Undergraduate Course: Writing Contemporary Femininities: Experiments in Waywardness (ENLI10377)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course examines discourses of female identity in contemporary culture, focusing on representations which challenge existing modes and ideals of femininity in a diverse range of texts, enabling students to study experimental and popular writing in the context of current critical approaches, particularly feminism and postfeminism.
The current climate is replete with contradictory ideas, images and interpellations of women and femininity, with vaunted social freedoms existing amidst prominent reporting of sexism and misogyny across cultural contexts and communities. Making sense of this situation after 50 years of feminism is a fraught task, with competing analyses accounting for the persistence of traditional paradigms of gender identities and relations alongside innovative social, personal and sexual liberations which characterise contemporary life. This course addresses how the pressing confusions informing feminine social being are critically engaged and challenged by literary and filmic representations from the recent period. Therefore, it explores what can be characterised as a women's genre of disaffection in contemporary fictions.
'Writing Contemporary Femininities' investigates representations which challenge existing modes and ideals of femininity in a diverse range of contemporary texts. The aim is to question and further understanding of current cultural formations and discourses of the feminine in these texts in order to explore how they reproduce or resist traditional ideals, constrict or promote liberation, limit or expand ideas of the human. In this the course is informed by the notion of waywardness ' behaviour that is difficult to control or predict, prone to the seemingly perverse ' in its questioning of the potential of the feminine for troubling power and imagining life otherwise. We will focus on a deliberately wide variety of texts, from the popular (the chick-lit of Bridget Jones's Diary) to the radically experimental avant garde (Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus), some of whom deploy a purposefully provocative, obscuring and violent style.
In considering current representations of women the course foregrounds questions of form, genre, the significance of representational strategies and style, the relation between fiction and reality, and cultural value. However, it also necessarily engages with critical discourses, particularly postfeminism and its contradictory and ambivalent emanations in cultural critique. Therefore, the primary texts will be read alongside critical theory which addresses the idea of the feminine ' psychoanalysis, difference feminism, the work of Judith Butler ' and which engages the social, cultural and political context, particularly the work of cultural theorists such as Angela McRobbie and Rosalind Gill, and critiques of postfeminism as a neoliberal discourse. In this the course aims to provide a stimulating snapshot of current gender debates and confusions, and of the character of their interrogation in representations over the recent period.
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||1 Course essay (2,500 words) 30%;
class participation assessment 10%;
take-home Exam-Essay (3,000 words) 60%
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- 1. By the end of the course a student will be able to demonstrate knowledge of and critical engagement with a range of contemporary fictions concerned with the representation of women and femininity
- 2. By the end of the course a student will be able to demonstrate the relation of these fictions to the wider cultural field of writing and representation
- 3. By the end of the course a student will be able to demonstrate knowledge of contemporary debates and concepts in feminism and related critical discourses regarding gender identities and relations and representation
- 4. By the end of the course a student will be able to demonstrate the ability to deploy a variety of methodological approaches to the study of gender representation and work with interdisciplinary material.
- 5. By the end of the course a student will be able to demonstrate the ability to reflect constructively on the development of their own learning and research practice
|Compulsory Primary Texts:|
Helen Fielding. Bridget Jones's Diary. London: Picador, 1997
Kathy Acker. Empire of the Senseless. Grove/Atlantic, 1994.
Chris Kraus. I Love Dick. Los Angeles: Semiotexte, 2006.
Alan Warner. The Sopranos. London: Vintage, 1999
Alan Warner. The Stars in the Bright Sky. London: Vintage, 2011
Bharati Muhkerjee. Leave it to me. London: Vintage, 1998.
Ali Smith. The Accidental. London: Penguin, 2006
Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods. London: Penguin, 2008
Shell (director: Scott Graham) 2012
Under the Skin (director: Jonathan Glazer) 2013
Jenni Fagan. The Panopticon. Windmill Books, 2013
Eimear McBride. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. London: Faber, 2014
Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. 2nd ed. Columbia UP, 2011.
Braidotti, Rosi. 'Sexual Difference Theory.' A Companion to Feminist Philosophy. Eds. Jaggar, Alison M. and Iris Marion Young. Malden, Mass.; Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. 298-306. Print.
Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York/London: Routledge, 2004.
Cixous, Hélène. 'The Laugh of the Medusa'. Signs. 1.4. 1976. 875-93.
Colebrook, Claire. Gender. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Friedman, Ellen G. 'Sexing the Text: Women's Avant Garde Writing in the Twentieth Century.' In Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons and Brian McHale (eds). Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature. Abingdon: Routledge, 2012: 154-67
Genz, Stephanie and Benjamin A Brabon. Postfeminism: Cultural Texts and Theories. Edinburgh UP, 2009.
Gill, Rosalind. Gender and the Media. Cambridge: Polity, 2007.
Gill, Rosalind and Christina Scharff (eds). New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art of Failure. Duke UP, 2011.
Harzewski, Stephanie. Chick Lit and Postfeminism. London/Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.
Irigaray, Luce. The Irigaray Reader. Ed. by Margaret Whitford. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.
Irigaray, Luce. Key Writings. London: Continuum, 2004.
Makinen, Merja. Feminist Popular Fiction. New York: Palgrave, 2001.
McRobbie, Angela. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: Sage, 2009.
Munford, Rebecca and Melanie Waters. Feminism and Popular Culture: Investigating the Postfeminist Mystique. London: IB Taurus, 2014.
Negra, Diane. What a Girl Wants? Fantasizing the Reclamation of the Self in Postfeminism. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009.
Phipps, Alison. The Politics of the Body. Cambridge: Polity, 2014.
Plain, Gill and Susan Sellers (eds). A History of Feminist Literary Criticism. CUP, 2007.
Whelehan, Imelda. Overloaded: Popular Culture and the Future of Feminism. London: Women's Press, 2000.
Whelehan, Imelda. The Feminist Bestseller: From Sex and the City to Sex and the Single Girl. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005.
Whitford, Margaret. Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine. London: Routledge, 1991.
|Course organiser||Dr Carole Jones
Tel: (0131 6)50 3068
|Course secretary||Ms June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620