daughters:
Women and Fantasy Literature
E 350 (550) Dr. Lynn Alexander
Women and Literature  Office:  131C, x7281
Spring 2001  E-mail:
TR 11:00-12:15; Humanities 314 Hours:  MWF 9-11; TR 2-3
University of Tennessee at Martin

Catalog description:
A historical survey of women writers, including contemporary writers, which focuses on women writers' concern with and presentation of issues such as race, ethnicity, religion, and class.
Course goals and objectives:
Students completing English 350 should gain the following knowledge and skills (as defined by the Tennessee Teacher Licensure Standards):
  • a knowledge of and an appreciation for the social, philosophical, aesthetic, and historical dimensions of literature.
  • a greater understanding of the regional, colloquial, cultural, and national diversity in literature.
  • a knowledge of a wide range of literature from many periods and various genres and relate that knowledge to class reading and class writing.
  • a better ability to make connections among various literary selections and between literature and the  other arts.
  • a better ability to relate a wide range of print and visual texts, both classical and contemporary, to their lives.
  • a better ability to communicate persuasively orally and in writing.
  • a better ability to incorporate questioning techniques that emphasize critical thinking, such as  inference, evaluation, comparison, contrast, analysis, synthesis, criticism, and appreciation.
  • Course description:
    Although women have always written, until the appearance of the novel in the late eighteenth century, the publication (and thus the preservation) of a woman's writing was rare. But the advent of a new form, the novel, brought new opportunities and women were soon being published in record numbers. Thus, because the novel has become the dominant force in women's literature, it is the genre on which we are going to focus. But even when limited to novels, there is still an overwhelming number of texts and authors to choose from; so a common subgenre--science fiction--has been used as guides to limit the reading selections.

    I chose to focus on science fiction because women writers have often used this subgenre to cloak issues that were considered questionable, improper, or outright taboos by society. Thus, Mary Shelley can use the fantastic creation of  Victor Frankenstein to speak of issues such as pregnancy, postpartum depression, and even parental rejection. Similarly, Virginia Woolf can use fantasy to address cultural issues such as androgyny, same sex desire, and women's rights. One of the questions we will address repeatedly is, what are the issues behind this novel.

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