Rethinking Gender: Women's Writing since Wollstonecraft - CPLT6290

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module investigates representations of gender and identity in a selection of texts by women writers from different temporal, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. In particular, it seeks to explore the way in which representations of "self" and "other", love and desire, madness and motherhood reflect the respective socio-cultural contexts and the situation of women therein. Corporeal aesthetics, patterns of behaviour labelled as feminine or masculine, representations of transgressive conduct, and relations of power will be investigated, drawing on classic feminist theory and historiography (Wollstonecraft, Beauvoir, Irigaray, Butler, Moi, Badinter), psychoanalytical thought (Freud), narratology (Genette), genre-theory (Bakhtin) subject-theory (Sartre, Levinas, Derrida) and studies in visual culture (Barthes, Sontag, Mulvey).
Students will be asked to engage with the significance of images and representations of women and men proliferated through literature. These representations provide or question role models and perpetuate or problematise stereotypical versions of female/male goals and aspirations. Furthermore, emphasis will be placed on close readings of the selected literary works, on cultural differences and variations, and on how conceptions of sex and gender are changing in the course of time.


Contact hours

Total Study Hours: 40

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (2,000 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (3,000 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

Any edition:

de Beauvoir, S. The Second Sex
Brontë, C. Jane Eyre
Brontë, E. Wuthering Heights
Djebar, A. Fantasia
Duras, M. The Lover
Erneaux, A. A Frozen Woman
Jelinek, E. The Piano Player
Wollstonecraft, M. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate an acute awareness of diverse aesthetic strategies for representing love, desire and the body in a number of different texts written by women from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds;
Demonstrate critical understanding the importance of the specific cultural, linguistic and historic contexts from which the texts spring and their impact upon the particular representational choices;
Show an understanding of the complexities that inform the treatment of issues of love, desire, gender, sexual morality, sexuality and representations of the body in the respective texts;
Demonstrate detailed understanding of the importance of prose fiction as a mirror of ideologies in general;
Demonstrate critical understanding of the significance of images and representations of women proliferated through literature in particular;
Show thorough understanding of key concepts of feminist theory.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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