English Women Writers to 1800

by Jessica C. Murphy

My graduate class next semester will be English Women Writers to 1800. Early modern women writers engaged in a dangerous craft—dangerous because the very act of writing for an audience (however small) could endanger one’s reputation. Yet, as the work of twentieth century feminist critics has shown, there were a good number of women writing in English before 1800 (published and unpublished alike). In this class we will read a sampling of these women writers with special attention to how they responded to, shaped, and thought about the political, historical, and social moment in which they lived. We will be interested not only in examining these writers’ milieus, but also in engaging with the interdisciplinary study of early English women writers since the late twentieth century.

The texts:

The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English Volume 1. 3rd Edition. Edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-393-93013-9
Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism: A Norton Reader Edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-393-92790-0
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, Edited by Catherine Gallagher, Bedford Cultural Edition, 2000. ISBN: 978-0-312-10813-7

I was thinking about doing individual editions of everything I wanted to look at, but then thought it might be more fun to work from an anthology. We’ll see . . .