Spring 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

358:434 Seminar: Renaissance Women Writers

01  MW5 3:501-5:10 PM  CAC  18541   COIRO    SC-205

This course focuses on writers who were marginalized, even forgotten, for centuries but who are now central to our understanding of the English Renaissance. And what amazing things they wrote. We’ll read, for example: a play where a woman demands a divorce long before divorce was legal; a poem claiming ownership of London by a woman who owned nothing; a mind-blowing science fiction prose romance about an alternative world that connects with ours through a passage at the North Pole; a play about a female army that trains hard and wins big; the speeches and poems of Queen Elizabeth I herself; and a disturbing prose romance about slavery told by a white woman with complicated allegiances.

Our seminar will also explore why these major writers were erased from literary history for so long. As an undergraduate years ago, I was embarrassed and ashamed that there were no women writers before the 19th century. I could not understand why this could be true. In fact, it wasn’t true. We will address crucial questions (not restricted to Renaissance women writers) about what gets taught in college (and high school) classes and who the gatekeepers are.

You will do a range of writing in this class: Canvas Discussion threads, treasure hunts in Rutgers Libraries’ databases, director’s notes on possible productions of plays. You will also be writing two essays (one 5-pages, the other 10) that include other critics. Our focus will be on close reading of our primary texts and on close attention to your own writing.

At the heart of our seminar will be our seminar community. We will talk together in class about our wide range of texts, and we will read, comment on, and support our own writing